When Quitting IS an Option… But Giving Up On Life ISN’T

A few weeks ago I raced Ironman Boulder 70.3… A half Ironman distance triathlon race. 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles cycling and a 13.1 mile run = 70.3 miles in one race.

I knew what I was in for… a really long tough day, but I was determined to take it on. Mentally I was prepared as well. I’ve had my share of tough races and have even completed a full distance Ironman race in Louisville.. 140.6 miles. So I knew coming into this race would be more about what I could mentally handle instead of what my body could handle.

As the race started I was feeling pretty good. The swim felt comfortable and the bike felt great until around mile 40. This was where the day started going south quickly. GI (stomach) issues and a strong head wind that last 10 miles of the bike was a double whammy.

As I got off my bike and transitioned into my running shoes, I typically run out of the transition area. But not this time… something wasn’t right and I could feel it. I walked out of transition and saw my wife, Krissy. She looked at me and asked if I was alright… all I said was “I’m tired. See you in a few hours.”

I usually run out of the transition area smiling and yelling “Yeah this is fun!!!”.

Not so much this time.

Once I saw Krissy, I grabbed something to drink, walked a few more yards and tried to run. My stomach felt heavy and my legs felt weak. I could feel something on the back of my right leg tightening up so I walked some more. Every time I tried to run, I would go a little bit and then walk. I felt as though I just couldn’t get my legs working like they usually do. My races this past summer have been great on the run. I jump off the bike and start running with no problems. This time was different.

With the heat pounding down and everything thing on my inside feeling unsettled, I decided to call it quits at mile 7 of the run. After 25 triathlons, I figured there is a first for everything and this would be my first DNF (Did Not Finish).

I learned a lot on this day and was reminded of a lot.

Even though I was prepared mentally and am such an advocate of not quitting when your mind says please stop now, it was my body giving out this time… not my mind.

Here are a few things that went through my head.

Quitting doesn’t have to be a negative word, if done well and for the right reasons, it can have very positive outcomes.

Quitting is an option when you have given it your best and exhausted every option and still come up short with where you want to be. It’s better to be able to say “I will live to race another day” than to risk injury to yourself or do something that will have serious consequences in the end.

There are situations in life where it’s time to shut things down, take a break and re-evaluate what just happened and figure out a way to do it better next time. Either way… it’s ok quit.

But it’s not ok to give up.

I thought you just said it’s ok to quit.

I did… But giving up is a whole other matter.

You see, if I gave up triathlon all together because of one bad race, that wouldn’t be right.

Or let’s put it another way.

If I quit a relationship because of a disagreement or misunderstanding… that wouldn’t be right either. There are going to be disagreements in relationships. They cause us to re-evaluate our position, take a look how to approach or do things better and keep going.

But not giving up on life. Life will serve up situations that give us the chance “to do better next time.”

I think giving up on life is too easy for some. It’s a lazy way out of solving bigger problems that prevent us for living life fully alive and in the end actually makes life harder. Harder on relationships, harder in the work place, harder to get out of bed in the morning, harder to face life.

For those of us who have gone through divorce or a difficult break up. Most times every option to save the relationship has been exhausted and somewhere in the process the decision was made to “quit”.

BUT.

People who go through divorce or a very difficult break up have the opportunity to step back, re-evaluate what happened and where things went wrong and decide at some point to get back into another relationship. (of course, some people don’t want to be another relationship and that’s fine). The point being.

We don’t give up on life just because we quit something somewhere along the way. We put ourselves in a position to learn, grow and keep going no matter what happens.

I think it’s how we are made to cope with life.

So just keep this in mind when you are at a crossroads of should I quit what I’m doing or keep going…

Weigh the pros and cons of your situation.

Is this a crossroads that has the potential to injury me physically or cost me my life or someone elses?

What can I learn from this decision to do it better next time… or is it something I don’t need to do again?

Who am I hurting in the process and why?

Who benefits from this besides me and why?

How can I get through this hurdle and not give up on life?

If quitting something in your life means you could be in a more safe and healthy place, what does it do for your outlook on not giving up on life?