How all of that discipline, learning and development spills over
Having a sport as a passion involves you dreaming day in and day out to accomplish your huge goal. You then invest your time, skill and energy only to realize that your ambitions all depend upon the upcoming event. With so much at stake, athletes often succumb to mental pressure and end up giving in to preconceived notions about what they are – or are not – capable of.
These negative thoughts can cause triathletes to limit their experiences and achievements. Ironically, these preconceptions that athletes have about their capabilities in the sporting arena are also found in many other areas of our lives too. Whether it is about being the perfect parent or having a difficult conversation with the manager about the prospective promotion in the pipeline, there is a tiny part of our subconscious which whispers “I can’t” into our ear.
But interestingly, many sporting adventures – triathlons in particular – teach important personal and professional life lessons and challenge these perceptions positively. Triathlon is an endurance sport which tests both athletic and mental strength. It develops the confidence that you are capable of far more than you can imagine.
“All of us set limits in our mind and life for how far we think we can go.”
It might seem daunting at first but if you keep the bigger picture in mind, the journey will be much more enjoyable. Here are some lessons triathlon can teach you about your life, which will keep you motivated along the way:
Sportsmanship is for More Than Sports
All athletes strive to set a personal best; however, it needs to be ingrained in your thinking process that your aim should not just be to achieve the goal, but to do so with honor and by giving it your absolute best. Such an approach is part of the sportsmanship model which goes a long way in maintaining your focus in the right direction.
Sportsmanship requires athletes to have four key virtues including:
All participants need to abide by the rules and regulations of their respective sport as unfair competition will lead to an uneven match, which will undermine the integrity of the sport itself.
Much like fairness, integrity also holds that by adopting unfair means, athletes will diminish their own credibility as well as the integrity of their sport.
A key virtue of sportsmanship is to take full responsibility for your actions and performance. This is crucial as at times athletes act aggressively only to blame it on the stressfulness of circumstances and also tend to hold the officiating responsible for poor performance during an event. In triathlon, athletes who receive a time penalty for drafting can either accept that they should have been more careful, or blame a poor finish time on the race official.
Blaming behavior is not healthy as it inhibits you from improving your performance. It is therefore necessary that athletes are taught to assume full responsibility for their conduct, both on and off the course.
It is imperative that all participants show utmost respect to each other and their competitors. That respect will improve a triathlete’s character in other areas of life as well. Luckily triathletes have great models in the sport’s pro athletes, as well as the majority of age group athletes you might meet at any race.
In triathlon, at the age group level, there are rarely required group training sessions. Unlike in school, no one is going to make you get out of bed and run, bike and swim. All of us have periods of high motivation and periods when we quit 10 minutes early or just don’t get up to work out. Accountability for one’s own performance is paramount in triathlon, and because it’s such an individual sport, such accountability often builds on itself and carries over into other parts of life.
Realizing Your Potential
Triathlon is one of those goals that is so big and scary, it really does change your self-image once you complete and event and can call yourself a triathlete. The process of following a training plan successfully and identifying weak areas and working on them, without judging yourself so harshly that you quit, is valuable in every area of life.
In so many other endeavors, we avoid things we aren’t good at. With triathlon, there is likely at least one element of the sport that isn’t a strength, and we have to face up to it and work on it to improve . This in turn allows you to explore and take ownership of your skill set. Dream big and think about what you really want to achieve.
Developing Character Through Athletics
Many triathletes come to the sport as well-developed adults, and don’t need athletics for character development the way children do. That doesn’t mean we don’t grow and develop from participating. Making decisions on race day helps with decision making at home and at work. Planning and progressing over months toward a far-off goal is a great model for so many other things we want to accomplish.
Good habits are as much a part of character as ethics. We often see athletes maintaining healthy diet and workout regimes even after they have stopped competing and racing, because triathlon helped them see how good they feel when they are fit and eating clean.
Taking on triathlon as a new participation represents a huge learning curve in terms of equipment, form, rules and training strategy.
The research and learning process required to succeed in triathlon may open you to many other worlds of exploration, once you realize just how much you can figure out in the course of a few months, and how much other people can help you understand if you ask .
Just follow your passion. Reading, listening and learning makes you a much more interesting person. You can share something positive with the world and contribute according to your own capacity.
We are often caught up in many conflicts and disappointments which don’t let us live up to our full potential. Triathlon teaches you to let go of expectations and give your best to others more easily.
Let go of control. It is just an illusion and an escape to make you feel safe from all the fears and unknowns in your head. Peace is directly proportional to how you have surrendered your expectations from others and entitlements from life.
Remember, you can’t control people, situations or outcomes. So, just let it all go and try your best. Let the results speak for themselves.
Triathlon is a journey in which you learn to embrace your fears and grow as a person. Whether it is a race or any other activity which causes butterflies in your stomach – take on the challenge and surprise yourself with your achievements.
Which significant life lessons did triathlon teach you? Share your answers with us in the comments below:
Evie Harrisonis a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
Find her on Twitter:@iamevieharrison
bonus tip: While you’re in the process of unleashing your full potential, also see how well your mind’s functioning with the BrainTest app.
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