In a previous blog post, I gave you some quality tips on how you can graduate from being a beginner triathlete to an intermediate or advanced triathlete. If you have not read it yet, check it out. If you feel stuck, you will find ways to change your training to take your game to the next level. There is, however, a surprise twist to graduation: you shouldn’t graduate your mindset.
I signed up for my first triathlon with Team in Training back in the winter of 2006. I was a senior in high school, and had to fudge my age so that my parents did not have to come to 4:30 am swim practice with me. We were a small group of 15 or so athletes all training for the Gulf Coast half distance triathlon. While I had some swimming experience (meaning I could swim without drowning), plenty of running miles, and could ride without training wheels on my steel road bike, I still had no idea what I was doing but did not care one iota. Simply put, it was fun. I looked forward to morning swim practices, and had trouble sleeping before Saturday bricks because I was so excited.
Like many of you, I will never forget that first race. I did not care about time or watts or pace. I just wanted to enjoy myself. After 10 years of training and racing in multisport, this “first race glow” has dimmed and with it my enjoyment of the sport. Race after race, I focused more and more on metrics, paces, gear, and my competition. As time has past, anxiety and stress have replaced my pleasure and excitement. I still get jazzed about races and training. But it’s not the same type of buzz. It’s a nervous buzz.
So I am throwing that all out the window and going back to being a beginner at least in my mindset. So what does this mean?
To me, keeping a novice mindset means:
Being curious about my workouts and my own process so that my training is one big experiment of how much I can improve.
Focusing on training and not equipment.
Always learning from others and from my own experiences.
Realizing that I will have good days and bad and it’s ok to have bad ones–they are all good parts of the process.
Savoring each triumph even the little ones.
Learning from each mistake, like forgetting my swim goggles at home.
Realizing that I can continue to improve my form every workout.
Each race and practice is a gift.
Getting excited for race day and using my nerves as proof that it’s going to be fun.
Swimming and racing my own race.
Avoiding the drama of Slowtwitch forums.
Not tying my identity to the finish time.
While I will keep my improved times, shaved legs and matching cycling kit, in my mind, I am still that fresh, bright eyed kid preparing for that first race.