I read a post recently that has made me question myself. The author wrote that she had competed in a couple triathlons, but didn’t consider herself a triathlete because she did not put in the proper (well, more like ZERO) training into preparing for those races. That just because you finish a triathlon doesn’t make you a triathlete.
This post has given me a lot of food for thought. At first, I agreed, you shouldn’t be able to show up at a triathlon without putting your training time in and be able to call yourself a triathlete at the end of the day. Anyone in reasonably good shape, could show up to a sprint triathlon and at least finish, even if they doggie paddled the whole swim or rode an old beach cruiser. They finish a triathlon, but are they triathletes?
But then I started to remember what it was like during the early days of my running career. I have heard it time and time again “You’re a runner as soon as you take that first stride, no matter how far or how fast you run….you’re a runner”. So why doesn’t this apply to triathletes? If you can all three sports, shouldn’t you be a TRIathlete??? I secretively considered myself a triathlete before completing my first actual triathlon. I just didn’t announce it to the public.
The more I thought about it, I began to question my own athletic status…..”am I a triathlete?” After all, I have only completed one triathlon, a pool sprint triathlon at that. I started to become insecure in the fact that I haven’t done an open water tri, or a longer distance tri…..what do ironmen triathletes think about us newbies??? I train in all three disciplines, but have I put my time in? I started to feel like an imposter next to some of the more seasoned triathletes.
I did a google search for “signs of a triathlete” and found this list on Tri Juice and found that I can check off over 90% of this list.
- 25 – One of your goals this year is to be faster at getting out of a wetsuit.
- 24 – You talk about a “hammer” and “brick”, but you’re not referring to construction.
- 23 – You spend 7 days going to 8 stores in 4 malls before buying a pair of running shoes but you take 1 afternoon to go to 1 car dealership and walk out with a new car 4 hours later.
- 22 – That charming “cologne” you wear to work is chlorine.
- 21 – You have more water bottles than glasses in your cupboard.
- 20 – You have enough pairs of old running shoes sitting in your closet to open your own shoe store.
- 19 – You immediately bow down before someone with the Ironman “m dot”tattoo.
- 18 – You have NO idea what to do with yourself on your off day. You mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, washed the car, and there’s STILL 4 hours of daylight left! Aarrgghh!
- 17 – When you’re always showing up to work in the morning with goggle imprints around your eyes.
- 16 – You have so many tan lines you look like a zebra (running socks, bathing suit, jersey, biking shorts, tri shorts, sunglasses, gloves, watch, etc).
- 15 – The first three items on your grocery list are Gatorade, power bars, and gels.
- 14 – You get funny looks when putting on Body Glide on your neck because people think it’s deodorant.
- 13 – About half the shirts you own have at least a dozen logos on the back of them.
- 12 – You wait a couple of days to take your car in when the “check engine light goes on, but when your bike needs a tune up you take it right away.
- 11 – You refer to the front hall of your house as the “transition area”.
- 10 – The one “suit” you own has a QR on the chest.
- 09 – When you get home from a training session, the newspaper is just being delivered to your house.
- 08 – You consider work, regeneration time between training sessions.
- 07 – Your bicycle is in your living room.
- 06 – Your car smells like a locker room.
- 05. There’s a separate load of laundry every week that is just your workout clothes.
- 04 – When asked, how old you are you answer 30-35.
- 03 – Your first thought when you wake up is how high your rest HR is.
- 02 – Your spouse cried during Terms of Endearment; you cried during the television coverage of the Hawaii Ironman.
- 01 – Most of this list doesn’t seem like a joke to you.
I admit, I have not fully embraced the triathlete lifestyle. I still resist early morning workouts, and sometimes resent my crazy schedule. But today, as I gutted out a run under the midday sun in 82 degree heat, then hopped on my bike for more pain and torture, nearly puking from exhaustion and too little fuel…….I realized…..YES, I am a TRIATHLETE! You can’t quantify what a triathlete is by how many workouts or how many races or what distance races a person has done. I think I became a triathlete the moment I decided to do one. It was more than just deciding to do a triathlon on a whim. I was fully enthralled and mesmerized by all things triathlon from day 1. My transformation was a slow one. Being a triathlete is a state of mind. I no longer think of myself as a runner. (I won’t say just a runner, there a plenty of just runners that I idolize and could eat my triathlon butt for lunch any day!) I am a triathlete. I am obsessed by the multisport lifestyle.
And then I thought back to the atmosphere at the ONE and ONLY race I have done, and thought of my tri club. I realized how silly this whole internal debate was. Triathletes (for the most part) are the most un-judgmental and supportive group of people I have ever known in my athletic endeavors. Sure they are competitive, but the tri community has been very welcoming and supportive to this newbie……never once questioning my so called status. I have been welcomed with open arms, and recognized as a real triathlete. Thank you!
So to those of you who feel like they are imposter triathletes…..I say it’s a state of mind, not merely a title. If you love the sport and and are working towards a multisport goal, it doesn’t matter how much (or how little) training time, how many races you have under your belt, or if you have even completed an event…..you are a triathlete.
I am a triathlete!
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