For the injuries we cannot see.

Improvement in physical fitness will usually increase success with time.  The rate of that success depends on numerous factors and not being physically injured is the secret to getting there. Success is the tell-tale test of how an athlete is progressing. Whether you shave 10 seconds off swimming 100m or setting PBs on a 5k run or longest bike ride ever . When we have a weakness, we work to get better at it and set goals to work towards an improvement. Now physical effort requires a tank of energy and throughout the swimming, biking and running, we work off that energy. Then refuel and repeat. It is a quick cycle and as long as we can stay injury free, and follow prescribed training plans, we will always see success in some form or another. The basics of improving physical fitness is readily available on the interweb and remarkable improvements can be made very quickly and of course it is quite rewarding when you get there. You just have to put in the effort.  A physical injury can quickly reverse progress and put you back week or months depending on the injury. 

Now pride moments are very important as it can drive the mental side of fitness which is mutually important. Some even say that half and full ironman training is 90% mental. If that is true, that is significant. So what do you do to work on your mental fitness. I try to push my mental limits through curbing anxiety through the deep breathing when I want to give up. While attempting to stay injury free of course. 

So what should we do about injuries we cannot see or feel them in a different way than saddle sores. I am talking about mental health and depression. When I talk to fellow triathletes, most people have a story to tell. I think all of us have been through a trial of a lifetime. I also find most endurance athletes( that is you 70.3/140.6 athletes) require the focus of the training to take their mind of whatever mental injury is ailing them.  That could be both work and home stresses and our bodies have evolved to handle stress through physical activity. Stress is actually a good thing when used sparingly.  So when you discover success why is the background story always make the success that much more incredible because of how far someone has come. 

I look at Lionel Sanders, Canadian Male triathlete easily in the top 10 in the world.  He has quite a story where during high school became socially-phobic and depressed and had drug and alcohol issues which sent him spiralling down.  On the way down, he started to run but it still did not make him feel better.  Well the running idea lead to signing up for an Ironman. That same addiction to drugs fuelled his need to excel in the sport. Now years later is on top of the world.  Definitely inspirational.  What are some of your dark secrets and did they lead you down the triathlon path?

I myself suffered from depression a few years back. I used training for a half marathon to deal with the stress and emotions while out on the pavement.  I did a training plan and finished my first half-marathon in 1:43:07.  I was training 4-5 times a week and after the race, i went through some pretty bad lows where I was extremely unmotivated and lazy.  I have tried to use that 2-3 week fall-out to keep myself motivated while triathlon training all year long for a few triathlons per year . Now if I have an off week if I am sick or really busy that I cannot train, i just forget about that week and try harder the next time. 

I definitely use the training to deal with my stresses from work. Without working out, I can definitely start acting like 'oscar the grouch'.  I know that I deal with stress through physical activity but what strive to improve my mental fitness when I notice an excuse to not complete a workout or starting to get out of social events.  My wife is also a big component in helping me with some of my mental struggles.  She can notice right away and instead of stating well you need to stop thinking like that she finds ways to get me out of the funk so I can get through my struggles myself.  How do you get through some of your struggles?  Bottom line up front: Start talking about it.

I am actively seeking a military veteran who has a physical or mental injury.  I want to help them achieve their unimagined goals if completing a half or full ironman is there next mountain to conquer. I have contacted soldier-on and wounded warrior on the east coast of Canada with no success.  Perhaps with Invictus games and the recognition of swimming, cycling and running will be able to match me with a partner to participate in the games and provide some pride and success for someone who really needs to become motivated again.

Who knows they may become the next paraolympic triathlete for Canada!


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