Extra Life Triathlon Fitness

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Next Steps - A Christmas and New Years Message

Christmas in Salt Lake City. A winter wonderland

As I mentioned in a previous post, I always love this time of year. The lights, the crisp air, the generally more pleasant attitude coming from everyone (while there may be some exceptions of course). The culmination of the holiday season, Christmas Day, is not necessarily my favorite day of the season. More so is the lead up to Christmas, when goodwill is at the forefront of our minds, and we are more frequently aware of the grace we are offered by God. At least this is true for me, especially in more recent years. Giving gifts is great, but it's the empowerment of the soul and the rejuvenation of the spirit which make this holiday special. As the Grinch himself expressed:

"'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!'"

We've all heard pontifications on "the True Meaning of Christmas", so I won't wax on. However, I will say that it is fitting that Christmas falls at the very end of the calendar year. If we choose it to be, we can make it a celebration for the blessings we have received over the course of the year. A chance to reflect on what we have achieved, and prepare our positive attitudes for blessings to come in the next year, beginning a week later.

I, myself have been profoundly blessed. Blessed to have a wonderful family, blessed to have another year of sobriety, blessed to be healthy, blessed to be motivated to perform at my absolute best, and blessed to have been given the opportunity to set an example for others, including my family.

Early in 2013 I was struck with an insane, uncharacteristic, and seemingly impossible idea. With my arm in a sling, and a gut hanging over my sweat pants, I somehow had the motivation to do an Ironman triathlon. Somewhat of a "New Year's Resolution". I had never swam any significant distance, didn't own a bike, let alone know how to ride a road bike, and the chronic abuse of my lungs and liver made the idea of participating in any endurance sport a laughable proposition. However, the idea struck me with such force that I had no doubt that I would achieve it, and I went about planning for success.

A few months ago I wrote an article in for MindBodyGreen called Stop Abandoning Your Goals! In it I advised people to set smaller, more easily achievable goals as milestones to the greater goal. That would make the greater goal more easily achievable. This was part of my "success plan", to create incremental goals leading to the bigger one. I signed up for Ironman Los Cabos set to take place on March 30, 2014, and then signed up for a number of shorter triathlons leading up to that date. Sure enough, eating a healthy diet and following a strict training plan, I was able to complete two sprint triathlons during the summer, where I was able to gain confidence in open water swimming, and get a feel for the race. Then I finished an Olympic distance triathlon, to get used to racing for multiple hours. Finally, a couple weeks ago, I completed a half Ironman. A far cry from the injured and unhealthy person dreaming at the beginning of the year.

So now after completing those distances, while still a significant challenge, the actual Ironman triathlon does not seem as formidable. It is just the next step. And with three months to go before the race, it's the final stretch of training, so it's getting real.

I know that was a long way from the original message of this post, but it brings us around from reflecting on the past year to how we can look forward to the next. I will no longer look forward to unfulfilled dreams and empty promises. I will continue to dream big and create a road map for achievement.

So this year, as you consider your New Year's resolutions, consider this. Dream big this year. Despite what you tell yourself, you can achieve it. To get there, just take the next step. Set smaller goals to propel you forward. Finally, have a very Merry Christmas, reminiscing on the blessings of the previous year. And may God grace you with a prosperous and dream-fulfilling New Year!