Do People “Get” Triathletes?

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The road to the pinnacle of fitness and endurance may be a lonely one. Long hours of training can be done with others, but practically and logistically, it usually makes more sense to do it on your own. But does this create an isolation effect? It may not be that much different from studying for medical school or prepping for the police academy, but it can still take a toll on your social life.

You’ll be able to show everyone your completion notice, or wear your jersey to family reunions but no one will really be able to fathom or share in what it feels like to make the journey. When people walk the Great Wall of China, they can have awe-inspiring multimedia presentations that put viewers right inside the experience, but it’s harder to communicate what the Ironman goes through at hour 8 on the course.

Of course you could take everyone down to the gym and put them on stationary bikes, jack up the settings and make them to pedal for a couple of hours while you play a video of the track. And when they finish, tell them to take the burning sensation they are experiencing in their thighs and imagine multiplying that by 10. At the conclusion of the session, invite them all to assemble at the pool the next day at 5:00 AM for an open water simulation event. Please get back to me with your attrition rates on this…

It may be difficult to share everything with others and personal journeys are, well, personal. Whatever your goals are, the more you accomplish, the more you will have to contribute to your relationships. The trick will be in finding those who not only appreciate the results, but those who are prepared to support the incremental steps you take to achieve results. Cherish those who do. And if they don’t, keep looking, they are out there waiting to be found.

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