Beginner’s Luck: Lessons from a Low Speed Tip-Over

"Beginner's Luck" columnist Meredith Atwood writes about the importance of your frame of mind when it comes to swim, bike, and run.

“Beginner’s Luck” columnist Meredith Atwood writes about the importance of your frame of mind when it comes to swim, bike, and run. 

I remember a particular bad bike ride like it was yesterday—even though it’s been three years now. The ride was 50 miles, which was no small feat, because I think it was the first ride of the season. And the worst part? I had a Low Speed Tip-Over (LST) at a stop light. My coach and I were about to go, and a firetruck came a ’blazing down the road. Coach stopped, and I teetered, trying to get ahold of myself.  Nope. Clipped in. Down she goes.

By the way, a LST is very common—it happens to everyone at some point. It happens to me maybe more frequently than others, but I was proud, as it was my first one in a very, very long time. I was overdue.

When I got home from not only the LST, but also a mentally and physically “bad” ride, I came across a post about “The Seven Habits of People with Mental Toughness.” As I read through it, I bemoaned: I have NONE of these attributes! I am not mentally tough nor physically strong, nor anything in between. Waaaa!

Number 1: Always act as if you are in total control.

Was this before or after all the f-bombs I was throwing out while we were climbing mini-Everest mountains on the ride? And the temper tantrum I threw when I LST’d over? I felt like my emotions were all over the place. In control? Ugh.

Number 5: Never allow yourself to whine. (Or complain. Or criticize.)

Well.  I was whining like crazy. And complaining.  And criticizing myself. I woke up sick. I did not eat enough. I felt like crap, popping a headache around Mile 12. I was struggling all around. Just had not been in the saddle climbing in quite some time–and it showed.

Number 7: Count your blessings.

“It’s a beautiful day to climb on a bike!” in the words of my first coach. Okay, so I did say that a few times. And I meant it about zero times–but the mere thought of positivity got me through.

I mean, I had a brutal ride. Climbing 4,000 feet on a bike is an exercise in mental toughness, even on a good day. But that is another reason to count my blessings: I get to do this amazing thing called triathlon and riding and running.

I realized after reading that mental toughness is all a frame of mind. Seems obvious, but we are exactly what and who we think, believe and hold tight in our heads.

If we take a moment to embrace the fact that we are strong, tough, gritty, remarkable, amazing, and more—and we all truly are!—then really, the sky is the limit on what we can accomplish.

Mike Reilly, the amazing “Voice of Ironman,” tells athletes on race morning: “The only thing you can control today is your attitude.” I always like that, because our attitude is the first step in building any sort of mental fortitude. If we think good thoughts and stay positive, who knows what can happen with that small step.

When I look back on the LST (Low Speed Tip-Over), I can laugh and remain positive that I do, in fact, know how to ride a bike. That’s something in mental toughness right there.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. You can download a free copy of the book here. She is the host of the new iTunes podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith also works with the amazing Dina Griffin, RD, in a Metabolic Efficiency Training nutrition program called “Optimal Thrive.” Meredith writes about all the things at