For the past year or so, I’ve had the honor to coach new and beginner triathletes. Some of my athletes made great progress and accomplished fantastic goals. Many of those goals, at the beginning, they thought were not possible. Along the process they have thought me many lessons as well.
Here’s the five most important insights I gleaned from coaching new triathletes. Hopefully, they will speed your progress as a new triathlete.
You are more capable than you think you are.
When I first consult with a new athletes many times they are not confident they can achieve their goal. Putting yourself out there, and trying something new is daunting. Instead of telling yourself, you can’t do something, say “I can’t do it right now”. Many athletes before you have finished the race, PR’d or whatever the goal may be. Why can’t you? Decide you will meet your goal at the beginning of the process, then get to work on achieving it.
Don’t view themselves as athletes.
If you are training and participating in races, guess what? You are an athlete. For you to increase your fitness and reach your potential, you need to view yourself as an athlete. You might say, “great I called myself an athlete, now what?” Viewing yourself as an athlete is a shift in mindset. You will view your overall lifestyle differently, and make better decisions. For example, a normal person just eats, and athletes fuels their body. A normal person goes to the gym to workout, an athlete goes to the gym to train. When you view yourself as an athlete your decisions are made with a purpose. That purpose is to achieve your athletic goals.
Need more focused training.
If you want to try a new restaurant across town and you are unsure how to get there, you open up your map app. The map is going to give the quickest route from A to B. A well planned training plan is a road map to your athletic goal. It needs to start with a clear destination, and give direction along the way. You can start your journey with no map, but it will most likely be a longer and more time consuming route. (metaphor off)
This is the most important point for new athletes. Having a training plan can save you tons of time, energy and injury. The plan can come from a coach, or you can find one on the web. Find a plan that leads you to your goal, and fits your schedule. When each workout has a purpose, you will greatly accelerate your athletic progress.
Consider the long term view.
Aside for a very genetically gifted few, most endurance athletes will need years to reach their potential. It takes years of training and patience to build endurance in the body. Take Mark Allen, 6X Ironman World Champ for example. It took him 6 tries to win his first Kona, and the first attempt he didn’t even finish. Over those first six years he kept working, and the speed and endurance came.
It’s easy to only look week to week during training to measure progress. When a workout or a week of training doesn’t go well, we get discouraged. Sometimes, it’s best to pull back and look at your progress from a longer time line. You may have been progressing for the past six weeks, and you on just on a plateau before your next breakthrough.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don’t be shy. As a new triathlete there is a ton on information to learn. There are three sports, training, recovery, equipment, etc. Heck, this is the reason I started this blog. Find an athlete who has been racing for a while, and pick their brain. Most people are excited to help out. You can learn from their mistakes and experience, and speed up your progress.
7 thoughts on “My 5 top insights from coaching new Triathletes”
I am new to the sport and you hit it dead on. Thanks!
Thanks for the feedback. If I can help you in anyway, let me know.
As a fellow coach who works with a lot of first time triathletes, YES excellent article! All five points are very true. I’ll share this with my athletes (even those who don’t think of themselves that way yet). I wrote a post on a similar theme – on how I feel as a long time age group athlete. http://midwestwithzest.com/2015/04/12/three-reasons-i-feel-like-an-athlete/
Thanks for the kind comment. I will check out your post as well.
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Great article. I’m currently training for Ironman Wales, and I’m finding it all very daunting even though I’ve completed a long distance tri before. Do you have any tips to get the confidence back? Or is it just a case of grinding the sessions out until it comes back?
Thanks for reading. Your question is a tough one, and one I have struggled with as well.
There’s comes a time in any big training schedule that doubts and lack of motivation creep in. It happens to me almost every time I training for a big race. Some people can just grind it out, but I’m not one of them.
My best advice is to step back and take a larger view of your progress. Look at how far you have come in your training thus far, and don’t worry what you have left.
If motivation is really sinking, take it easy for a week. Scale back the training, and focus on having fun. Go for a ride on a whole new route. Run some trails with friends. Change up your point of view. This works for me every time.
One last thing. Decide NOW that you will meet your goal. Once your mind is made up, there’s no stopping you. There is no need for doubts and fears. You can control the effort and work, and the rest is out of your control.
I hope this helps. If I can help in anyway, please shoot be an email.
Best of luck,
I had the great honour of being one of Shawn’s beginner athletes last year. The help and encouragement I received from him was invaluable.
It turned out it wasn’t as daunting as I first thought it would be, and I’ve caught the triathlon bug in a massive way now, planning a mammoth season of racing and events with my new found fitness and confidence.