I have been wanting to write an "investment" post for some time, but couldn't quite find my words. I'm not talking about monetary investing...triathletes don't ever have any money anyways since they are constantly buying more race entries or new gear. No, I wanted to write about how much of yourself you invest in triathlon. What do you expect from your results based on your investment in training? Triathlon investing actually has a lot of paralleles to money. Let's explore them.
So, when you invest money, what do you expect in return? More money, right? Money in the form of dividends, or capital gains, your lookin' for the ROI (Return On Investment). If you don't get it, your a little P.O.'d at your investment. When you don't get the return that you expect you have two choices: you either have to roll through it, or you pull your money out and go looking for something that can give you the ROI you are looking for. Do you agree? There are ups and downs to both, and a time and place for both.
Check out the parallels to triathlon. We train a lot. Like yea, A LOT. What can happen (read "what has happened to me on occasion") is that we can start to expect things from that training. And we should, right? We have "invested" ourselves in the sport (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially) and we want that ROI. Ahh, but it's tricky. We aren't talking money here, at least not JUST money, it's ourselves, our sense of self that we have invested. There is no Board of Directors or shareholders forcing us to keep cutting down expenses and raising profits to boost earnings. Nope, it's just us, our swim caps, bikes and running shoes, and the slew of people that help us along the way. We can get lost in our expectations, and like with money when we don't see the ROI we want to take the money elsewhere. Okay, so that can be a little extreme, but haven't you had a race that didn't go as planned and you attached that performance to your training and felt disappointment. The "I trained this hard and I only got XXX out of it" statement. Come On, pony up, we've all been there.
So here are a few pearls of wisdom I have come up with.
Pearl #1: Take the long term view. As with investing, sometime you have to go with the flow, you can't watch the stock market every day or you'll get antsy. You have to plunk the money down and keep a loose eye on the quarterly statements, because your not close to retirement and your in it for the long haul. Same with training. If you are taking the "training is a lifestyle, not a season" approach, then you have to draw conclusions between training and racing on a loosely, not so often timeframe.
Pearl #2: Really folks, watch how much you invest. It's okay to live, eat and breath your sport, but only if you are truly enjoying every step of the way. Also know that if you are throwing everything you own into your sport, and things turn out less than you hope, you may need to have a serious talk with yourself about how much you are investing and whether you are in balance. Neither are bad, I personally am a big fan of talking to myself, just be sure to know yourself, don't be afraid to assess and then reassess your level of investment. I have played the "But I train so hard" pity party when I didn't see the results I was looking for. But after lots of thought and talking with Troy, we realized that I have had more fun during all that training than those who missed out on it. I still wouldn't give up a day of that training for anything, good races, bad races, or no races. Not a single sub-par performance has made me regret the training.
I think in this crazy life of ours we all invest ourselves in "something". Whether it be our jobs, our kids, our hobbies, or a mix of all of those things, it's still so important to make sure that you don't "expect" that illusive return. When you feel that you deserve that return you tend to base your sense of self on attaining your goals. Base your sense of self on what you do day to day, not how you perform on one given day. Make loose connections between training and racing, and when in doubt have fun knowing that you lead an active lifestyle.