With the completion of Ironman 70.3 Arizona this past weekend, I put a close on my 2017 triathlon season. Before I shift gears slightly and focus my “off season” training on road running, I look back and reflect on my third year in the sport of triathlon. I think the most important lesson I have learned this year is this:
Strive for that which is outside of your comfort zone, but learn to let go of expectations and embrace the uncertainty of success.
This is by no means pessimistic, as I am a firm believer that anyone can achieve what they set their mind to with enough passion and self-belief. However, I am always one to set high standards for myself and to feel as if I am a failure when these standards aren’t met exactly as I laid them out. This is always counterproductive to my long-term success and mental well-being.
My 2017 season has by no means been a failure, but I have experienced many “failures” along the way. My first “failure” came when I pulled out of Project DM (extreme Ironman-distance triathlon) 9 miles into the run. My second “failure” came in not achieving a sub-5:00:00 half-Ironman at Ironman 70.3 Boulder (5:12:09) and at Ironman 70.3 Arizona (5:05:29). I literally put everything I had into these two pursuits, but on paper came up a bit short.
I look back on these events and see them not as “failures”, but rather as successes in the fact that they are stepping stones towards future success. It has become apparent to me that the only true failures in life are the ones that we fail to learn from. I may have miscalculated when I will have successfully realized my goals, but I certainly didn’t aim too high.
Maybe 2018 will be where I conquer Project DM and cross an Ironman 70.3 in less than 5 hours, or maybe it will be a later year? What I do know, however, is that I WILL reach these goals eventually. I will always set the bar high for myself, and I will continue to do so for my 2018 triathlon season.
Throughout this past year, I have slowly embraced a new approach towards training, and towards life for that matter. I have learned to let go of expectations and embrace uncertainty, which in turn takes a lot of the pressure and anxiety off of my shoulders when it comes time to perform. I shoot for the moon, but accept the fact that the moon is a very, very long ways away and I may miss reaching it from time to time. I think this lesson applies to so many things in life, including our careers and our passions.
Chasing our dreams is a process, and it is impossible to predict that process and how it will unfold with 100% accuracy. So as 2017 creeps to an end, I go forth with an eagerness to tackle next year’s challenges, but embrace the uncertain nature of the lofty goals I have set for myself! I will surely learn just as much about myself next year as I have this past year, and for that I will always be grateful.