Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 1 - Why Would You Do That?
Julie is one of two athletes we will be featuring as they train for their Ironman events. Julie is just beginning her five months of training for Ironman Canada.
Schedule of Endurance Sports Athlete Journals:
Tuesdays - Julie Warren
Saturdays - Andrew Read
“Hello. My name is Julie, and I am addicted to endurance events.” In all actuality, this is how I should be introducing myself. It’s true; I’ve paid large sums of money to run completely insane distances. I’ve learned to swim, solely for the satisfaction of earning the 140.6 sticker on my car. I even ran up Pikes Peak to earn a jacket that’s worth all of seven dollars, but has “FINISHER” embroidered on the back and is, therefore, worth it.
“Why would you do that?” Every endurance athlete has heard this at some point in time from concerned loved ones, doctors, and psychologists. To be honest, it’s a fair question. There is nothing “normal” about propelling yourself for long distances really. Interestingly though, endurance sports have caught on like wildfire in recent years. Think it’s crazy to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and then run 26.2 miles? Try telling that to the 2,500 triathletes who sold-out the inaugural New York City Ironman Triathlon this past fall in eleven minutes to the tune of $895 per person. This transcends crazy. This is extreme passion.
So how does one become so passionate about something so seemingly arduous? Just as every athlete is unique so are his or her motivations. I can only share with you my experiences, but I would be willing to guess many of you out there can relate.
Let’s just go ahead and throw it out there - I am competitive. As much as I hate to admit it, everything is a competition in my mind. For instance, I downloaded a simple app to my iPhone to monitor my sleep efficiency, and suddenly I’m trying to out-do my own sleep efficiency night after night. This is exactly how I view my endurance endeavors. I’m not competing with the thousands of other athletes out there nearly as much as I’m competing with the athlete between my ears. When I can block out the burning in my legs, the searing in my lungs, and the negative voices in my head and knock out a new personal record, I’ve not just won a physical battle, I’ve knocked down a huge mental barrier. These mental barriers aren’t just related to your physical endeavors, they affect every part of your life. The day after I completed my first marathon, even though I could barely walk, I was beaming with pride, holding my head a little higher, and overall more confident in all aspects of life. If I could run a marathon, what else could I do?
It’s not just the competitive nature of the game that keeps me moving. Genetically speaking, I wasn’t dealt the best hand. Heart disease and diabetes run rampant on both sides of my family and to be honest, it scared me off the couch and into the coolest running shoes I could find at my local running store. What I didn’t anticipate was that running was good for my mental and emotional health as well. Bad day at the office? Nothing a quick run can’t fix! Boyfriend bought me a small kitchen appliance for my birthday? Nothing a quick run can’t fix! Soon, I was compelled to eat better because I felt better, I was happier, my jeans fit better, and I felt healthier overall.
The great thing about endurance sports is you can make them as social or solitary as you like. When I first started running, I lived in Colorado and became obsessed with trail running. To this day, it is my absolute favorite form of exercise. I almost always ran solo and loved every minute of it. I’d heard of running groups, but I shied away from them, mostly out of fear I’d be exposed as not a “real” runner - whatever that means. It wasn’t until I joined a team to do my first Ironman triathlon that I realized how much fun training with a group could be. It’s like a support group, but with energy gels and recovery drinks!
So as you can see, my passion as an endurance athlete doesn’t necessarily come from the distance itself or the prospect of being the best in the world. In fact, I may never be a podium finisher and I’m perfectly okay with that. Endurance sports give me an avenue to challenge myself, see positive physical and mental changes, and meet like-minded friends who encourage me to do things I never knew I could do. Because of endurance sports I’m continually a better version of myself, and I think that’s ultimately why we “crazy” people get “hooked” on endurance sports.