What does success look like for me in the triathlon journey?
A tricky question. In triathlon, success cannot be pinpointed to one thing. It’s a sport with three disciplines, countless variables, and a path that never truly ends. Answering this question becomes challenging. While measurable aspects such as time, pace, speed, and power play a role (“Was I faster than last time?”), success in triathlon encompasses much more. To me, it’s a combination of setting objectives, working towards them, executing plans, adapting when necessary, pushing physical and mental limits, maintaining consistency and discipline, managing expectations, and above all, enjoying the entire journey.
Success cannot solely rely on race results; it extends to the process. Triathlon is about constant improvement: becoming faster, more efficient, enduring longer, and embracing discomfort. These goals require time, consistency, patience, discipline, good health, and the willingness to endure pain. These are the aspects I work towards and consider as my personal success. Valuing the process and the daily wins is just as important as the results. I cherish the everyday work, the incremental progress, and the opportunity to train, driven by the love I have for the sport.
Speaking of success necessitates discussing expectations. For me, it’s a significant word. I set challenging targets for training sessions and races, which motivates me to push beyond my limits. However, in my relatively short triathlon experience, I’ve learned that unmet expectations do not equate to failure. It signifies that factors, within or beyond my control, did not align with my plans (triathlon has numerous uncontrollable variables!). When expectations fall short, I evaluate what went wrong and strive to improve next time. A guiding principle I follow in sports and life is: “Either you win or you learn.” I don’t see failure; I see an opportunity to learn and grow. This mindset shift fosters personal development and progress, although I continue to work on being flexible with my expectations—a work in progress that is crucial for the long term.
After completing the full IM in Portugal, my plan was to “recycle” the training and participate in the Abu Dhabi Marathon in December. However, fate had other plans. I developed severe tendonitis in my foot, rendering me unable to run for over two months. Instead of the marathon, I spent five months in physiotherapy, focusing on my recovery. Though it was disappointing, my priorities shifted, and I had to adapt my plan accordingly.
Ultimately, triathlon is a journey for me—a constant pursuit of improvement. I relish the training, the challenges that push my physical and mental limits, the highs and lows, the gratitude for the opportunity to pursue what I love, the blessing of good health, and the support of a nurturing community. Success in triathlon lies in appreciating the process that leads to the starting line—a celebration of months of dedicated training, the “how” behind the “what,” the elation of crossing the finish line on a triumphant day. The entirety of the journey embodies what I believe success truly looks like.
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By Daniela Rodriguez