Priorities are a funny thing.
They are the thing that’s the most important. They are what you choose to dedicate your limited time to and what you consider most valuable.
Priorities change; and quickly, too! Life throws curveballs and that to-do list for today quickly gets shuffled to tomorrow.
Before my double mastectomy, I used to love answering, “What are you training for?”:
- Warrior Dash
- Tough Mudder
- My first 5k!
- My first “triathlon”
- My first sprint triathlon
- Half marathon
- Half Ironman
As time passed and I got into more things, the goal and challenge became bigger. Sometimes I felt the pressure and had to respond with the next biggest response. Maybe it was all in my head. The pressure to have a ‘big’ goal is also quite entertaining—think about it. Training for a 5k or smaller races yield many confused and bewildered looks from people. But, training for a small race also takes a lot of work, too—especially if you’re aiming for certain target paces or aiming towards consistency. Smaller races are all out sprinting, and gosh! sprinting can be hard!!
For a long time, racing has been at the top of the priorities. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still up there but, how I look at it and treat it has shifted. I’ve been actively doing running races and triathlons since 2013, and constantly surrounded by amazing athletes — many elite and fast ones, too!! Last year I was unsure of racing or what I’d physically be able to do. Lo and behold, I did many sprint triathlons, half marathons and even my first full marathon. I wanted to survive and finish without any particular goals in mind. I flew by the seat of my pants.
In November of 2015, I started training for an EPIC race: American Triple T in Ohio. It’s 4 triathlons in 3 days. Guess what? I earned my first Did Not Start (DNS). Due to complications and issues flaring up, I had to get in to see my doctor. The only day he could fit me in was Friday, May 20th, the same day the race was starting. If I didn’t take the appointment, I wouldn’t have been able to see him until June/July. I listened to my body and took the appointment.
I had a half Iron event on Father’s Day, and guess what? I earned my second DNS badge. I honestly didn’t think about the event until I went on Facebook late that night and saw posts from friend’s!
I thought I could push through. Unfortunately, the intensity of long-course triathlon training just aren’t nice on the post-mastectomy body. My body (and mind) needs more time and patience. I don’t want the frustrations and self-imposed pressure of having to get this swim in knowing my body will be in pain for two days later. I don’t want to do events and races just to get by and cross the finish line. I want to do it well; correct training and all. Right now, I have no desire to do a full Ironman or even another half Ironman. Heck, I am totally content just doing sprint triathlons (when I get back to them). They are challenging enough and I can always improve.
Time passes and priorities change.
Things aren’t weighing so heavily on me and I’m no longer beating myself up about “retiring” from triathlons right now. I’m happy to hang it up. I want consistency in one sport: running!!
I’m deliberate with my time and priorities, and leaving room for life. Running, strength training, yoga-ing, gardening, spending more time cleaning up my yard, creating the backyard oasis, spending time with friends and family (kids grow up fast!), working, and the list goes on are my happy place.
What am I training for? I’m training to beat my 5k personal best and crack 2 hours on a half marathon – a worthy (lofty) time goal for a marathon, and training to do my first ultramarathon.
So, here’s where I stand: 1.) Life is for the living. I am fit. I am healthy. I have new goals. Other things in my life have become the priority. I don’t have the pressure of training for three different sports hanging over my head. My mind is healthy and even stronger. I’m doing things because I want to, not because I have to or it’s in the (triathlon) plan. The time I spend running feels like fun, not work. I’m doing things for my personal enjoyment and because it makes me happy. 2.) Consistency is the key to any exercise program. I am working with a running coach to help me achieve some goals, keep me accountable, report back to, and help me not only cross the finish line of another marathon and my first ever Ultra, but to do it well (goals) and with a little fun thrown in. I don’t want to wing a marathon (like I did the Chicago one) or guess on what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I’m loving the challenges and workouts each week. My coach is constantly pushing me outside my comfort zone and giving target paces that I’m worried or nervous about falling short. But, I use those fears and use it as fuel mentally and physically. 3.) I’m working with a nutritionist. I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with food and done my fair share of mindless eating. With all of the running miles I’m putting on this body, I want my body to be fueled properly and correctly. I’m learning much about foods, fueling, and more. I’m enjoying seeing the changes to my body as a result. I’ve lost 4 pounds already (that I know of) and it’s made a huge difference with things over all. I’m continuing to tone up and get to my goal race weight for this marathon and ultra.
Please understand it’s nothing personal when I pass up a bike ride, doing a certain race or whatever it may be. My priorities have changed. It’s okay to “retire” from something that isn’t bringing much joy or happiness. Life is too short to be frustrated or unhappy. Figure out what’s important and go from there! It’s truly okay to hang whatever it is that’s not bringing fun or happiness to your life. Maybe someday you’ll eventually find the joy in it again and return!