How to Train for a Triathlon in 260 Weeks

Note: If you REALLY want to run a triathlon, you can get ready much sooner than 260 weeks. For a real, actual, triathlon training plan that will only take around 12 weeks if you’re committed, check out this link.

I decided to run a triathlon when I was 19.

I was sitting in a Bill Millers Restaurant in San Antonio waiting for a massive order of fried chicken. I’m not sure how that relates, or if it does at all. In my experience since that day, fried chicken and triathlon running don’t often cross paths, unless you’re like me and your favorite thing to say after a workout is, “I earned this.” Often times, what I felt I had earned came in breaded strip form, with lots of sauce on the side, and a sweet tea to drink.

That day, I was in college, working as a summer youth intern in San Antonio. I had spent the past year and a half getting into the best shape of my life. I had found both a hobby and a passion in working out, and I felt like it was time to take the next step.

I didn’t actually run the race until I was 25.

Why did it take so long?

If you don’t know me or my story, you might assume that I trained slowly and methodically. Perhaps I drew up a training plan, or borrowed one from an expert. Maybe I set aside a few hours a week and gradually increasing my workload over time. Finally, with several months to go, I circles the date on the calendar where I would, at long last, compete for the first time. This would be when my training became the most vigorous. And then, on that day, with all the right triathlete gear, and knowing all the right lingo like “transition area” and “block training,” I would take my talents to the course, finish without breaking a sweat, and cross the finish line with a satisfied, but subdued look on my face. Mission accomplished. Just like I had always expected.

What actually happened?

I didn’t run for several months. I didn’t swim laps for nearly three years. I developed a borderline food addiction (more on that here). I put on nearly 50 pounds.

Of course, I did some good things during that time too. I finished two degrees. I got married. I took my first job after college, then my first full-time job. I traveled. I watched The Office approximately 49 times start to finish. Surely that’s worth at least one Dundie, along with a bronze (or blue) yogurt-lid medal.

Still, it took me over five years to accomplish my goal. With such a long a timeline, can I still consider this to be a success story?

Yes. Without a doubt. Absolutely.

Why might somebody say that I wasn’t?

Because perfectionism wants you to believe that success is linear. Like an elevator ride to the highest floor of a building, perfection wants you to think that anybody who rides to the top does so without any setbacks or stumbles along the way.

I’m here to tell you, that’s simply not true. The journey to success more closely resembles a roller coaster ride. A ride with rises and falls, peaks and valleys, twists and turns. The journey to success is going to be messy, emotional, and sometimes hard to predict.

But does the journey lessen the reward at the end? Absolutely not. No matter what you accomplish or how long it takes, achieving success still feels awesome.

On July 15th, 2018, I ran the TriWaco Sprint Triathlon. I honestly don’t remember where I placed (I wasn’t first, but I also wasn’t last) or what my times were. All I remember is that I finished.

And once you get there, nobody can take that away from you.

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So what about you? What’s your goal? Did you begin a project a few years ago that you set down once life got too busy? Did you hit a road block and get stuck? Let me encourage you to go back, to pick it up again, to hit reset and start again.

Because nobody will remember WHEN you finish. They’ll just remember if you did or not.

Let’s be finishers together.

PS: For more on finishing, check out one of my favorite books here. Coincidentally, it’s titled “Finish.”

Don’t Do Anything “Soon”

One of* my favorite scenes from “The Office” involves Kevin and Pam discussing what the term “soon” means.

(Disclaimer: I have about 150 “favorite scenes” from The Office. It’s my all-time favorite show and I’ve watched the entire series more times than I’m willing to publicly admit.)

Pam has ordered a new copier for the office, but hasn’t set it up yet. Kevin comes to her desk and asks when the copier will be ready. Pam’s reply?

“Soon, Kevin. It will be ready soon.”

Kevin’s response is incredibly interesting to me. Kevin (how do I put this nicely?) doesn’t have the reputation of being the “most insightful” character on the show, but I think he brings up a good point here.

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Kevin replies, “Soon could mean anything. Soon could mean three weeks.”

Yes, Kevin. Yes it could. Or three months. Or three years.

Soon is the most non-committal word in the English language.

There’s a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop being built close to my house. We have a Fuzzy’s in downtown Waco that has opened since we’ve moved here. My wife and I eat there about once a week, so I’m looking forward to all the money I’ll save on gas once the closer store opens up.

(I’ll probably just spend that money on queso, but still, a penny saved is a penny earned, right?)

However, I get frustrated every time I drive by the store. I’m still waiting to see the sign that says, “Opening on (This Date).” I can’t wait to circle the date on my calendar and maybe – if I can talk Mary into it – show up early to be one of the first 100 in line. I’m sure that will guarantee me free Fuzzy’s for a year and ultimate taco happiness.

Instead, they have had the same sign up for weeks – “Coming Soon.”

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Now I get it, when you’re in the restaurant-building business, it’s hard to commit to a specific date. Too many things can happen. Rain can delay construction. A late shipment of equipment or supplies might prevent you from being able to train your new employees on time. I get it.

But how often do we take the same approach without similar excuses? How often do we have goals, dreams, and aspirations that we plan we’re going to get to “soon?”

Anybody can do anything soon.

I’ve never sang in front of an audience, but I could tell you that I’m going to release my debut album soon. Or maybe I’ll start a band, put out a couple albums, get my name out there, and then, after a power struggle with the guitarist, I’ll go solo. That’s how everyone else does it, right?

I could tell you I plan to start “soon,” and if it never happens, that’s okay. I haven’t lost anything. I just never got around to it.

If you make plans to do something soon, you probably have good intentions. You want to get it done. And one day, maybe, you will.

But the word “soon” is often a roadblock on the road to done. So let’s stop doing things soon.

If something is REALLY important to you, give yourself an artificial deadline. Say, “I’m finally going to do that, and I’m going to do it now.” Or, “I’m going to do it by the end of the week.” Or month. You get it. Give yourself an appropriate timeframe to complete your task. And use the natural pressure of that deadline to hold yourself accountable to finishing.

You don’t have to do this for everything, because not everything carries the same level of importance or urgency. Would I like to clean my garage one day? Sure, I’d love to see what’s been hiding in there for years. Do I have to do that by Sunday at midnight? No, absolutely not. And it would be foolish to limit myself to that goal and, in the process, neglect more important matters.

Some things aren’t priorities. But other things are. And maybe, just maybe, they’re too important to do “soon.”

Set yourself up for success. Give yourself a deadline. Hold yourself accountable. And celebrate the win.

PS: I heard through the grapevine that the new Fuzzy’s is supposed to open by the end of the year. Let’s celebrate 2019 with queso!

I’m Blogging Again. Here’s Why

It’s been almost a year – to the day – since my last post.

After posting seven times in two months, I have posted exactly zero times in eleven months. The break was both intentional and unintentional.

Blogging is something that is easy to push down the to-do list, and over the past several months, I’ve had other (more important) projects that have dominated my time.

I have spent more time with teens. I have taught more classes – sometimes as often as three times per week. I have gotten closer to finishing my Masters in Divinity. By the time Christmas gets here, I will only have four classes left. I ran a triathlon. We had a baby (who you need to see, if you haven’t yet).

Don’t worry, I have pictures.

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Be honest, you started singing Vanilla Ice to yourself after seeing that last picture. If you didn’t, it’s time to stop, collaborate, and listen….

There’s another reason I stopped writing – and one that I need to confess.

I had the wrong motivation.

It’s not easy to admit, but I was writing for the wrong reasons. I was writing because I wanted to be read. Nobody likes to admit that they cared about others’ opinions, but I did. I would check the stats on my blog, and often I would get discouraged because they were lower than I expected. I had a blog post that did really well, and it wrecked my standards going forward. I have a sick and twisted mind, I know. 

One of my favorite quotes, spoken originally by Robin Sharma, goes like this: “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” Over time, this quote has been re-adapted to fit many different circumstances (ex: “Money is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”) I also like the way Jon Acuff put it – does data work for me, or do I work for the data?

When it came to my blogging, data was originally a servant, and then it became my master. The biggest problem was that blogging was something that I enjoyed. I like writing. Both of my parents are writers. My brother is starting to make a name for himself as a writer (check out his latest story here, but don’t expect to have dry eyes by the time you reach the end).

So, after a year off, I am back, with a different motivation. I’m not here to serve the data. I’m not here to put up numbers. To be quite frank, I’m not here for anybody besides myself. I’m not going to beat myself up if I go a few weeks or months without writing. I’m not going to check the data.

(Okay, I might check once or twice, just out of curiosity. After all, it does show up on the WordPress homepage. I’m not perfect!)

Still, even if I do occasionally check my stats, data is not my master anymore. My heart is in a different, much healthier place.

I like writing, so I’m going to write. I don’t know how often, or what about, or even if anybody will read. But that’s okay.

I’m here for me.

I’m here to have fun.

I’m here to write simply because I enjoy writing. And I’d love to take you on the journey with me.