1. Knowing that anything I feared was less important than my goal. For instance, taking that swim class if you don’t swim well is more important than being embarrassed about meeting strangers for the first time in a swim suit!
2. Running with the dogs. Not having my own, I “borrowed” some from a local shelter as a volunteer dog runner. When in doubt, spend time with a dog. It is guaranteed to lift your spirits (and the dog’s) and give you a good reason to keep going if you feel discouraged!
3. Oh, the glory of the internet! It’s full of training plans, videos, articles and advice for newbies on all things awkward from swim caps, chain rings, and chafing, to training plans, equipment, and to how to bike safely on the road!
4. Training with the locals. Nothing helps to iron out your fears and answer questions better than working with people who have been there. Through my gym I was able to find and train with a local tri group in the course lake and it made all the difference! Along with that, choosing a race with a local/familiar course allows more confidence.
5. “Rest week” (or a light recovery week during training) and listening to the body! Fuel and rest helps the body continue to get strong without wearing down. I think it also helps you refocus on your goals without becoming bogged down.
6. Support of family and friends. Because even if they think you’re crazy for doing it, they’ll still be there celebrating with you at the finish!
7. Tri-Specific Swim lessons. Even if you don’t think you need them to swim faster or better, you might meet others who might offer advice on a triathlon or even their own equipment to use!
8. A great bike store where you can go to ask questions. I went to 3 different shops to talk to experts along with reading up on bike brands in order to make my final decision on purchasing a new bike vs fixing up my old bike. All 3 of the bike stores I went to had friendly staff who answered any questions I had and made the decision much easier.
9. Bargain, internet, and second-hand. For whatever you need that you don’t feel you need brand new as a first-timer.
10. Sense of humor about self and being realistic about goals. For instance, it might feel like the end of the world when you realize you haven’t made time to shave your legs before swim class. But that just means you need to get some dry shave cream and keep that junk in your car!
In summary, it was a great experience. What was once something I vaguely hoped I would accomplish, and finish in my life turned into placing 2nd in my age group. As my spinning instructor put it, I have been “bitten by the triathlon bug” and now plan to do some more of them in the future. I hope my list will inspire more people to try their first triathlon.
Read the story Running with the Dogs by Margaret Smith