You Have to Build to Achieve
It is really easy to get excited about an event, signing up, and telling everyone what you're going to do and how amazing it will be. But then, you realize to get to that point takes hard work, effort, and dedication, and suddenly the excitement of the event is minimized by the actual fact that you have to build up to it.
Triathlon and distance running, and other endurance sports are no different. People often get swept up in the excitement of saying "I signed up for an Ironman", or "I'm going to run an Ultra" without looking at what it takes to get there. They sign up and suddenly believe that the ability to be able to compete in a endurance sport comes with the registration.
But it doesn't.
Being able to compete in any sport takes dedication, commitment, drive, determination, and in some cases sacrifice. Are you willing to give up time out with friends so you can train for hours? Are you ok with not going out and partying on Friday or Saturday night because you have a long bike/run/swim the next day? Are you good with getting up early, going to the gym, working all day and then, you guessed it . . . going back to the gym? These are some of the things it takes to be able to do what you so quickly signed up for.
For example: when I trained for an Ironman Triathlon, I had to build up my endurance. That meant getting up at 4am and going out for a run, then going to work, followed up by and swim or bike or strength workout. As I started to build, and the closer I got to race day the longer the workouts became. When I peaked, I was at roughly 16-20 hours a week training.
I also didn't jump into long distance triathlons without gaining experience. Sprint and Olympic triathlons were used to see if I could go to the next level. Once I gained a level of confidence there, I moved up to 70.3 and 140.6 distances. And even then, I still did short distance to hone my skills, and tweak things that didn't go as well as I wanted. This is all part of the building process.
I met someone once at the lake who was having issues putting on their wetsuit. As I was helping him, he said that it was the first time getting into a wetsuit, and that he thought he should try it before his race next weekend. I asked what race and he said "I'm racing Ironman Wisconsin". When I asked why he waited until the last week before trying on a wetsuit, he replied "I have never swam in open water before. In fact it's my first triathlon ever, go big or go home right?" I said good luck and walked away. As I swam, I noticed he didn't stay long, and I wonder to this day if he went and failed, or just stayed home?
It's great to have a goal and dream big. But you have to work toward that goal, and in sports like distance running and triathlon, you have to build (and sometimes sacrifice things) to get to that goal. That means working out every day, putting forth the effort, and being willing to do what's hard (for now) in order to make it seem so easy on race day.
Live healthy, be happy