When an investment, of any kind is made, it’s important to figure out if that investment is worth the return. This is something usually thought of in dollars and cents, but lately I have been thinking of ROI in many other ways. Triathlon, like any sport or hobby, can be expensive but as I gain more experience I start to realize that if I consider the return it really helps in my decision making. I look back and I made mistakes, but as always I am trying to learn from them.
When I first started running, I already had most of the important stuff from my days of Muay Thai and BJJ. I had sports bras, tank tops, rash guards and shorts or capris. The one thing I really didn’t have, was a good pair of running shoes. The sneakers I had weren’t exactly cutting it, but at the same time I didn’t want to pay $100+ for shoes. I also didn’t really want to go into a running store and be hounded by some sales person. Now that I think about it, it was probably more the sales person than the money. I never like dealing with sales people. What did I do? I researched, of course! I spent probably hours online reading about running shoes, what’s good for what kind of foot, etc. At the end of the day, I realized that I can pay $60 for a pair of shoes that won’t make it long, or I could pay $100-ish for a pair that would get me 400 or more miles with proper form and comfort. No brainer there. The return on investment was sound. The trouble was I still had to face the sales person issue. Even if it was uncomfortable, the return on that would maybe be the experience or learning something new. I went to Runners Depot and to my surprise, the people there were very helpful and not at all pushy. It was a great experience, and now we run with them and their group almost weekly. Not to mention, if you buy shoes there and run in them but they don’t work well, you can swap them for something else within 30 days or something like that. I have done so already and it was a great experience.
When it came to cycling clothes, I messed up. I shopped around and found that most really good cycling apparel is really expensive! I still can’t find much information on how long they should really last, so I had a hard time wrapping my mind around paying $100 for cycling shorts. I mean, I don’t think I have paid that for one piece of clothing other than a dress for a wedding. Could they really do so much for my butt that I need to pay that? Took me a while and some research to figure out why you don’t just get a big old padded seat for the bike, but that is a story for another time. Anyway, I ended up finding a pair that were on sale for $50 but that was still a little much for me. Sports Authority was going out of business, so I checked there and found some for like $20. SOLD! Sure, I could tell the fabric was a little different and the cushion thing wasn’t as soft as the fancy bike shop ones, but who cares, right? My butt cared. The shorts didn’t do very well on the ride, and they certainly didn’t do well after the wash. I followed the instructions to the letter but they still were wonky after the first wash. Not to mention the bands seemed to shrink and cut into my legs after that. I tried another cheaper pair, which didn’t work out either. Long story short, I ended up getting the $50 dollar quality ones that were on sale. So, I spent somewhere around $90 on one good pair and two useless pairs, when I could have just bit the bullet and spent $50 to start with. Lesson learned? No.
When it was time for my first triathlon, I started researching tri-suits. My go to is Amazon, so if it wasn’t available there, I wasn’t getting one. I ended up finding one that was pretty good quality, not what I really wanted but again, I could not justify the $200 price tags. The suit worked out pretty well for my first race, especially for the bargain I got, but on the second one, I was not thrilled. I could tell it was not going to hold up as well as I had hoped. I waited for the season to end, knowing that the suits would be on clearance. Sure enough, I was able to order a very nice suit that was typically $250 for only $80. Even better, I had some issues with their customer service when I tried to process an exchange and ended up getting it for free! All it cost me in the end was a little time! Great return there!
Speaking of time, I have been really making sure I get the return on time spent on things. When I train, the return on the time and effort is immediate. My happiness levels are way up, I feel great, and my day generally goes much better when I start the morning with a workout. Other than some cuddle time with the boys, training is probably where I get the biggest return on my investment of time. I have started to eliminate things that don’t give me as much of a return. I don’t really watch much television anymore, and I don’t miss it. Once in a while, we will sit and watch a show as a family and just un plug, but that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong, when Game of Thrones comes back on, I will invest that hour each week and enjoy it. Otherwise, if I am stir crazy or need to unplug, I will read or go for a walk. Something other than just plugging my brain into an electronic device. This is something I am really trying to help D2 with too. I’d much rather him go out and have a Nerf gun battle than get on the iPad. I’ve cut back on Facebook and Instagram, though I do like to post. I think it helps me be accountable to myself. I have filtered whose posts I see so that I get inspiration rather than the woes and recipes for all too tempting desserts. Time spent with the family gets some of the best return, but I am also trying to work on the quality of that time. Yes, we can sit and watch a show together once in a while, but I would much rather go for a walk or sit at the table and talk about our day rather than stare at an electronic device. Nerf wars, bike rides and Legos have a much better return than video games and television.
I have some work to do when it comes to making sure I get the bang for the buck on gear sometimes, but I’m happy to say that while I could probably do even better, I am pretty happy with where I am with regards to investments on time. At one point, I even questioned the time spent on this blog. I want to post weekly, but with my midterm this week, I struggled to find the time. Then I thought about what it brings me, and hopefully one day brings my son. I enjoy going back and reading over how I felt during training or races. I go back and learn from my own experiences all over again. It’s a way for me to share my experiences not only with myself, but with others. That is time well spent for me, and hopefully time well spent for those that care to read it. Time is limited, so I challenge anyone reading this to take a moment and think about how you will spend your time today. Are you getting good return on that investment?