Time in Transition


As a triathlete, I want to spend as little time as possible in transition. Our tribe reads, studies, and rehearses ways to shave seconds off of those few minutes between swimming, biking, and running. This is an opportunity – with relatively little effort – to decrease our overall time, or at least reduce some race-day confusion and stress.

In my non-triathlon life, I tend to avoid transition with eual verve. The less time I can spend between life stages, the better. Frankly, taking this analogy to its logical extreme, it’s possible that I might simply stay in one stage of the race, floating along the shore in my wetsuit until I turn pruney and get kicked out of the water, because it’s more comfortable than moving on.

But in recent years, with some changes taking me off guard and some carefully planned (or as well-planned as major life transitions can be), I have learned to revel in the transition. Embracing motherhood, breaking new ground in my career, or even taking steps as seemingly small as starting new friendships.

Sometimes, the way was chaotic. You know, like those times you dash through the bikes racks, only to find you’ve overshot your own machine by two rows in the haste and adrenaline rush. Sometimes, I’m on my A game and speed through to the next stage without a hitch.

Being a triathlete has helped me through these times. More than a decade ago, I was interested in checking out this new sport. Drawn to the physical and logistical challenges, I took a chance on this crazy endeavor. And it stuck. I loved it. Now I call myself a triathlete and try to rope anybody in who will listen.

“I’m a freakin’ triathlete,” my inner cheerleader shouts over all the negative noise that tends to amp up in the times of change. If I can manage to jump off a bike force my rubbery legs to keep plodding along, I certainly can keep going through whatever change comes my way.

Another lesson I continue to learn is to leave behind whatever I don’t need from the prior phase. A wetsuit and goggles are really helpful tools for a swim, but you wouldn’t think of taking them onto the bike course. On the other hand, you won’t see anyone ditching their tri suit after the swim. Ouch! (Not to mention the prospect of getting arrested.) In your off-the-course life, what can you lose and what do you need to take with you to the next phase?

Finally, it might be worthwhile to fuel up in transition. Just like taking time for a slug of water and a gulp of Gu might keep you from crashing later on, spending time with your support system and doing the things that energize you will pay off in real life transitions.

What about you? How does your triathlon transition strategy come into play when you face a new challenge in life?


1 thought on “Time in Transition

  1. I find myself shocked to be able to say, “I RAISED FIVE KIDS AND THEY’RE ALL GREAT PEOPLE!” But I threw off my youthful health in the process. I used to be able to run around a city block, almost no sweat. Now, I’d be scared to try for the first corner.
    Thanks for seeing a way to turn athletic training into life lessons, too. And for sharing your insights. <3

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