Why it helps to have a mantra: My triathlon challenge

Training for a triathlon has been a long-term project. And anything undertaken long-term (think: parenting; or, marriage), has its ups and downs. Under the circumstances, an everyday reminder, or mantra, can be truly helpful and inspiring.

Here’s mine: worth the effort.

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Training for a triathlon has been a long-term project. And anything undertaken long-term (think: parenting; or, marriage), has its ups and downs. Under the circumstances, an everyday reminder, or mantra, can be truly helpful and inspiring. 

Here’s mine: worth the effort.

During the early months, there were far more downs than ups. Some days, doing a triathlon seemed like a distant and impossible dream, and I couldn’t find the energy to take the project seriously. Other days, I would go for a particularly exhilarating run and be filled with enthusiasm and hope.

Slowly, it dawned on me that that this was how my journey was going to proceed: not in a straight line toward a solid end-goal, but along a bumpier path, with twists and turns that sometimes obscured my direction and purpose.

As my training increased over the winter, the goal became more real. But I still had good days and bad days, and even good weeks and bad weeks. Some mornings, I hopped out of bed, and other mornings, it was a slog to drag myself downstairs.

But even on the slog mornings, no matter how lousy I felt upon waking, I always returned home feeling better.

I should tattoo this reminder on my forearm: Worth the effort. 

A long run, or a hard spin class, or a gentle swim are like medicine for my body and my mind.
Even if I’m operating on low energy, and the run has been a struggle, or the swim has been hard, I always feel better afterward. When I’m moving, I am connected to my body, and present to the present. Never once have I come home and thought: well, that wasn’t worth it.

It’s natural for energy to fluctuate, especially on a long journey. And everyone needs a holiday from time to time. But there are daily, ordinary, immediate, joyful reasons for heading down this bumpy path, and it’s not really about the goal waiting at the end.

You’ll have your own path, and your own reasons. Mine are a bit ephemeral, but essentially, it comes down to this: I’m happier when I’m moving.

What better way to start the day? Even if I’m not feeling it when the alarm goes off.

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