Winter Training; Mentality
By far the biggest difference I've found between triathlon and the sports I've tried is winter training.
Let me quickly make an observation - many people tend to do triathlon in teams or train with clubs and/ or other people. Just because of circumstance I've not been able to do that so it has been an independent "exercise" so to speak.
I'll go into more detail of the why triathlon in another post, but for me a big part was to be outside. I was working from home a lot more; 12 months prior to COVID, and the feeling of going from home to an indoor gym without seeing much if any of the outdoors was affecting me. Also I'm finding that whatever the weather, however adverse it is - I will always run outdoors. Not only do I love running outside, but it's perfectly safe to do so - and running on a treadmill is soul crushing.
I guess this is more or less about cycling indoors. I'm not new to the concept, I've been doing indoor bike sessions since the day I started training for the sport with the one exception... on the weekends, I was outdoors. I don't like to think of myself as a fair weather cyclist either, I've been out in the pouring rain and the freezing cold too, and have all the gear for it - however, up here in North Wales this winter ice has been a serious reality and safety is a serious concern when climbing the mountains up here on thin road tyres, and you're sharing roads with tonnes of steel.
Over the last few weeks, many hours have been put into the indoor trainer. Also, I'm just training for an olympic distance, not even half or full ironman so those guys are on a separate level. What I'm finding is that the mental game is being exercised just as much as the cardiovascular... you're in a corner of a room (literally in my case), putting in hours on a stationary piece of equipment, pushing through quite a bit of pain and grind... and for what... I haven't done any events since this whole thing has begun - I don't have anything to measure progress on bar time trials and power numbers.
A big part of why for me is experience, whether that experience is a competition, a race, or the experience of progressing through a sport and reaching certain milestones.
When the going gets tough, and I'm feeling a little mentally wobbly on the bike after X hours and X weeks and I think why the hell am I doing this to myself... It's very quick I realise that it's for these exact moments.
The tough crap that's enough to make some (including myself on a few occasions) stop for the day, but you keep powering through it. It's so that when the races and events come; eventually, it feels easier that you think it will because of the hours you've put in ahead of time.
There's nothing like the absolute highs of a sport, the PB's, the Milestones, the "medals"... but the process is a long road, and the journey to the milestones and bests and everything else deserves a lot more praise.
So when you're backed into a corner; both metaphorically and literally, keep pushing on and reap the rewards... the sun does rise eventually... even in Wales.. ha!