The unsexiness of triathlon training

It’s 6:20 in the morning. It’s still dark outside. I’ve already had my usual breakfast – porridge with raisins – and I’m leisurely drinking my tea to get my single caffeine fix of the day. Soon, I’ll be getting dressed to go to the gym where I’ll head first to the pool for an 800 meter swim and then to the gym floor where my personal trainer will pulverize my legs and get my heart pumping at supersonic speeds. Then, and this is the trick, I have to find enough energy to get through a shitload of a workday.

I love a challenge. It’s my love for challenges that drives so much of the choices I’ve made in the past eight years. Participating in a triathlon is challenging. But it comes nowhere near as challenging as the lonely, boring and tiresome months upon months of training that precede it. I don’t love the training. I do love challenging myself to become hard-core. Going out for a two-to-three hour bike ride or a one-to-two hour run in the freezing rain is hard-core. It takes a tremendous amount of mental strength to get up extra early in the morning, already tired from yesterday’s training, and jump into a cold lake or even a warm swimming pool. It takes lots of mistakes and injuries to start figuring out when your body really needs a rest or you’ll just end up hurting yourself AGAIN or if you’re just being a wimp and get your sorry ass out there and just do it!

I have tons of inner conversations. “I don’t want to!” I’ll whine. “I’m too tired!” I’ll moan. “It’s too cold! All I want to do is cuddle up under a warm blanket and watch some crap TV!” I’ll whimper. But then the other person inside me looks ahead to the next race date, knows how much I really really really want to be in that race and do well and how much I enjoy crossing that finish line, and tells everyone else inside me that they might as well shut up because the only way we’ll achieve our goal is to go through the hard times that get you there. So I get up, get dressed and just do it. And as I’m doing it I tell myself that I’m the toughest bitch in the whole wide world. You really have no idea how superhero-like I can feel (sometimes) when I’m out there in the worst of weather running or cycling on my own to get my training session done. Do I recognize that there are a whole load of other people doing exactly the same thing? Yes. And I think those people are totally AWESOME.

It’s time. I must get up and go get today’s swim and gym session over with. My arms hurt. My legs hurt. I’m fending off an injury. I’m still a bit sleepy. And I’m anxious about finishing today’s workload. But I’m going to do it all and be the superhero I am in my head.


  1. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing what’s behind the scene . Have always wanted to take sports seriously and I am learning every day from your journey . Blessings.

  2. I’ve just been interviewed saying exactly the same thing – check it out on my site ‘it’s the unsexy stuff, the stuff that no one sees that matters !!!!’

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