Why I am not racing Clearwater…

A few weeks ago, I left my house for a 3.5-hour training ride, only to return about 15 minutes later.

My head wasn’t in it. My heart wasn’t in it.

After a few hours (yes, hours) of reflection, I wrote an email to my coach, whose customized workouts I had been following as I trained for the Ironman 70.3 Championship in Clearwater, FL.

Among other things, I told him: I’ve ceased to find the joy in training.

It had nothing to do with him. It had nothing to do with that day’s workout, a 3.5-hour bike ride followed by a 20-minute run. It was that neither my head nor my heart were in training at all anymore.

I tried taking a week off to see if it made any difference. But it didn’t. And even watching Mom train for the very same race, while it inspired me, didn’t reignite the flame inside… the flame I would need in order to put in the hours upon hours of swimming, biking and running that racing Clearwater would require.

While, as an athlete, I am obviously nowhere near the caliber of 3-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington or U.S. Half Marathon record holder Ryan Hall, I can relate to the very tough personal and professional decisions each had to come to recently.

Wellington decided to back out of the 2010 Ironman World Championship this past Saturday, the day of the race, due to flu-like symptoms. Hall withdrew from Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, where he had hoped to capture the U.S. Marathon record, less than two weeks before the race, citing overtraining and fatigue.

They both knew that they would not be at their best.

And again, while they are on totally different levels than I am, I can relate to that feeling.

Personally, I am at my best when I’m having fun. This is true both in life and in the activities I choose. Sometimes you have to deal with life when it isn’t fun, but the beauty in the activities you choose to do is that if you’re not having fun, a lot of times you have the ability to opt out.

When I was training for my first marathon, I had a blast. I truly looked forward to most all of my workouts. And the same goes for my first Half Ironman. Then, immediately after that I did another Half Ironman, followed by another marathon, followed by another marathon, followed by another Half Ironman – not to mention various other shorter races in between – all within a little over a year’s time.

Somewhere along the line, it ceased to be fun. And I reached my breaking point the day I was supposed to do that 3.5-hour ride.

At first, I felt badly about dropping out of Clearwater. I felt guilty. I felt I was letting myself and others down.

But then I remembered this: it’s just a race.

And also this: I am in charge of my own decisions.

I don’t owe it to anyone, not even myself, to race Clearwater. What I do owe myself is the chance to rest, regroup and find my desire again.

To find the joy in training.


I’m looking forward to it.

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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  1. 10.14.10


    An emotional and captivating post and I COMPLETELY understand you 100%. I had a year of 2 1/2 ironmans plus and Ironman, and other races and absolutely loved it….loved all the training, the racing, it was the right time in my life. I WAS A TRI GEEK. I too, lost the fire to do multiple hours or training and instead found joy in long easy runs chit-chatting with friends (no splits, no heart rate) and 2 hour bike rides to get coffee. While I was pregnant, I welcomed reading smut magazines and watching E! news on the elliptical (which I typically find pointless) and soon after my soon was born, the fire burned in my belly to run. Not bike, not swim, just run. And I did….six half-marathons the year after my son was born and i loved the training and racing was fun too, but really loved the “me” time and the extra strength of being a “mom” and racing a PR with a 4 month old! Now I’m preggers again with #2 and in no rush to run, or bike, rather, just enjoy long hikes with friends, maybe some easy swims (non-structured), some lifting, and heck, the occasional elliptical workout with smut TV. I know I enjoy being fit, and feeling fit but sometimes the “time is not right” for the structure, the workouts, the excess of “the triathlon” lifestlye. So I congratulate you for listening to your body and your heart and having the strength to take control and do what YOU want. Soon enough, you’ll belly will burn with a desire to do something again…and you’ll love doing it and as you said, if you love it, you’ll kick butt! Seize the day and thanks for sharing.

  2. 10.14.10
    brian said:

    That was inspiring, at the end of the day, its all up to you!

  3. 10.14.10
    Kim said:

    Jane: although I certainly cannot relate to the type of training you’ve been doing let alone the marathons and the ironman races, I can relate to the feeling of losing the desire for something you once loved to do. For me it was tennis – I lived and breathed it for so long and loved every minute of it. But one day, I stopped enjoying and loving it. Practicing and competitive matches became a chore and I began to make excuses. I then realized, I just had to take a break and I did for a few years. I’m back at it now but it isn’t as frequent and never for competition anymore – only fun. You are correct; you don’t owe continuing this for anyone and following your inner voice and desire will lead you in the right direction – always. Good for you – big Hug!

  4. 10.14.10
    Amanda said:

    You are one of the strongest women I know, so tough, so brave, so honest. Way to listen to your heart! xoxo

  5. 10.14.10
    Meg said:

    Inspiring post, thanks! You showed how strong you truly are by making your deicision, giving it some distance and then sticking with it when you realized that there was no spark! You are so right, it is just a race … happiness and passion are much more important! xoxo!

  6. 10.14.10
    Cheryl said:

    I can relate 100%. After running competitively in high school and college, I also ceased to find joy in training and racing. I felt so burnt out when I was only 21 years old. I took a few years off and then had the desire to run again. I raced a bunch in my mid 20s and then took some time off. I’m pregnant with my 2nd child now and already looking forward to getting back in shape after she is born. I completely agree that you have to listen to your body and heart. Good for you. Keep up the great work with your writing. You are very inspiring!!

  7. 10.14.10
    Karianna said:

    Way to go for listening to your heart! I’ve been so impressed with your athletic talent and dedication, and completely understand why you need a break. You are amazing.

  8. 10.14.10

    I’m so glad you are listening to your heart. It’s done you well in the past, and I have no doubt that now, as well, you’ll be rewarded. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.

  9. 10.15.10
    admin said:

    You are my hero, Janie… for a myriad of reasons… one of which is KNOWING your heart and coming to intelligent, thoughtful decisions. I will miss you on the course… but I am ecstatic to know that you will be cheering me on! I love you, Honey! Mom

  10. 10.15.10

    Jane, I’m so glad that you are stopping to take care of yourself and to find the joy in activity again.

    It’s ironic to read this tonight after holding my crying 9yo who is struggling in ballet. She wants to quit, and I was trying to understand what happened to my little happy dancer. It turns out that the class she’s in is more advanced than she is used to and she isn’t having fun anymore. We’ve agreed to talk to the teacher and maybe drop her back a level to see if it becomes fun again.

    I thank you for posting what I’m sure was a difficult thing to put into words b/c it helped me to empathize with my daughter. And to remember that these activities are supposed to fill us with joy and pride and life, not drain us of those things.

    Best wishes, Christina

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