I was chatting with a fellow Ironman Triathlete about coaching earlier this morning and we were having a little chuckle about how your perspective changes after a season or two of ironman. You get to a place where you have a ton of mental Grit to get done (and do it well) just about anything you set your mind to. And just a ton of other wonderful things that happen. Let's looking at this awesome list.
Mental Grit: There is something that happens when you push yourself past self imposed limitations, over and over, and learn that yes there are limits, but usually we stop way before those. I was really gifted with this two times, once in my first IM in Wisconsin during the swim portion. I had almost drowned as a child so getting to the point of being able to do the swim well without freaking the heck out was a ton of mental grit, through the whole season and race day. It's was one of my most beautiful life moments. The other was doing the very best that I could at IMTX in 2018, where during the run it was a full moon, I was praying, and running. Running when I didn't want to. Running when everyone else was walking. Running to chase down a time that I knew I wouldn't get, but doing the best I could anyway.
Heal your soul: When you allow yourself get stripped down during ironman season ... you see things about yourself that don't serve you anymore. Things that you know need to evolve in order to get the astronomical task done. If you're brave enough to face your demons and help them to heal ... your soul heals. You evolve into that next best version of yourself. And it's so much quicker than a lot of personal growth challenges. The feedback is pretty immediate. Kinda like pixie dust if you go the chops to look at it like that.
A story from my life, I almost drowned when I was little. And that was surrounded by ample amounts of childhood trauma. So the swim anxiety that I experienced during swim was of the extreme nature. Through a series of hard experiences, many failures, techniques, not giving up and a whole bunch more ... I managed to move past fake it until you make it, to healing my heart. It was such a wonderful experience to complete my first ironman swim, Wisconsin Mass Swim start, probably one of the best experiences to be had, with no anxiety. That is the first time that I really grasped that I could move past my childhood issues. That I didn't have to live a life of dealing with my crazy. Some of it I could transform into a healed cornerstone of strength.
Strong Body: If you are doing the training right, your body goes through a series of evolutions where you heal through injuries. If you have the help that you need, you end up cultivating a body that is more sound and balanced. You are left with a body that is epically strong, the mind is a metric f ton stronger and you feel invincible. You might still be a little fluffy and imperfect, but that's really not the point.
Confidence: You have achieved something most people wouldn't do. You've done something that you thought you couldn't. You know how to approach fear and challenges and come out on top.
AND .... sometimes those things roll downhill and affect your friends, family and maybe even the little people.
Training for something very difficult can be very rewarding. It can be very hard and I have seen where people don't make it. They turn and go another direction. And thats ok. You have to be READY to take on that challenge. Not feel like you are ready. Not think that you are ready. It's a little secret that your soul shares with you, drives you forward. When you are doing something and you think to yourself ... why the heck did I think this was a good idea, but somewhere in a secret place in your heart, a voice says to keep going. That READY. If you aren't ready for the difficulties, that just means you have other work to do to get ready.
And that doesn't mean that attempting an ironman isn't where you do the "get ready" part. There is nothing that says that everyone will complete their mission the first time out. In fact, on paper that is just silliness. Most people that accomplish big A things fall on their face the first time.
GRACE AND GRIT: Thats what I think triathlon and ironman really gifts you with. Hopefully we all learn that we are all very capable. We are all enough. We are all FREAKING badassly awesome and we don't have anything to prove. These hard things are just to help us learn and grow. Not prove a damn thing. Doesn't matter if you are overweight and doing ironman. Or a pro athlete finishing first. We are all wonderful human beings that have a voice, have a story and need to SHINE our love and gifts out to the world. This is what I think ironman helps us learn how to do. At an Ironman. At life. As a parent. Spouse. Friend. This is why I tell my athletes .... train train train for the best damn finisher picture you can. This attitude is the sum total of this. To let your heart and soul shine when you FINISH your goal. When you ACCOMPLISH what you set out to do. You will look back and see that on the inside ... you are soo beautiful and strong. You are enough. And you're badass. ;) <3