Triathlon draws you in! You arrive at this place to compete in your first tri for various reasons: invited by a friend – you know the one who is a bit more sporty than you; a way to get in shape because the gym/treadmill/P90X couldn’t hold your interest. For me it was that ”something” in the air while watching friends in a triathlon. I could feel the energy in the participants in the swim chute, excitement as they passed through transition, and it was sensory overload at the finish watching their faces – that sense of achievement. I wanted to look & feel like all those people. I wanted that so bad!
Pumped and ready to go with my cotton shirt, mountain bike, tennies and extra 10lbs I went to my first group training session. Reality hit and closely followed self-doubt, fear that my training gear and equipment was inadequate and seeing ‘others’ in the group with ‘experience’.
Friends and future triathletes DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU!
First – consider equipment. Everyone, and I mean everyone, started with the bike they had. Does it have gears? Does it have pedals? Yes- then you are good to go. Think of it as a starter kit or your first apartment location– you have to try it out – try it on as it were. What if you really do one and done? Save your hard earned cash for that next bike if you get the bug (and you probably will) or for your next adventure. At all beginner triathlons you will see commuter bikes, mountain bikes and even some items from the Stone Age. And what about those clip in “pro looking’ pedals and shoes? No big deal – your tennies and pedals will go round just the same. It’s all about what is best for you and your comfort level in your first triathlon.
Second – hanging at the end of the pool every 25m? The track 400m look unending? Does that hill that everyone else seems to climb seem insurmountable? Can’t change a tire? All the “what if’s” creep in during Week 1 . During this time – for some reason – you’re transported to future Race Day: what if I can’t finish the swim, what if I get a flat, what if I can’t run the distance? You took this on as challenge right? Then defeat the challenge! Attending training sessions, following a training schedule and practice will get you there. Do you feel alone in your abilities when the ‘others’ seem to be doing just fine? Trust me – everyone is frustrated at some perceived weakness in their abilities we’re just too shy to discuss it. The great thing about being human is we are all unique – you can’t compare yourself to anyone else. Triathlon is an individual sport at the heart. Keep a log – so many free apps exist to track your distances; there are inexpensive gadgets – and you probably have a fit-bit or similar. Keep a log and you will be A-MAZED at how far you’ve come every single week. Treat yourself at certain milestones – maybe to a new tech shirt, a comfy pair of tri shorts, anti-fog goggles. Being able to review your training log and look back is the only way you will always know how far you have come. Before you know it you are building your tri kit AND you are evolving into that triathlete you know you can be.
Finally – the ‘others’ in your group are just like you with similar fears. Get to know your teammates – understand their fears – share yours on the rides or on the run. Stick with it you’ll be talking and pedaling/running in no time. You will be surprised what you learn about each other and how great they think you’re doing!
The key my friends is trust the training and get to know your teammates. The beginner programs are designed for YOU and account for such fears and all your “what-ifs”. Know you are not alone and the “others” are feeling similar fears and concerns. Know that your coaches and the experienced ‘others” have swam, ridden and walked this same path. The great thing about the tri community is we welcome and treat everyone equally – we all know it’s an endurance sport that physically and mentally challenges us and have nothing but support and respect for anyone who tries to Tri.