“Is all of this really worth the sacrifice?”

In light of my current struggle with injury, I feel the need to address a question I’ve been asked more than once recently. I’m sure most, if not all, triathletes have come across this same burning question.

“Is all of this really worth the sacrifice?”

In short, yes.

What is the sacrifice? Time? Money? Yes, both of those are being “sacrificed”. Family? Is my family really being sacrificed? I may be gone for an hour or two longer on some days due to training, yes, but is that SACRIFICE?

At what expense do I decide that triathlon is worth the SACRIFICE?

Well, I’ll tell you…

It’s worth it because of me. Call me selfish. Call me entitled. But, I deserve triathlon. And, guess what else? My family deserves it, too.

No, my family is not made of fellow triathletes. So, how do they deserve triathlon? Because they deserve my happiness. They deserve my sanity. They deserve my health.


Let’s talk about that for a moment.

Health. It’s kind of a loose term, right? In a country where a “balanced” meal served to school children includes nothing resembling real food, but rather processed versions, I think we have some work to do to define “health”. We live in a world chock full of willful ignorance. The big food companies rely on this to sell their products. The vast majority DO NOT CARE what is in their food. And, they TRUST that companies would not put harmful things into their food. People don’t want to KNOW where their food comes from. Is THAT worth the sacrifice?

What is health? Of course this definition will vary greatly from one person to the next. One person’s view of health could be simply waking up that day while another would attribute it to being able to run 10 miles. Everyone has a different level of health. Our job? Live up to our own level. What does that mean? Well, it means that ONE DAY, you will not be able to physically do the things you can do today.


One day you won’t be able to take the health you have for granted. One day your lifestyle choices will DEFINE you.

What will YOUR definition be?

I looked in the mirror last October and saw a definition that I did not like. My lifestyle choices had begun to define me. I was 50 pounds overweight. I was tired. I was unhappy with what I had let myself become. This is where ACCOUNTABILITY comes in. Who was going to change me? Me. Only I could do that. And, only you can change you.

So, when someone asks me “Is all of this really worth the sacrifice?”, my answer will always be yes. I’ve sacrificed the unhealthy version of me. I’ve put her to rest. The only thing I’ve sacrificed, the only thing I’ve said goodbye to, is the old me. I’m okay with that.

So when you see a triathlete and you think “oh my gosh, I can’t believe they do all of that” and you want to ask them if it’s worth the sacrifice, don’t. They know it is.

2 thoughts on ““Is all of this really worth the sacrifice?”

  1. Colleen

    i’m selfish too. i need tri/racing. and i’m cool with that. you’re so right: our families deserve the best mommy/wife we can give them… our healthiest and happiest version. and that means triathlon. love this! heal well my friend.


  2. Doug Burton

    Great insight, and I love the poster. It should be a triathlete’s words to live by. Health, you make a great point about not knowing when health will change–I had exercised regularly for over 30 years and not missed work in 24 years when told I should have preventative open heart surgery for a mitral valve last fall. One big surgery, then 3 more to fix a rhythm problem that came from it (switched to the talented team at St. Vincent’s to get the final fix), and I was finally cleared in July to resume “normal” training. Took part in Tri Indy in August just to be there and enjoy the community that is triathlon. But even when challenged with open heart recovery I relied on basic training skills learned in our sport–it was all about gradually increasing effort. i.e. I can tell you what it used to take me to walk 3 complete laps at the Greenwood Mall (59:26) and what it took me a little over one month later (49:40). Same for 10 laps at Walmart, total laps in the pool comfortably, and regular five minute increases on the bike trainer. In the spring I was 5:00/mile slower than I was last fall, I’m now about :45/mile off. Looking forward to being 60 in tri years next season. Our sport has a spot for everyone–those seeking health, those who like to go fast but short (sprints), and those who are into endurance challenges–something to fit every lifestyle and time budget. Some day maybe my running will be replaced by walking, but as your sign says, today is not that day!! Good luck with your training and health. Doug B.


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