When I started writing these articles, blog posts or reflections, I had ambitions of penning and sharing my thoughts on a more regular basis. However, I also want my writing to have some relevance and meaning, not just fill space. It’s about making sure I have something to say that people may be interested to learn. Recently, I tried a video log but felt like an idiot speaking into a camera in the middle of nowhere on a bike. I have also found my message is clearer when I write it down and it is then edited for me to review. After last year’s series of ‘Mark’s Musings’, I received some really positive feedback.
It’s probably no coincidence that I find myself becoming more reflective in another build up to Ironman Cairns. This is the third consecutive year I am doing Ironman Cairns and every time I learn something new. Whether it is as a coach or an athlete, I walk away having learnt a lot.
I have previously alluded to being a reflective person by nature. I feel things very deeply, can be quite emotional and often question myself. Am I being a good father, husband, son, brother, coach, friend? Am I making a difference to the world around me? Shouldn’t we look back on our time on this planet and be able to say we made life better within our circle of influence? We all leave this place the same way but our legacy, how we are remembered and how we positively impacted others is up to us.
I have learnt that when I start to naturally question myself and my purpose, the answer I get is very different depending on how tired I am. In previous articles, I touched on how I have been affected by fatigue and how much of it was emotionally-based from not admitting to myself that I was suffering from depression. For years I worked and trained hard, ignoring a need to accept it was ok to feel. I needed to accept that asking for help was not being mentally weak. Once I did this, my energy levels improved and I was a completely different person. My relationships improved, my coaching improved, and my purpose and clarity for life improved.
For years I was just plain tired and couldn’t think straight. I made poor decisions personally and professionally, and were it not for my amazing wife and family I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. I have learnt that when I am tired, I need to be mindful of what I think and the things I say and do. This is especially important for triathletes when training for an Ironman, or even just training for triathlon in general, as it can deplete our system if we push too hard. Hormonally, emotionally and physically we are compromised when in hard training. Being able to recognise this is the key to maintaining a healthy balance between family, work and training. Learn to know when to rest, when to take it easy in a session and when to say sorry to loved ones because you are cranky and tired from training.
I still get tired however that’s life. It could be professional demands or an unsettled child at night, but we all get tired. Remember this tiredness is going to be enhanced when we’re training for an Ironman. I have learnt from my past mistakes not to make any important decisions when I’m tired. More importantly, I know when to rest. If I am thinking like a drunk sailor then I need to take it easy for a couple of days, get some sound sleep and not make too many decisions.