I’m participating in an Olympic distance triathlon in three days. The event consists of a 1.5km ocean swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.
Two days ago, I wrote an email to my coach, asking to be talked down. I always get quite nervous before an important event. (This event is important solely because I have spent the last four months training very hard for it.)
I wondered if, by the end of the three(ish?) hours, I would feel the same level of fatigue and pain as I do in a marathon (his answer was “No”, thankfully). I wondered just how hard things would get. I wondered if my chain would come off my bike, if I would get kicked in the face during the swim, if I’ve trained enough, ate enough, ate too much, drank enough water this week. This, my friends, is a perfect example of pre-race nerves.
I’m a competitive person. I suppose most people that train and compete in events where success is measurable are competitive by nature. I’m competitive against myself, and I’m competitive when I think of how fast/strong my friends are and I’m really competitive when I’m in the water, or my saddle or my sneakers and creeping up on another swimmer/biker/runner in front of me. That ignights a fire inside of me that exists solely in races. The problem with competition that I have found, is that it often evolves into something unhealthy.
I score a personal best in a race and that keeps me satisfied for a few weeks, maybe a month. Then I start thinking about how I could run faster. I run a 5k around my neighbourhood and feel great, until my friend tells me that she runs her 5k faster.
The problem with competition is that there’s never a stop line. It never ends.
There’s always someone faster, skinnier, stronger, prettier, younger than me. There’s always someone in a yoga class who hasn’t spent a decade running and can comfortably lean into triangle pose while I’m stuck with my hand resting on two blocks. There’s always someone at the beach who has visible abs, instead of the softness that hugs the edge of my bathing suit decorated with faint silver lines reminiscent of that 60lbs I gained during my first pregnancy. There’s always someone who runs faster and trains less.
The problem with comparing myself to other people is that I’m never enough.
Yoga has helped me to let go of a lot of those feelings, a lot of the time. Allowing myself the compassion to practice on my mat the way in which my body needs has helped me understand that this is my body. My body has been good to me. My body has housed and birthed two great blessings. My body has travelled through this world. My body has helped me cross countless finish lines, sometimes strong, sometimes in tears. My body is wise and knows what I need, even though I don’t always listen.
This is a challenge that I will continue to face for the rest of my life, I believe. But I do face it, and I remind myself to be gentle, to be kind, to show the same compassion towards myself that I feel so easily for others.
So I head into this race on Sunday with the intention of practicing Satya (truth). I will push myself hard, I will push myself through the pain, I will give my all in the water, on my bike and in my sneakers, and then, no matter how long it takes me, I will be proud of myself for my hard work in the past four months and on Sunday.