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I admit that before getting into triathlons I imagined these folks to be hardcore, high-strung, overbearing, egotistical types. Wow, was I wrong about that!
Most of the triathletes I know are the exact opposite. Sure, there are a few jerks in every crowd but I found most of them to be humble and considerate people who are happy to help along newcomers to the sport.
I learned an important life lesson some years ago: don’t judge people, because there is always more you don’t know about someone than what you do know.
Every triathlete has a story — how they got into it, their motivation for competing, the challenges they have had to overcome to get there, what drives them, and the experiences (sometimes very painful ones) that have shaped who they are.
I feel overwhelming gratitude for the people I have met and the new friends I have made along the way of training and competing in triathlons. These people have greatly impacted my life.
Meeting New People
Here are a few pointers as you become a new face in the community of people who do triathlons:
#1 Don’t be afraid to ask. Most triathletes are more than willing to answer a newcomer’s questions, and point you in the right direction.
#2 Be an avid learner. Just assume that every triathlete you meet knows something you need to know and could learn from. Talk less, and listen more.
#3 You will embarrass yourself; that’s okay, it’s just part of it. As a newcomer, I fell over on my bike a few times as I was getting accustomed to my biking shoes. My swim stroke was also a joke until I figured it out. Look, everyone goes through it, and it will pass. Don’t be too self-conscious; every triathlete understands and has been there.
#4 Apply the principle of reaping and sowing. Be respectful, be helpful, be encouraging, be compassionate, be interested in the success of others, be that person who lends a hand and puts others’ interests ahead of your own, and you’ll find that people will respond in kind with you.
If you want to take the initiative to connect with triathletes in your area, here are a few suggestions:
- Google “triathlon clubs” for your state. For example, here’s a link to the Golden gate Tri Club in California and the Chicago Tri Club, or you can search triathlon club directories.
- Ask around at your YMCA or fitness gym. For example, people who lead spin classes or coach a Masters Swim class usually know who the triathletes are at their fitness club. It’s possible there’s already a triathlon club at your local fitness center. As an example, here’s the Y-Tri Club at the Wilmington, NC Family YMCA. Heck, why not start a club yourself!
- Local running clubs and cycling clubs are also networks that triathletes are involved in.
My advice is to keep your eyes wide open, and don’t get so obsessed with the sport itself that you miss the opportunity to connect with the remarkable people you come across involved in it.
I learned about one triathlon team that competed together in 216 Triathlons, 6 Ironman distances.
That’s just a small part of their story. Here’s the rest of it.
I’m over 40 years old, but I don’t give up easily. It wasn’t too long ago that I was exploring the idea of doing my first triathlon. If I can do it, you can too! I'm proof that with a little determination and training, you can get a great deal of fulfillment participating in marathons, triathlons… even ultramarathons.