What I learned from completing my 2nd Triathlon… by Dr. Mel

Dr. Mel after completing her 2nd Tri!

Dr. Mel after completing her 2nd Tri!

Within the last year, I’ve started getting into Triathlons. Being a team-sport, power athlete growing up, this was something totally new to me. 

Yet, I’ve always been highly intrinsically motivated, so I figured why the heck not? Let’s do this.

A Triathlon consists of 3 separate events or legs, including swimming, biking, and running in that order. The type of triathlon will determine the length of each event. If you’re familiar with the Ironman (the longest distance Triathlon you can complete), then you know this type of “sport” can get pretty serious. I recently discovered that the fastest Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run) was completed in under 8 hours (7 hours and 44 minutes to be exact) by Canadian Lionel Sanders. You can read about his journey here - https://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2016/11/lionel-sanders-record-time.aspx

What pushed Lionel through was something we all desire and need when it comes to not only human performance, but health and healing in general.

Support. 

No, I’m not talking arch support. I’m talking support from our tribe, our community, our loved ones. Within the last mile and a half of the run, there was a moment where I feel a desire for support. I was tired and somewhat anxious about the hills I saw in front of me. 

But I didn’t stop. The cheers from random strangers, kids sitting in their driveways waving, elderly couples ringing their bells and cheering us on kept me going. All this support coming from people I didn’t even know. I smiled, felt this burst of energy, sprinted up the hill, and finished the 5K run portion strong in under 30 minutes.

What a feeling it is to just receive support in times of stress, hard work, suffering, trauma, and turmoil. You see, when we discover that we are not alone, a sense of safety, relatedness, and connection is created within the nerve system. Research is now finding that living in isolation is almost more detrimental to our mental/emotional well-being compared to other daily life stressors.

The truth is, we all have a burning desire to be connected to one another. It’s in our blood, our DNA, and our physiology. We as human beings were not meant to grow up in isolation. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be extroverted to receive the benefits. It means being vulnerable, asking for support, and realizing that suffering and pain is part of the human experience. Connection is about trust, authenticity, and sharing about how life really is in this moment. 

Within the triathlon race, there were moments I felt alone, especially in the water. But as soon as I looked up and into the eyes of the people around me, I knew we were all in this together.

My invitation for you is to become aware of where you are feeling isolated and alone in life. Start to develop a support team around you. This can include friends, family, spiritual relationships, your practitioners, or even your triathlon buddies. Be mindful when things are feeling “stuck.” Perhaps it just means you need to reach out to that one friend you know you can trust and share what’s happening in your life. On the other side, become that person for someone else. I’m not suggesting you need to be the receiver (or giver) of what I call “drama-dumping,” but rather, just be an ear to listen. And, if necessary, ask that person what would feel most supportive for them at this time. Are they looking for advice? Support? Professional help? This type of deeper listening does take practice. So, I encoucrage you to practice being and receiving support and see how your life transforms.


Yours in support,

Dr. Mel