After doing my first middle distance triathlon last year and first marathon, I wanted to do something different. I saw the Snowman triathlon advertised and thought this sounded like a good challenge. It was a sprint distance, 750 metre swim, 40 km bike and 5 km run, but with the added difficulty of being in Snowdonia! It would be rather difficult training for such an event, living in Suffolk, but I would do my best. Although it was a shorter distance than I had previously been training for, It was the hardest triathlon I have ever done. Here are five things I learnt from the experience.

If you keep telling yourself you can do something then it will happen.

There were a number of occasions in this event that I had to really dig down deep and use all my inner resources to keep going, especially on the run where the route was 1.5 km up a mountain and then back down. It took me much longer than I thought and I was starting to run out of water and food. However, despite how hard it was, there was no way I was giving up even if I missed the cut off times (unless an official told me to turn around!)

To savour each moment and enjoy the experience.

Despite the difficulty of the course, I learnt to not put any pressure on myself in terms of time. This was unlike any event I have ever done. The swim was in a stunningly beautiful lake in Snowdonia. Yes the water was a bit choppy, but It was a great experience being able to swim in such a beautiful location.

The bike was the best bit, despite some initial nerves about the hills, I was able to really enjoy the experience. It was tempting to actually stop and take some photos!

To maintain perspective and think calmly

There were a few hairy moments on the bike when we cycled along the mountain pass. This had some amazing views, however, it was also the most difficult part of the course with steep inclines on narrow roadways with cattle grids. I had a stay calm and think whether I was able to cycle up some of the hills or walk up. I didn’t want to fall off as there was a steep drop. The posts would have stopped a car going over the edge but not a bike!

I cycled up the first hill. There was a man who overtook me, asking if I was ok as I was breathing so heavily. I was proud of myself that I managed to get up this steep hill. After he overtook me, I went over to the right to give myself some more room. In this way if I did fall off my bike from running out of gears, I would still be on the road! Then I just got my breath back and there was another hill equally steep. I saw a number of people in front walking up and I decided to do the same. It was good to have a chat with a few others. There was a great sense of camaraderie and we managed to have a laugh in the process.

I had never ridden on a mountain pass and I was so pleased I had managed it. It didn’t matter about the time, this was about getting round and doing something completely different.

I learnt more about myself

I was certainly not as physically prepared as I would have hoped for with this event. Life happens and sometimes it’s just not possible to get in all training I would like. I remember one woman saying to me three quarters of the way up the run course when I was really struggling to ‘trust in my training ‘. I wanted to laugh. This is something that I have said to others in the past. Putting in lots of relevant training is certainly the recommended option. But what if this isn’t possible? Instead you have to rely on your inner resources and mental toughness to combat the lack of training.

I was able to pull myself together and get that inner voice working to help me telling me I can do this. The mind always gives up before the body. I just had to get it working with me rather than against me.

How difficult challenges can help other aspects of my life

Putting myself out of my comfort zone really gave me a buzz. It’s such a great way to boost confidence if you process the achievement in a positive way. It provided me with evidence of what I am capable of. I was able to keep calm and maintain perspective even when it got tough. It’s important I remember this experience and reflect on how can this can be applied to the different aspects of my life.

I have recently been learning about character strengths in my positive psychology course. We all have signature character strengths which we naturally find easy to apply to different aspect of our lives. It helps out mental well-being when we apply these to our every day lives. Many strengths we have are underused and need activating. It’s working out how these can be activated.

I suddenly had the insight that doing events, be it triathlons, running or swimming help me to activate some strengths like zest which I am usually lacking in. After an event, I am super motivated and full of energy thinking about what I’d like to do next. I would recommend any one to do the free character strengths survey from the VIA institute. This survey gives you some great self-insight.

Great things happen when you step out of that comfort zone. Try some new experiences. Even if you feel uncomfortable, do it anyway. Just remember to process the experience in a positive way and even if it doesn’t quite go to plan, think about all you have learnt on the way.

Please get in touch if you would like help to overcome any limiting beliefs stopping you achieving your fitness goals. Whether it’s social anxiety about going for a run, joining a fitness class or not having the confidence to enter a half marathon or triathlon. I can help.


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