10 Life Lessons I Learned from Competing in Triathlons

The thought of competing in a triathlon can be very daunting if you have never swam, rode a bike, or went for a run. You may even wonder if you have what it takes to compete in a triathlon. Triathlons are one of those sports that people all shapes and sizes with varying levels of ability can compete in. The race is your race. Your journey.IMG_2823

Everyone has their own reasons for participating in a triathlon: to decrease blood pressure, to stay in shape, to lose weight, or to do something that not many people do. The list can go on. Over the years, my “why” for competing in a triathlon has changed. My reasons are participating in the sport have varied from attempting something new, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, training with others, competing the team, and challenging myself years later. The more I compete in triathlons the more I learn about myself and life.

  1. Commit to Performing and Achieving at Your Personal Best

No one said that success would come easy. It takes a lot of hard work and effort no matter how talented you may be. Start with the end goal and create a plan starting from the end goal in reverse. What do you need to do to achieve your personal best? You have resources around you that you can tap into. Your supports can come in the form of personal trainers, triathlon clubs, training partners, and online training programs. What resources and supports do you have to support you in life? You need to consistently work the plan in order to get where you want to go. Each time you train in a discipline, you should be challenging yourself in time, distance, or technique.

  1. Get Yourself To The Start Line

The psychology of getting to the start line is just as important as crossing the finish line. How many people are willing to jump up and go after what they want? How many people are held hostage by their fears or self-limiting beliefs? When you take action in the direction of your dreams, a momentum will build to help propel you forward. Don’t worry about how you will finish or what you will look like. Take consistent steps to build your skills and abilities toward going the distance and you will surprise yourself. One of life’s greatest lessons is about making a choice to begin.

  1. Transitions are Part of Sport and Life.

In triathlons, the quick changes between swim and bike and the bike and run are called transitions. Transitions represent the many turning points that we face in our lives. There are times you have to switch gears and times you need to make quick decisions while still keeping in motion. Life is very much like a triathlon. Life is about moving through the transitions, being resilient when changes occur, and enduring the process.

  1. Accept Challenges Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Challenges are a part of life and our greatest growth occurs when we step outside that comfort zone. It is only when you step out of your comfort zone that you realize what is possible if you only tried. I have participated in triathlons where people had only learned to swim or run within the past year. These people inspire me. They remind me that life is about learning, trying new things, and creating a better version of ourselves. It is never too late to begin. Your greatest learning comes from accepting these challenges and discovering that you have the potential to do almost anything.

  1. Surround Yourself With People Who Support And Challenge You

You want to surround yourself with people who challenge you to become a better version of yourself. These are people who are there to support you just as much as you support them along their journey. Triathletes are willing to cheer on and support fellow competitors. The energy before, during, and at the end of the race is contagious. The same energy can ripple to all areas of your life.

  1. Focus On Your Strengths

We are quick to examine our shortfalls and not so quick to recognize their strengths. Triathlons are not about being perfect in every sport. In times or areas of weakness, your strengths can make up for any shortfalls. You are often stronger than you give yourself credit for. By focusing on your strengths, you only strengthen your abilities to face any situation. Mentally, you become stronger and tougher as you push through your self-imposed limits.

  1. Look After Your Body

You have only one life to live. Fuel your body with healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Limit your consumption of alcohol. Avoid sugary and greasy foods. Exercise helps you strengthen your body so you can maintain a healthy body weight, look youthful, and live longer.

  1. Keep Looking Forward

You cannot move ahead by focusing on what or who is behind you. You cannot move ahead by comparing yourself to others. Look forward a few feet at a time. Each step or pedal will get you closer. However, if you see someone reach a milestone or cross the finish line, you know that others have gone before you and that you can do it too. When you look ahead, you give yourself something to look forward to. The excitement and enthusiasm builds as you anticipate reaching your destination.

  1. Who You Become In The Process Is More Important Than The Destination
Female Runner Winning Marathon

Female Runner Winning Marathon

One of my greatest lessons I have learned while competing in triathlons was to celebrate how far you have come. I remember competing in a Try the Tri (designed for people trying out the sport) several years after competing in an Olympic distance triathlon and not spending a lot of time training just to see if I could participate in a triathlon again. It was during the triathlon that I realized that I did not give myself credit for what it took to compete in the triathlon in previous years. It was hard work and commitment. I am proud of my accomplishments and what it took for me to get there more so than crossing the finish line. How many times in your life have you let an accomplishment go unnoticed? Who have you become because of what it took for you to reach that achievement?

  1. Cross The Finish Line

It doesn’t matter if you compete in a triathlon individually or as a team member. What matters is that you show up and you finish strong. As in life, it is important to finish which you start. Focus on your goals and what you want to achieve. Stay the course, there are many distractions along the way but know if you remain consistent and work at a steady pace you will reach your destination. There is no greater feeling than when you are able to witness all your hard work pay off. You did it – you crossed the finish line! What was once a thought has now become a reality.

Whatever your reason for competing in a triathlon, you will learn many lessons along the way. It is your race and it begins with you. Accept life’s challenges and know that you are not alone. If you are still wondering if you can complete in a triathlon, give it a tri! Life begins at the start line.

Debra Kasowski, BScN CEC is an award winning bestselling author, speaker, and certified executive coach. She is a certified facilitator of Appreciative Inquiry an approach for positive change and in the area of Emotional Intelligence. Debra Kasowski International helps individuals, executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations boost their productivity, performance, and profits. It all starts with people and passion. www.debrakasowski.com


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