My first triathlon, nearly 20 years ago, was in a small town two hours west of Chicago, Illinois, with beautiful rolling hills and a gentle lake swim. I went into the training with a competitive sport background, though my experience in each sport-specific leg of triathlon was limited. I was a “newby” from a coaching perspective.
By Cari Junge
The field back then was maybe 20% females. I sported my old Trek mountain bike, a cheap pair of spandex shorts and a huge smile (not at all concerned about wasting energy from grinning). I went in with little expectation and finished feeling like a winner (though far from it, as I was trailed by the race officials’ motorcycles closing the bike course behind me!). Since that first race, I TRIed and TRIed and TRIed. Hundreds of races and 8 ironman races later, I still remember the fine details of that fabulous day.
To many, race day success is defined by finishing stats: time, splits, place. To the first time triathlete, let your success be defined by you. Perhaps reaching the start line healthy is your win for the day or making great fitness gains to get there. Or if fear of the water has crippled you, kissing the beach at the swim finish will be like receiving a gold medal at the Olympics. For many, you should know it’s not a given in this sport to cross the finish line given the range of variables you could face beyond your control such as inclement weather, course conditions, equipment issues.
To the “newby”, five tips to feel success and want to try TRI again…and again…and again:
• Celebrate small wins as you train!
• It’s not about the gear – so it’s ok if your bike shoes have laces and you don’t match!
• Practice your weakest sport when you feel your best and cheer yourself on every stroke, spin and stride!
• There’s no win in comparison, so don’t let the competition distract you. Better yet, don’t use the word competition!
• Look at the range of shapes and sizes, ages and fitness levels or your fellow triathletes. The sport of triathlon, like no other, is for the masses to enjoy together!
Cari Junge is a USATriathlon Level II Coach and has worked with hundreds of endurance athletes across two decades in sports performance, nutrition, therapy and functional medicine. She is the Program Manager and Integrative Health Advisor for Namaste Center For Healing, where she offers a broad range of coaching services. To contact Cari Junge, please email [email protected].