How to Lose a Duathlon, But Win in Life

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Life lessons come up in the funniest places!

I recently participated in my first duathlon, which was a 2k run, 20k bike, 5k run. I wanted to try out the duathlon after having done 2 triathlons in previous years and not really loving the swim part.

The duathlon was definitely a challenge, especially since it was quite hot and humid for the 5k run at the end. But I was happy with my times and just completing it!

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Sprinting to the Finish Line!

During my race, I noticed some things about the race and what I was telling myself that I thought would make some nice life lessons to share….yes, I was “writing” a blog post while racing LOL

Lesson 1: Don’t underestimate preparation

Often times in life we go into something thinking “I’ll just wing it” or “I’ve done this before, it will be easy”. Then you actually do it and it’s much harder than expected.

That was me for this race. I’m a fit person and ride my bike as transportation and also did some 15-20k rides prior to the race. However, I only ran a few times as my “training”. I came up with a variety of excuses not to run more before my race and I thought it wouldn’t be too bad. Well, let me tell you, it was TOUGH. I did it, and I was happy with my time, but it was not easy like I was expecting. I know with more preparation and practice running it would have been a bit easier and I may have been able to improve my time.

This concept works with other things in life. Instead of winging it and then struggling and just doing “ok”, take some time to prepare so you can be excellent.

Lesson 2: Believe in yourself

This one is so important! You could have 1 million people believing in you, but if you don’t believe in yourself you’ll never succeed. Support is certainly helpful, especially (on a race) when you are struggling, but your strength comes from inside you.

While I was racing, I kept telling myself “I can do this”. I had faith in my physical ability to complete the race. Which leads into lesson 3…

Lesson 3: The challenge is at least 50% mental

In most life experiences, the challenge will likely be at least 50% mental. Whether it’s giving a presentation at work or running in a race or any other difficult thing, it’s usually not about whether you can do (you can!), but the self-talk that surrounds the event.

Are you doubting yourself? Do you mentally put yourself down? What type of language do you use to speak to yourself (your thoughts)? Positive or negative?

It may be hard to believe, but your thoughts and perceptions REALLY do make a difference in whether you will succeed or not. Skeptic? Try it out. For one week, be all negative about yourself. The following week, try to be more positive. I say “try” because it’s hard to change a habit. Both weeks, take notice of how your feel and what you’re able to achieve. If being positive was worse, let me know….but I doubt it will be :)

Lesson 4: It’s You vs. You

During a race it’s really hard not to focus on those ahead of you or blasting by you. And it’s easy to start feeling down on yourself for not being as fast or as good enough.

But here’s the thing: everyone is at a different stage than you.

In a race you have no idea how long that person has been training or competing. Also everyone’s body is different and better at some things than others. Personally, my body isn’t quite built for running. Yes, I could train more, but I won’t ever win a race. And I’m totally ok with that. There are lots of other things I excel at.

Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s not worth the emotional energy. Really, it’s not. Instead, make it you vs. you. Whether it’s a physical activity or something else, focus on becoming better and being YOUR best. Sure, use others as motivation, but be cautious of that fine line of comparison. As long as you compare yourself to others you will never be happy.

Lesson 5: Take it one day/step at a time

So remember a few paragraphs above when I told you how challenging the 5k run was? There was a point, around 3k when I literally was telling myself to just keep stepping one foot in front of the other. “Keep stepping. Keep going. You can do it” is what I was saying in my head for a few minutes.

I focused on reaching the next kilometer and then the next one.

Often, the easiest way to reach a goal is to break it down into manageable chunks. You can call them mini-goals or milestones. This helps you to feel successful along the way and makes a large goal less daunting.

If you get off track, just dust yourself off and get back on track. If you can learn from the experience, awesome! Then you can better avoid doing it again.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Dream big and get there one step at a time!

Lesson 6: Age is just a number

A little friendly competition is good…especially when it’s a 60 year old woman with whom you keep trading places with on the bike ride! Yup, me and a 60 year old lady kept swapping spots on the ride. I think we both found the competition helpful, as it certainly pushed me to try harder.

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But competition aside, I was so impressed that she was doing the race and almost kicking my butt (I slightly beat her on the ride) at 60!

Don’t let your age hold you back. You can still be fit and healthy at any age! Sure, it might be harder than when you were a teenager or in your 20s, but with the right mentality, anything is possible.

I hope that at least one of these lessons resonates with you and encourages you!! If so, let me know and share with a friend to build them up.

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Lydia Di Francesco is the Founder of Fit & Healthy 365 and Creator of the 15 Minute Workout Club, an online workout membership site. As a Certified Personal Trainer, Lydia educates clients and the public that healthy living doesn’t need to be complicated. She promotes simple, fun, exercise, self-care, and creating a healthy mindset with a long-term approach to wellness.

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