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.”

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