One of the questions I get asked a lot when I tell people that I am a triathlete (yes, I am that stereotypical triathlete who loves to tell people) is ‘how do you do it?’ The vast majority of people seem to think that doing a swim, bike and run in one day is bordering on the impossible.
Instead of boring them with how much training I do or the improvements to my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) this year I tell them something very simple, ‘go and watch a triathlon and you will see that anyone can do it.’ I stand by these words. I love spending time at the finish line cheering other competitors on. I even had the privilege of spectating at Iron Man Australia a couple of weeks ago. So why should someone go and watch a triathlon? Because they will see that triathletes come in all shapes and sizes. There are short, tall, skinny, big, old, young and everything in between sharing the course. The idea that all triathletes are fit and lean is not true. Yes, there are a number of competitors who do fall into that category but they certainly are not the entire field.
So what is that makes people of all ages and shapes a triathlete? I think it is something more than simply competing a swim, bike, run. Instead they did something simple. They decided to have a go. They didn’t approach a triathlon as something that was impossible. Instead, they decided to make it possible. I think if you spoke to most people at the finish line of their first race they will tell you that it seemed impossible to them before the race but after they crossed that line they realised it wasn’t. All it took was the courage to give it a try.
I’m not an idiot though, I know how intimidating it can be to step outside your comfort zone. Which is another reason why I think it is a good idea to go and watch a race. Not only will you see that anyone can do a triathlon, you may meet some likeminded people who you can start to train with. Another great option is to try a beginner camp. A great example of this is the certification camps held at Thanyapura. These camps are designed to help beginner athletes prepare for a race. By training with the coaching staff and other athletes, you are able to line up on the start line of your first race knowing you will be able to get to the finish line.
There is however another reason why I think that it is a great idea to do something outside of your comfort zone. Once you succeed at reaching your goal, you will know that something you perceived as hard or impossible was in fact, possible. I really believe that successfully achieving your goals can give a person the confidence to move onto bigger goals. Look at triathletes as the perfect example. Someone who starts with a little triathlon that they thought was impossible will continue to race longer distances until they are lining up for their first Iron Man. I assume that is still scary and difficult for them with the cloud of uncertainty over their heads. But I also think that based on their past experiences they know that what may appear impossible is not.
So don’t let your own perception of what is and is not possible limit you. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Whether you want to do it solo or with others before you know it you will be crossing the finish line and who knows, there may be someone standing there watching who is inspired to have a go themselves.