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  • Jennifer Cruse


My body submerges into the Pacific Ocean and for a quick minute I can't feel my hands or feet. The water is so cold I swear I could turn to ice, but I can't stop now. I've committed to competing in a half ironman and there's no turning back. I've sauntered through the sprint, owned Olympic distance and now I'm ready to go after the real challenge - the half ironman.

This distance (70.3 miles) will test both my mental and physical strength as I swim 1.2 miles (1.9 k), bike 56 miles (90k), and run 13.1 miles (21.1K) on April 11th, 2021.

So why am I motivated to train for a Half Ironman, especially during these challenging times?

Here are some of the reasons why I've committed to this race and what I've learned about myself in the process.

The Power To Change Your Life

Sounds like the title of a new book by Tony Robbins, but it's true. The process of training for these races has changed my life, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually and socially as well. Although there are many physical benefits to training for a race, the mental rewards are even greater. The mental edge you develop from swimming, biking and running is like no other.

One of the main reasons why I enjoy triathlons is because of the mental challenge. For me, the best part of the race is the training and the finish line. Both are equally important. There are so many times during the course of my training for a triathlon that I've wanted to throw in the towel. I've experienced many doubts while training for these races, but I've never given up.

Whether your goal is to run a marathon or to become the CEO of your own company or the best mom to your new born child during the pandemic, you'll likely experience moments of self-doubt. Questioning yourself and your ability is part of the process when you are chasing after your dreams or challenging yourself.

Beating The Quarantine Blues

Have you had mornings during quarantine when you didn't even want to get out of bed? I would be lying to you all if I said I hadn't had more than a few of those kind of days. One of the biggest reasons why I set these goals for myself is the process. I enjoy having something to look forward to in the morning and the the mental challenge of setting a goal like training for a half ironman is a motivator like no other.

Now I'm not saying you have to sign up for a triathlon to help you out of the quarantine blues, but what about taking a minute to sit down and re-write your goals? Is there something that you've always wanted to do, but haven't had the time to step up to the plate? NOW is the time. If you are wondering where to begin, here's a good place to start.

Learn How To Handle Stress More Effectively

Frank Herbert once said, “The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.”

Training for a race like this I've learned to handle stress more effectively. With the world in the state that it is being resilient and developing grace under pressure is needed for survival. I enjoy the benefits of training for triathlons because it gives me time to release and let go off all the things that are too heavy to carry. It's really difficult to think about stress when I'm biking up Old La Honda with a 2,280 feet elevation gain. The moments I'm swimming in the ocean or running allow me the opportunity to escape and to put things into perspective.

Avoid Burnout & Motivation Loss

There are many studies out there that show that people quit their workout or exercise routines because they get burnt out and are not motivated. This is extremely common if you are doing the same workout routine over and over again.

Incorporating three different sports into your workout routine helps you avoid burnout. When you get tired of running, you can go for a bike or swim. If you are struggling during this time I encourage you to pick up a sport or try something you haven't done before. The process of setting a new goal or trying something new is especially helpful when you are going through something challenging in life.

The Friendships

One of the best things about training for a triathlon is the kind of people you meet along the way. Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

Bottom line: The people around you matter. But it’s common for many of us to underestimate the power of the people that we surround ourselves with. One of the reasons why I enjoy training for these races is because of the company and friendships I've developed along the way.

You need people in your life -- whether it's teammates, friends or family -- who will challenge you and make you better. My belief is that if you're always the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

One of the biggest reasons why I enjoy training so much for these races is because of the incredibly motivated people I've met along the way. From my friend Elizabeth who survived breast cancer and competed in a triathlon two years later to my friend Derek who started training for a triathlon after his mom died -- the stories of why people train and compete in these races is truly inspiring.

Final Thoughts

Like Benjamin Mays once said, " The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach."

During the pandemic setting goals, whether they be physically, mental or spiritual can really help calm down your fears and give you a sense of direction. Setting the goal of training for a half ironman has given me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. My belief is that the reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or even consider them as believable or achievable.

If you want to reach a new level in life, write down where you want to go, what your plan is to get there and who you will be sharing the adventure with along the way. I promise you won't be disappointed that you did.


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