Learning how to be comfortable alone teaches athletes an all-important lesson
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When people first meet me, they usually think of me as somewhat of an extrovert. I find it easy to talk to, relate to, and mingle with people no matter what their background or personality is.
My time in the academe exposed me to all sorts of people such that I was trained to relate to each person better. It’s also one of the reasons why I find it easy to be a coach. I enjoy hearing people’s stories and helping them with their personal goals. However, when I’m by myself or with my immediate family, one thing is for sure, I’m an introvert.
Extroverted introvert is a term I heard online quite recently and that’s something I relate quite well to. I can be outgoing and friendly yet I still prefer to be with myself or my loved ones. I don’t really like going out but I look forward to spending time with all kinds of people. I’m talkative but I also love being quiet. In the famous words of the band Green Day, “I’m a walking contradiction.”
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So where am I going with this point? It has to do with the sport I chose: triathlon. Extroverted introverts like me are perfect for triathlons and other multisport events. Being social and anti-social at the same time can work to your advantage.
While I enjoy doing a workout with a close friend or two, I’m not big on group training, club rides, and other types of social workouts; I prefer to work out alone. Others might think of this as boring, or even a “kill joy,” but it’s nothing personal really.
Being a father of two, how I allocate my time is the most important part of my list. The time I spend away from my family is limited and well-calculated. Doing my workouts alone (and usually indoors) allows me to maximize each hour I spend training. The overhead of traveling with, waiting for, and even managing other people can easily be allocated towards recovery, sleep, or even quality time with the kids.
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Training alone also helps me frame my mindset during the race. Yes, I don’t disregard the fact that you need to surround yourself with great, fast, and hardworking people to be successful. However, being over reliant also has its drawbacks.
For one, triathlons, duathlons, and even marathons are individual events. Being “happy” alone during an event has a lot of advantages: You’re able to pace yourself well. Trying to race alongside slower or faster people is usually a recipe for disaster. Either you don’t reach your goal or you blow up during the race. This can also be a problem if you do it too often in training.
Oftentimes, one’s ability to feel the right pace and execute accordingly gets desensitized. Racing alone teaches self-reliance. From handling your flats and taking care of your nutrition to managing aches and pains, you become wiser and more resilient.
Racing alone teaches self-reliance. From handling your flats and taking care of your nutrition to managing aches and pains, you become wiser and more resilient
Lastly, learning how to be comfortable alone teaches us this all-important lesson: “We are the masters of our fate and the captains of our soul. (William E. Henley)” People around us are just there to support, guide, and accompany us; if we have a goal, a target, or a plan, we, ourselves, are responsible for the outcome. Each day we train (even if no one is there to push us), instills discipline, a sense of responsibility, and dedication that cannot be replicated. These qualities are what makes a person successful.
In closing, let me just point out that there’s nothing wrong with training with a group (big or small). However, if you have specific goals you want to achieve, you also have to be comfortable racking the miles and hours by yourself. Nobody can talk you into a workout if you, yourself, don’t work up the will to accomplish it.