When asked last year why I was training for a triathlon, I flippantly replied that it was to look good naked. I’m not going to comment on whether I achieved my goal (although I totally did) because beyond this superficial (but important) motivator, I ended up having a great deal of fun. And so, last October, from a budget hotel room in Amiens in Northern France, on their interminably slow Wi-Fi, and on my even more interminable phone, I spent about an hour rashly signing up for twice as much fun, and twice as much sexiness. As I write now, some eight months later, I’m trying to recall the thought processes that went into that decision.
I like to believe I processed all the information available and made a balanced decision but decisions are rarely made with the brain alone. My curiosity played a part; I like to test myself, to explore my capabilities, whether that be physically, mentally, musically… (admittedly, I don’t explore very far sometimes) but if I’m being honest, my inquisitive nature didn’t account for much. Ego, and a certain arrogance, were bigger contributors, because the friends I watched compete in the same race last year made it look easy, and so I felt sure I’d be able to do the same.
I also recall how well things had gone for me in 2015. It helped that I remained free from injury, able to meet the time commitments of training, and I recall how relaxed and confident I felt on the day of my event. When things come easy to you, complacency and over-confidence are hard to avoid. Loath as I am to admit it, ego did play a bigger part than the aforementioned (and far more noble) trait of curiosity. Let’s just say I’m a LOT more humble now, and I have even more respect for what my friends achieved. But it wasn’t just ego either.
I had never heard the term until earlier this year – such is my sheltered existence – but I’m beginning to think I was finally swayed by an attack of the FOMOs. Of course my ego won’t let me think I had a “fear of missing out”, just as my ego won’t let me think I signed up because of my ego. Egos are funny like that.
Ultimately the reasons are irrelevant. I made the decision, and once any true decision has been made, you commit. You need to have committed, because it is hard. It’s very hard. You are effectively taking on a second job – did I say it’s hard? – and the loss of all that spare time affects not only you, but those around you who rely on you having that free time, and that flexibility.
I don’t regret the decision – never regret. I imagine that when I reflect on this time, some eight months from now, my memory will have dulled the frustrating and unpleasant and instead I will be left with only the more positive emotions. But I’m not in the future yet and so right here, right now, I’m convinced there are less time-consuming, less exhausting, and less expensive pathways to all of that fun and sexiness, just as I am convinced that some of my friends will tell me there isn’t a triathlon in the world long enough to make me look good naked… but then how would they ever find out?