The Algebra of Triathlon

In many respects, triathlon is like a mathematical formula.  There are variables, constants, and degrees of freedom at play, all coming together to create a union of elements that hopefully leads to success on the race course.  Some of the variables are clear:  wind, temperature, race elevation, amount of climbing, personal nutrition, fitness, and so on.

For the vast majority of us, there is a whole different equation that must be factored in during our algorithm for success.  We must learn how to effectively balance other demands in our life – work, family, spousal duties, volunteer duties, parental responsibilities, etc.  Some are much more effective at solving the equation than others.  Others find that doing the math can be difficult. 

We’re all busy.  I certainly am quite busy.  I have three kids – two in high school, and one in middle school.  All of them are involved in out-of-school activities.  One’s a high school varsity cheerleader.  Another is on a high school swim team and is also a year-round swimmer.  The third is on a premier soccer team.  Practice demands are high for each of them, as are their games, meets, and competitions.  As a dedicated parent, attending these events is of paramount importance for me.  I love going to high school football games to watch my daughter cheer; that there’s also a football game is just gravy.  There’s almost no other place I’d rather be on a Saturday morning is the soccer pitch or poolside watching my kids.  Rarely does a weekend come to pass where there’s not at least one sporting event for my kids.  Often, weekends have several events, requiring my wife and I to “divide and conquer”.

We all are involved in volunteerism to some degree or another.  Personally, I lead a middle school small group at our church.  I sometimes teach Sunday School.  My older kids volunteer at a local retirement community.  I am also engaged in the parent advisory group for the local swim team.  My wife is the “uber-volunteer” – and is plugged in at school, with the cheer team, the soccer team, the swim club and so much more.

As a spouse, I like to spend time with my wife.  We’ve been married for almost 20 years (this October will actually mark 20!), and I still enjoy spending time with her as much as I did when we were dating.  Date nights, holding hands, even watching TV or reading together is so very important to us.

Like most of us, I have a career.  It seems like I’m always connected; I constantly am on my iPhone checking email.  I often have calls early in the morning or late in the evening in order to accommodate schedules of my global colleagues.  As a leader, I have a responsibility to my employees; their development and career progression are important to me.  And like many of us, I don’t work a “normal” 40 hour work week.  I often work upwards of 60 hours per week.  Luckily, I have the flexibility of working remotely from my home or from my office.

Here’s the rub.  I’ve written about six paragraphs here, and I have yet to mention triathlon training…or any sort of regular exercise in general.  I find that it’s really difficult to match my triathlon goals and desires (and expectations given that I’m on a national triathlon team) with all the “stuff” in my life.  It seems that if anything is to take a back seat in my life, it’s triathlon.  As it should be given where I’m at in life.

And yet, the conundrum.  Now that my foot is well on the way towards healing, I’d really like to do at least a couple of races this fall.  My plan at this point is to race a local event – called the Hammerhead Olympic Tri (or HOT) – in September and then Rev3’s Half Rev (70.3 distance) race in Venice, FL in early November.  The tough part?  Figuring out a way to get in all the required training such that I don’t enter these races and have them essentially be suffer-fests.  Frankly, I’d like to PR one, if not both.  To do that, though, I’m going to have to get really, really good at balancing the equation of life with the equation of tri.

Anyone got one of those scientific calculators I can borrow?


3 thoughts on “The Algebra of Triathlon

  1. Pingback: Where To Now? | Chatter Gets Fit

  2. I love your analogy of balancing real life with tri life to a mathematical equation. Some days it’s only algebra, and some days it’s multi variable calculus. But that’s what makes us triathletes unique!

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