Beginner’s Luck: Fear in Triathlon

You jump into this sport full of hope for a challenge, and maybe a change—but then the fear of everything sets in.

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One of the most common fears in a newbie triathlete is… EVERYTHING.

Embarking on a new sport is tough enough—let alone three—and if you are like me at the start of tri-ing, I was really not great or proficient at any of the sports. Which begs the question: why in the world did I want to become a triathlete?

Well, for all those reasons, really! Maybe much like you—to learn new things, step outside of my comfort zone in a real way, and most of all? To simply change. Change my internal dialogue, my goals, and yes, my body.

The fear of failing was never something I was afraid of—because by the time I found triathlon, I was (internally) failing at life.

On the outside, everything looked great. But on the inside, I was drowning. So with triathlon, what did I have to lose? I was overworked, overweight, overextended, and overanxious. I was over my habits, my feelings, and my drama.

It took me years (and years) to overcome a lot of the drama and bad habits (and frankly, it’s something I work at constantly). However, realizing that I was over much of myself was a turning point.

Triathlon is a way to shake up your life, and I suspect that many of us come to the sport this way.

So we accept the big challenge that is changing our lives really, and then we are petrified. Naturally.

Acknowledge the Fear

It’s okay to say, “I am a little freaked out here.”

Understand What Fear Is

Fear is a response to something that we are unsure about; where the outcome is unknown. Sure, there are other definitions—but I like to frame fear as “outcome unknown.” That doesn’t need to be a negative thing. Our need for certainty in all things is often what has us stuck in the first place. We’ve become complacent and certain in our behaviors. We are desperately searching for something new and exciting—this is it! Don’t fear it.

Rationalize the Fear

We are swimming, biking and running—that’s all. Of course, there are dangers and with any new thing—there is fear—but it’s not the end. There is danger in almost anything in life—yes, seriously (did you not see “This is Us” with the slow cooker?).

With some safety, smarts and becoming a student of triathlon—you knock those dangers and the fears significantly down.  There is nothing like practice and consistency to take away some of the big fears and make them lesser.

Stick to Your Dream

You made a small promise to yourself when you said, “I want to become a triathlete.” Don’t give up—stick to the plan, make it happen. To do a sprint triathlon, you need not train like an animal. A little swim, bike and run—each discipline at least one time a week—and you’ll be well on your way to that finish line.


Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of the new best-seller, Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You.. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours. Meredith lives in Overland Park, Kansas (for now!) with her husband and two tweens and writes about all things at Her next book, The Year of No Nonsense, is available December 2019.

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