Every year USA Triathlon offers a little challenge during the winter months to help athletes stay motivated. Each month has a focus. December is swim month, January is bike month and February is run month.
My club, Atlanta Triathlon Club, participates in this challenge each year. Having a competitive nature, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge each year as we join together as a team to try to swim, bike or run more miles than other clubs.
This year, the club decided to put more emphasis on training all three sports over the winter after seeing some members struggle with injury or burn out after focusing on a single sport too much. A few years when I swam 25 miles in a month, my chiropractor gave me a stern warning to never do that again with the shoulder issues that I have.
Because December was so busy and I got sick, I wasn’t super into the challenge this year until my friend Tim planted the idea of streaking during bike month. Don’t worry mom, this kind of streaking is done fully (mostly) clothed.
After my bike accident in June, my bike and I had a break-up. Literally, my bike broke and I put it up not to be touched again for months. I hauled it out of storage and took it to my trusted mechanic at all3sports. A few days later it came back repaired and clean.
I believe I was a few glasses of wine in on December 30th when I sent a text message to Tim saying I was in for the January bike streak. If you’ve ever met Tim, he’s the most dedicated, consistent athlete I know so I knew that when I made a commitment to streak with him, there was no backing out.
January 1 found me tired from a New Year’s Eve party and getting the very short ride in before heading to Shinabrunch, an all-day brunch my friends Jeff and Andre Shinabarger host on New Year’s Day. I really wanted to text Tim to say I’d start on the 2nd, but I knew if I did that, I would never start. So 40-minutes later, I had put in the first trainer ride on my bike in almost 6-months and was ready for brunch.
As I write this, I just completed day 11. Some days have been good, and some have not been so good. If you’ve ever gotten back on the saddle day after day after a long absence, you know why. And many rides are short – just 30-minutes and very easy!
A few people have asked, why bother? Does a short, easy ride really do anything for you?
Physically, not really. I get a little muscle memory but when is say some days are really easy — they are like easy, easy.
For me, this challenge is more of a mental challenge.
I was having a great season when I had my bike accident and afterwards, I dreaded the bike. I couldn’t keep up when I went to ride. I was seeing all of the hard work I had put in that year vanish and I was nervous about another accident.
The less I trained, the less I wanted to train.
And that was okay, there are seasons to rest and recover.
But one thing I know about myself is that discipline in one area of my life leads to discipline in other areas of my life.
And the easiest place to get the ball rolling is in my fitness routine.
When I choose to do something, even when I don’t FEEL like it., even when I don’t see the immediate benefit, I get empowered.
I train myself to do the things I don’t want to do which in turn helps me be more successful in my overall goals.
Goal setting is fun. It’s the hard work that it takes in between setting the goal and completing it that requires you to push through all of those times you don’t feel like doing something.
And oddly, when I jump on the trainer and put in a ride, even a very short ride, I feel empowered to finish the tasks that I don’t feel like doing that day related to my other goals.
I have big goals for 2018. Like some scary big ones. I’ve realized that goals need habits cultivated in my life if I want to see them through.
So that’s why I’ve committed to riding my bike every day in January. I don’t have a secret Ironman on the calendar. I’m not trying to rack up miles for a challenge. I’m only partially motivated by getting back into shape. Those would all be good reasons.
But for me, I need to once-again train my mind to push through the moments that I don’t feel like doing something to accomplish a goal. To know that I am able to do the things I say I will do.
As Bethany and I have been talking more about our motto at Grit and Dirt, we’ve talked about how much we like the idea of a small change disrupting your life.
The word disrupt often has a negative connotation but in many cases, we need a disruption to take us out of the routine that is comfortable but unfulfilling or the excuses we make that keep us from our goals.
Choosing to bring something in that disrupts us from the norm can be a powerful catalyst for change.
That’s why we really believe that if you’ve been on the fence about signing up for that first triathlon, or 5k, or Spartan Race…or whatever it may be, that you should do it!
Are you ready to get started but need some support? We’ve started a Grit and Dirt online community via facebook. It’s a place you can share your story and get a whole lot of dirt on training and racing….or just ask all the questions you want to ask before you sign up.