No, I'm not literally running through the 6; I've never been to Canada, but I did move across country and sign up to run 6mi (AFTER I swim 1mi and bike 26mi) without my woes, which should count for something.
Did I know what I was getting into? No, but anyone can do it, even you, but it'll be easier with some advice.
1. Be Informed
First off, when I signed up to participate in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon I did not read or research what I was doing, who I was doing it for and what team I was joining. I signed up in the middle of a huge work event and a move across country so a few clicks and a digital signature confirming that I would raise $1800 for charity and I was set.
Had I known exactly what a triathlon was, then I probably wouldn't have signed up. I was arrogant by thinking that if my coworker was participating, I could for sure handle it. When I mentioned to her early in the year that I was considering a move to Cali, she mentioned that she was participating in a triathlon and that I should sign up too. Me, being me, decided that since I hadn't ran any races all year, this would be a good comeback. Always trying to one up the competition.
Thankfully I hadn't researched, because I'm not certain I would've knowingly volunteered to swim 1 mile in the ocean, bike 26 miles along the Malibu coast and finish with a 6 mile run. Fortunately, with proper training anyone can get ready in a few months time. Through my tri team, Team In Training, the flagship fundraising program for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the only endurance sports training program for charity that raises money for blood cancer research, we received a weekly schedule, support group, fundraising coach, mentor and kick ass coaches that coach you like an athlete; not like an overworked, underpaid, parent, child, friend, or employee that interferes with training.
If you're thinking about signing up READ because the commitment is intense and find a great team with people you like because you will spend a lot of time with them.
2. Train Like Lebron
I started training 7 weeks after the rest of my team so I went in with a goal to "Train Like Lebron." What does that even mean? Basically, I wanted to take "no days off" and push myself through every workout, just like a Gatorade commercial! What I didn't realize is that Lebron gets paid to train, unlike myself, so after working, running errands, handling house chores and attempting to maintain a social life, training like Lebron took on a different meaning. Lebron is a full time athlete, but since I am a full time social media manager, when I am finished being an athlete at practice I have to go back to being an overworked, underpaid, parent (I have parented a few friends), child, friend, & employee.
So while attempting to Train Like Lebron, it is most important to listen to your body, train hard as possible when you can and do your best. At every training I wasn't at 100% - I typically live in the 75% range - on so days when I could give 100%, I took advantage of it.
3. Get Tri Friends
This is probably the most important. As you get closer to your race, your priorities shift, your thoughts/mood change and the only people who care are other people on your tri team. Your tri friends soon become just as important to you and as the triathlon itself. My tri friends became my former coworker and her friend on the team. We carpooled or caravanned to every practice; which is helpful because somedays driving is the deal breaker, motivated one another on group chat (or bitch and complain about how you much hate swim practice), and hung out before or after practice; somedays my main purpose of showing up was for the pre and post hangout sessions.
Be transparent with everyone in your circle, especially whomever you're dating. Being physically exhausted on top of being emotionally available means a lot of netflix and chill, and when I had energy was usually after practice, which meant hanging with the Tri team.
4. Stay Focused
You start aggressively training months in advance and with a end goal 5 months out, it's easy to think that you can afford to slack some when exhaustion sets in. Also, when training 6x per week, your body and your mind are bound to go on vacation, with or without you.
While training hard is good, It is important to listen to your body and rest when needed. Far too often I had a "Fuck This Shit" moment and turned around on the way to practice to take go to sleep, which in my opinion, is needed. I wish I had taken a vacation during the process to. It would've been nice to leisurely run, bike and swim to relax for a few days.
5. Know your Goal
Finishing isn't enough. Along the way you'll care less about finishing and more about your personal goal that you are working to achieve.
I chose discipline because along the way I had stopped seeing "giving up" as a weakness, but more of a personal choice. I had to relearn that not giving up is just as important to listening to yourself. Creating a plan, training, executing and completing isn't always easy, but the reward will never be achieved if you give up.
I've been living in LA for 3 months now and staying disciplineed meant not having time to meet new and connect with old friends. You'll never realize how many things you get invited to until you are forced to cancel, only to not get invited to anything else AND learning to become okay with it. I lost count of the number of times I got dressed for and fell asleep when sitting down to request an uber. I just hope that everyone understands when I post that finish line pic on the gram!
6. You Might Hate Before You Love
I haaatttteeeedddddd swimiming. Swimming was my biggest challenge throughout the training and I spoke negatively about it the entire process. Apathetic couldn't even describe me... I showed up hungover to our first ocean swim and doggy paddled back to shore, skipped out of several swim practices, cheated on my laps, and "at home swimming workouts" meant hit the jacuzzi pool at the gym. My hate for swimming turned into love once I went home and swam in the lap pool; I realized I was confident in the water and liked the way doing laps with older white people made me feel (just being honest!).
I also turned ocean swimming into meditation. As I breath I recite mantras, which in the water makes me feel like i'm floating. Now that we are two weeks away from race day I look most forward to the open water swims and even purchased a wetsuit so I can keep swimming once the triathlon is complete.
I compete in the triathlon in 9 days and I'm getting excited. Above it all, I'm going to miss organized training with a committed group of adults. When they say that "The Tri" becomes your life, it's true. I've already started looking at doing an IronMan with Team In Training and looking for a new hip LA Tri Team so I can sign up for my next race and hangout with some like aged/minded Californians.