TRIATHLON LESSONS FROM ADOPTING A PUPPY

puppy

As many readers will know, working full time and training at a reasonable level for triathlon means you don‘t have a huge amount of time for anything else.  Throw into the mix the need for recovery, some work outside of real work and basically I have time to eat and not much else.

So we decided to get a puppy. It wasn’t a huge spur of the moment thought, but the opportunity to rescue a pup came along and we thought if we don’t do it now we will never do it, we just thought that let’s deal with it as we go and thought there is always room to add something else.

After 8 weeks of toilet training, sleepless nights, learning about the intricate nature of puppy behaviour, sickness, endless walks and teething you would think owning a puppy would be the furthest thing from triathlon, but quite the contrary.

Lessons Learned From A Puppy:

Patience

When training a puppy your patience is tested, toilet training is a prime example. Just when you think you have them trained you turn your back for a moment or miss a signal and find yourself scrubbing the carpet after another accident. The same can be said for triathlon, just when you think you have cracked it this sport turns around and throws up another challenge or variable such as weather, injury or a simple flat tire. Its all about being patient and looking at the big picture, realising that the smallest steps all build to the end goal, whether this be Kona qualification or simply getting Luigi to head outside when its time to go.

Persistence

Investment equals reward. The old saying of the only form of failure is giving up is true. You may not have your greatest race but its taking something out of every performance and building your knowledge and experience that you can call on in the future. Not giving up when things don’t go to plan, like when Luigi refuses to sleep through the night, the constant whining or barking, persist with an approach and you will see the rewards at the end, a full nights sleep.

Consistency

In routine, in execution, in everything you do.  Most people reading this will already have a daily routine in place, we need it to function, to manage our expectations of training, work and everything else.

The arrival of a new puppy means the need for a consistent routine is a paramount. Up at 4:30, outside, feed, walk, training, shower, walk, work by 8:30. The earlier you set this tone for the puppy the quicker they adapt to your cycle and become part of your life and not the other way round, its amazing how quickly they recognize what grabbing the bike trainer means and head for the bed as they realise the next 60 minutes will be your time. Consistency in your training and theirs = results, its not about just doing the key session, its about gradual building and creating a strong platform, same goes for the pup. Simple things like sit; shake and social interaction build the blocks of a happy and well-behaved dog for the year’s ahead.

Recovery + Nutrition

A puppy’s body is rapidly growing, changing and adapting, much the same as an athlete’s during different training phases, sleep is required for the body to recover to fight off injury, illness and let the body fully adapt.

Ever wondered why a puppy sleeps, so much during the day, because it as a human sleep is a natural recovery mechanism and as their body is going through so much change and rebuilding after exercise the same applies to us athletes – rest is needed to reap the rewards of the punishment we put ourselves though.

The proper food for growing bodies, fuelling your body correctly before, during and after sessions allows you to not only perform but also recover quicker and aids the adaption element. A puppy without the proper diet will get sick, not develop and can cause serious problems in their older age such as kidney failure sound all too familiar to scenes of bodies crumbling along Ali’i drive.

In the moment

One of the first things my coach mentioned to me was to try and be in moment when racing, especially during ironman distance races, don’t think ahead just focus on the now – this is probably the most challenging part of racing any endurance event as the mind tends to easily think forward and then the thoughts of how far you have to go start to creep in. The look on a puppy’s face when you arrive home, playing tug of war, simply walking, exploring a path, playing – they are truly in the moment, not thinking about what happened yesterday or what will happen this afternoon, just there in that moment. Taking that experience for everything it is. Yes my life is more hectic and my “free” time is much more reduced with added responsibility but the lessons it has reminded me are priceless and keep me grounded, focused on the bigger picture.  I’m slowly beginning to realise while triathlon is one of the most wonderful things on the planet, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of other parts of our life. In fact other parts of your life can enhance your thirst for and performance within triathlon.