Are Shortcuts Worth It?

We’re a month out from our first half-Ironman and I have no choice but to get in some workouts before my 12 hour shifts at the hospital these days. I’m on my feet for the entire 12+ hours that I work and so in the past, I’ve used my work days as a “rest day”– despite the fact that my legs don’t really get to rest.

This morning, I went on a run before work and I noticed a few man-made short cuts. I’ve taken them before and haven’t thought much about it– even when Davey shakes his head tells me, “there are no shortcuts in life”.

Corny cliche or not, I started thinking about shortcuts as I ran on the dirt path that cut maybe 2 seconds off my run.

Are Shortcuts In Triathlon Training Worth It? |

I wasn’t the only one who had taken this path. It was worn down and obviously quite commonly used by other runners, walkers and parents pushing strollers. But why? Why do we create a shortcut to save ourselves from taking 4 extra steps? Is it worth it?

I guess taking a short cut makes my triathlon workout seem easier in the moment. But I’ll tell ya what, it sure doesn’t help me on race day. During the last mile of the run, when my legs are tired and I want to stop and walk, I always, ALWAYS wish I challenged myself more in my training.

When I indulge and “give myself a break”, I am not practicing my mental toughness or pushing myself to become a better triathlete. I’m shortchanging myself and essentially making race day harder.

A shortcut like this (^^see above photo^^) may not seem like a big deal, but over time, it adds up. I want to reinforce the voice in my head that tells me “you can do it!” instead of the one that encourages me to “take a break”. I want to listen to the one that challenges me to run 1 more mile or to do a few more squats or to swim for 5 more minutes– because just like the shortcuts, those little extra pushes also add up.

Are Shortcuts In Triathlon Training Worth It? |

I file the times when I push myself into my “triathlon training triumph memory folder” so that on race day, when I feel like quitting, I have some strength to draw on. When the going gets tough– and it always does– I open my folder and see evidence that I am strong and I have what it takes. I tell myself, “Don’t stop now… remember that one time in training when you wanted to quit but you kept going instead? You can do this!”

So the next time I see a shortcut tempting me to take it easy, I’m going to punch that thought in the face, take the long way and show that shortcut who’s boss. Who’s with me?