Focus and Discipline, by Colleen Bartling
I have been an endurance athlete for most of my life with cross country running and nordic skiing being my initial sports of choice. Having no exposure to triathlon growing up, I stumbled onto it in 2001 when my now husband and I moved from Vermont to Boston. We were looking for likeminded individuals to hang with, so we joined a local triathlon team. At that point, I fell in love with the sense of community the sport brought into my life.
The early part of my triathlon journey consisted of racing as much as I could in as many places as possible. There was no real training plan except to log as many miles as possible in all three disciplines. I’ve raced the triathlon gamut from hundreds of Sprint and Olympic distance races to dozens of half Ironman and 3 full Ironman distance races. I have also finished 5 of the 6 world marathon majors (Tokyo I’m comin’ for ya). I’ve even finished a few adventure races along the way. Now, as a working mom of three, I realize I need help to organize my training to be more efficient, so that I can balance my love of triathlon with work and family. In addition, being a couple decades older than when I started, my recovery strategy is very different.
If I could give advice to anyone looking to get into the sport of triathlon, I’d tell them your training should be as individualistic as you are. My husband and I used to have the same cookie cutter training plans we grabbed off the internet. It may sound obvious, but we are not the same athlete. In addition to being different genders, our bodies respond differently to the same training. It took me awhile to realize there is more than one path to the finish line.
Working with a coach in 2020 has been instrumental in my growth as a triathlete and I’m excited to see what 2021 brings. I ran a personal best in the half marathon this year and I’m pulling down watts on the bike I never thought I’d see. This year has reminded me that what I love about triathlon is the training and the discipline needed to accomplish my athletic goals. Races are just a celebration of all the hard work leading up to the day. The absence of races has rejuvenated my involvement in the triathlon community. It has given me the chance to meet athletes from across the world and work to create more diversity in the sport. Having said that –I’m hoping to fully send it in 2021!