Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the science of triathlon, or any competitive sport for that matter. The pace, distance, speed or heart-rate are the measures of our success. No matter how placid you may be, the competitive triathlon bug catches us all and the search of improvement is in our DNA. This therefore makes avoiding fixation over our watches, computers and training software, a daily battle. I do not pretend to be guilt free on this count, infact I am very much the opposite, I have lost count of the amount of times I have hit a particularly obvious pothole because I was staring at my wattage… This is an admission of my problem, I have a stats addiction.
On the face of it I think that this may not be so much of an issue, what is the harm in taking an interest in my own improvement? I take this sport seriously, I want to perform well, surely if the science is here to help then the more I embrace it the better?!
However, I fear that this over reliance on the statistics may be taking away from why I really started. A sense of adventure. The outdoors has been a part of my life since as early as I can remember. I have fond memories of dragging my 10 year old self up some of Arthur Wainwrights greatest finds. When I was 15 a friend and I set of into the wilderness to walk the Penine Way with nothing more than a tent and an emergency mobile phone that we never turned on (a different era I fear). This sense of freedom and exploration into unknown territories has always driven me. It is the reason I was attracted to cycling, you can see so much, in such a short time and in a far more personal way than sitting in a car. It is the reason I adore trail running, the criss-crossed paths that subtly adorn the British countryside result in no run ever being the same, if you are prepared to explore.
Triathletes are uniquely lucky, maybe its jealousy that attracts so much flack from the single sport types. We are able to embrace it all. The beautiful mountain scenery, spectacular cycle routes, sunrises over a lake, you name it. The possibilities of the beauty that can be found are endless. However if you are like me, a creature of habit, the temptation to run the same roads and cycle the same routes, hoping to smash your neighbours Strava PB. It is also a reliable way to measure your performance. If you run or ride along the same route you visibly see your improvements and you know what is coming, there are no cheeky surprises to shock your training data.
But is this just laziness?! I feel I do this because it somehow just feels easier, I don’t have to worry about getting lost or planning my route.
It is clear that my sense of adventure and my stat-obsessed habitual lifestyle are almost mutually exclusive and I fear that if I don’t address this issue know I may fall into a trap that may see me fall out of love with this beautiful sport I hold so dear. And so I will make a supremely conscious effort to reintroduce that sense of adventure into my training. As best as I can, regardless of the distance I have to travel I will not run my distance run or ride my long ride over the same route.
I hope that this motivates you to bring back the carefree sense of adventure into your training. Till next time, train hard and go explore!!