Just Some Thoughts on Suffering

Triathletes are the strangest creatures. Truly. They adore talking about their workouts, the long hours, the suffering, and the sacrifices they make in order to progress in the sport. Even Strava, the cycling/running/etc training app, has a “suffer score” for each workout. That says it all. How much can you suffer? How much can stress can you take?

And that’s really what the races come down to. How much suffering can you endure? Can you suffer more than the competitor running next to you? It’s not all about fitness, it’s not all about training (although those are huge parts of it). It boils down to this masochistic pleasure that is praised by the clock and fanatically pursued.

I’m not trying to assume that triathletes are special snowflakes by any means. Every sport has their overachievers; the people up before the sun, putting the miles in when no one is looking. However, having been a high-school and collegiate athlete, I can safely say I’ve found an extremely high percentage of Type-A, overachievers in triathlon. Even the middle-of-the-pack age groupers like myself fret over everything.

I realized I was turning more to food to cope and leaning further away from my athletic roots. I gave myself a good, long look in the mirror, and signed up for my first sprint triathlon. Honestly it was the best decision of my life. Now I can be alone with my thoughts while training, and I’ve been able to get to know myself better through the long hours.

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