Taking on triathlon for Lent

Why is it that we always feel that we’re supposed to give something up for Lent?

Does giving up chocolate for 40 days really draw us closer to God, especially when we devour every M&M our children get Easter morning? Is eating no carbohydrates for Lent really “denying ourselves?”

Maybe it is, but I’m not so sure that giving up a guilty pleasure for 40 days represents the true sacrifice to commemorate Jesus’s fasting in the wilderness.

Now, let me say this, I’m not a theologian nor am I any way near being a perfect person that doesn’t need to deny myself. I always need to be seeking ways to be a better person, a better dad, a better friend or a better Christian, whether it means giving up a guilty pleasure to help me, or not. I’m also one who has tried, and failed miserably, at finding something meaningful to give up for Lent, only to find myself going back to my old ways a few days after Ash Wednesday.

The season of Lent is an important time to experience what it’s like to sacrifice something as Jesus did for me, for us. Finding something to give up, or better yet, something to hold me accountable is important to me as I reflect on and appreciate the many blessings in my life.

Instead of giving something up, could I take on something that holds me accountable and helps me achieve the same thing, not just during Lent, but beyond?

I’m going to do just that. This year, instead of saying I’m giving up chocolate or beer, I am going to use my triathlon training as a daily reminder that will help me to reflect on my faith and the blessings I have.

Why not, right?

As you know, I am on a journey to complete a half Ironman triathlon this year and a full Ironman triathlon next year. So, inherently, I will have to give up some things I love, or at least partake less of, so I can accomplish my triathlon goals.

This week, I started my specific training plan for the big race in June.  A six day a week plan is something I’m not used too and it’s something that will be a difficult challenge. It is also something that I’m going to continue beyond Easter.

My training plan for my half Ironman is a sixteen week plan. To give you an idea of what I’m taking on with this training, between now and June 3rd, I will swim over 36 miles, bike over 1,250 miles and run over 325 miles.

Why would any human being want to do that, you may be asking?

Why not, I say.

I began this journey last year to better myself, to get healthy and to get in better physical shape so I can hopefully remain active with my kids and loved ones for many years. The goal of completing the Ironman in 2019 is a tough challenge and something to work towards that requires accountability, commitment and dedication to achieve.

I took on this challenge not really knowing where it would take me. Now, I’m in the best shape of my life, I’ve lost 45 pounds, I love eating healthy, exercising regularly and I’m truly enjoying it more than I ever imagined.

Last May, I didn’t give up anything specifically, I took something on and it changed my life.

This year for Lent, I’m continuing to take on my triathlon training. Each time I get in the pool, ride my bike or run around the lake, I will be reflecting on all the things I am thankful for, the abilities I have as an athlete and all the many blessings I have in my life.

So, this year for Lent, I’m not specifically giving anything up, but I’m going to continue to take on my goals and the challenges I set last year.

What about you?

Along with your Lenten sacrifices, why not tri to take something on this year? Who knows how it may change your life? It sure has mine!