Have you ever fallen out of love with something you once loved with a passion?
This was a question I chatted about my friend as we had a little walk round the park. She has been studying for a PHD for many years has taken a break from it to focus on other things for a while and was struggling to find the motivation to get back to it. She was wondering if she still really wanted to do it and if she would ever rediscover the passion that had initially started it.
This really resonated with me and is something I’ve been through with triathlon and racing many times. I fell out of love with Ironman and said I would never do another one. How many times have you said or heard that? But I definitely needed a break and then I didn’t race at all for at least 5 years. And I wondered if I would ever want to again?
The first thing is to check in with your motivation. What were your reasons for doing that thing in the beginning? Why did you want it and what motivated you? Are those things still true?
For me and triathlon I knew those things were still true I just wasn’t ready to get back to racing yet due to time, work, injury, confidence and fitness. So instead of completely giving up and selling all my kit I had faith in my motivation and slowly waited until the fire was re-ignited.
I took a break from Ironman in 2020 which I definitely needed and it coincided nicely with the lack of a race season anyway. Not training for an Ironman gave me time to enjoy other things especially socialising with friends and sleeping in! A lot of the time in 2020 I’ve wondered if I’d ever want to train for an Ironman again and how I’d find the motivation to get up before 7am!
In the beginning one of the reasons that really motivated me to train was because I needed to get outside and have a mini sense of adventure after a day sitting in the office in concrete Coventry. But then my job changed and spent all day working outside in outdoor education so the last thing I wanted to do was to go outside and ride my bike. So then I had to figure out what were the other things that motivated me to train and keep fit other than being outdoors.
Not racing also gave me the chance to try out a lot of other things that I wouldn’t normally be able to fit in if I was training for an Ironman. I did lots of things that didn’t have performance outcomes and were just for the fun and the hell of it. As they were often new my expectations of myself were a lot less than if I was racing a triathlon.
I did some mountain biking, I swam the channel in a relay, I did a big cycling holiday in the Alpes, I cycled Lands End to John O’Groats and I lifted weights in the gym, I cycled 150miles coast to coast in a day just to mention a few.
And slowly my fire was re-ignited and I fell back in love with Ironman!
Of course you may decide that you’re no longer the same person and your motivation has changed so you no longer need that thing that you once loved. And that’s OK too! Realising that and having the courage to stop doing something is just as hard as doing the thing you’ve always done.