(Photos: #1 -Writer/Triathlete Rose Greenleaf. She used to play hockey. #2 - Ultimate Frisbee - The 2009 Inter-Species World Championship - #3 - A guy in a skirt with a really long knife.)
By Rose Greenleaf
Triathletes relish the fact that triathlon is a multi-sport. Multi-sports alleviate the redundancy for many of us by affording a more rounded approach to training and racing, as well as helping us to guard against boredom and burn out. We can challenge ourselves in areas of weaknesses (most commonly referred to as the swim) and thereby reap the many benefits of overcoming our fears through such accomplishments as not drowning or getting clobbered to death, all the while enjoying our strengths and feelings of empowerment as we give it all we've got during our strong suits. (My strength is maximizing the water stops....) Recently, in an effort to find out what triathletes do for fun and to stay balanced in life in general, I received the following answers from several triathletes I spoke with: "I, um.... train.", "I swim/bike/run?", "I eat chocolate.", "I don't have time to have fun.", and "I'm married. There is no fun allowed...".
Not all triathletes stay inside the sacred ring of triathlon. Some venture outside and indulge in the unspeakable; things spoken about only in dark corners with hushed voices, bent backs, and darting eyes. They actually play other sports or have other hobbies..... Scary, I know. What will our triathlete friends say? Will they look down upon us as disloyal and betrayers of the faith?
I have been known to venture into the dark abyss of Ultimate Frisbee. Aside from spraining my ankle, I have found that UF gives me a sense of balance and fun as I focus on making a touchdown and not on my AT, or PR. It allows me to leave the world of triathlon and explore other exciting worlds such as getting tackled by a big, sweaty guy with murder in his eyes who could care less if I'm a woman or have a race coming up. He wants that frisbee and he's not afraid to do great bodily harm to get it.
Take martial artist Mike Moebeck, for example. To get the inside scoop, Mike and I met incognito at an unknown location at an unspecified time to discuss his...extra curricular activities. Good thing he's a ninja or we never would have found each other.
I asked him why he does anything other than triathlon training and he responded, "I've always been in martial artist, specifically Hiadong Gumdo." After prodding and poking him with a hot iron I was able to carve out more specifically what he gains from balancing his life as a triathlete with a totally different venue: "It helps to keep my world multi-dimensional. It also affords me the ability to be fluid in my movements in contrast to just logging miles while running or biking." Upon further prodding and poking he fessed up: "In Gumdo we train to still our minds in preparation for practice. I am able to use the same technique to calm myself in preparation for a triathlon or running race.
Also, it is important to allow your mind to be occupied by a number of different things. It is too easy to get lost in swim/bike/run because we spend so much of our lives doing it. But there is so much more in this world that should be enjoyed."
I also spoke with 5 time Kona participant Australian, Trevor Bourne. (No, he's not a secret weapon of the government though he may be lying about that.) Doing things with your family, with your friends or even alone can create a benefit across the board that positively impacts your relationships, your mental and emotional well being, your work, and even your races. "I like to say that skiing is my focus and triathlon is my fun." (That coming from one of the fastest swimmers at Kona...) "Having said that, the benefits for everyday living are enormous and they get more pronounced the older we get." And with that he hung on me....
What do you do for fun outside of triathlon? What are you doing to continue to grow on every level and enjoy your surroundings that do not include bikes, pools and run gear? Get out and play badmitton, strike up a mean game of Scrabble or play baseball with your kids. Remember to stay balanced. And, of course, when you do train for triathlon, participate in a race and kick it hard.