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10 Milestones for Beginning Triathletes

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Getting into triathlon can feel overwhelming — you have to learn three sports, figure out what to eat, and manage tons of gear, all while figuring how you’ll find the time to train for an actual race. As seasoned triathletes can tell you, these first experiences in triathlon DO get better, and what seems like "frazzle" today, will be fun tomorrow. Like anything new, you only get to enjoy your first time once! Here are 10 moments to stop and savor as you begin your adventures in triathlon.

1. Your bravery

You know the butterflies you felt in your stomach when you said, "I’m going to do this?" That’s the feeling of stepping up to a new challenge and being willing to embrace all that comes with it. Maybe it happened the moment you confirmed your registration to an upcoming race, or maybe it was the instant you clicked "print" on a training plan. Taking that first step into the unknown is a sacred moment that validates your bravery and commitment to exploring your potential.

2. The first workout

You’ve run a few miles here and there for exercise, taken a spin class, and put in a few laps at the pool — but there’s something special about doing those things as part of a "plan." Think of it like the first connecting pieces of a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. You have an idea what the big picture will look like, and a starting point to work from. Every workout from here on out puts you that much closer to reaching a new goal.

3. Your "training" status

Before triathlon, a run was a run, and time in the gym was about burning calories and blowing off steam. With a race on the calendar, sweating takes on a new meaning. When asked about your activity, you’ll proudly talk about "training" as you enjoy the feeling of having an elevated purpose beyond simply going through the motions of another workout.

4. Understanding the lingo

There’s something magical the day you hear yourself conversing about triathlon and realize you actually know what you’re talking about. Using the term "brick" in a sentence creates a certain affinity between you and other triathletes, and confirms that you’re becoming part of the tribe. 

5. Your first pieces of gear

At some point, every new triathlete will make the decision to purchase something "new" as they progress in the sport. It could be as simple as a pair of goggles, or as complex as a new bike. Whatever it is, the transaction symbolizes an investment in your triathlon journey. Take a moment to celebrate your continued commitment to the sport!

6. The moment you’re the expert

Passion is infectious, and over time your energy and enthusiasm for triathlon will rub off on someone else. Curiosity will encourage others to ask you about your training, and may even put you in the role of "triathlon ambassador." Revel in the moment as your opinion is sought to help new people discover triathlon.

7. Pre-race jitters

Truth be told, pre-race jitters aren’t restricted to your first race alone (they plague amateur and professional triathletes alike!) but the first-triathlon jitters are a special blend of adrenaline, fear, anticipation and drive that will propel you into the unknown, and give you a powerful momentum to the finish line. Enjoy the ride!

8. Your first triathlon friend

Maybe you’ll meet her during the race in a moment of doubt when she says just the right thing to make you keep going. She might be in the transition area, struggling to tie her shoes after the swim. You may have a conversation, or you may share a glance and a smile — a silent understanding of the goal you’ve embarked on and the will to succeed. It will be your first taste of team spirit, and a reminder of the wonderful people you have yet to meet in multisport.

9. Your first war story

As all triathletes know, race day is seldom perfect. There will be unexpected challenges, unforeseen obstacles, and moments of doubt that swallow you whole — but you will get through them. Sharing these stories of triumph is part of what makes the sport so much fun. Your war story is your badge of honor. Keep it with you always.

10.10. Your first finish line

While you’re a triathlete long before you ever cross your first finish line, there are few moments that can validate that as well as having an official time listed next to your name. It represents your ability to unlock potential, and explore your options in tri and beyond.