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Beginner’s Luck: 3 Keys to Becoming a Well-Rounded Triathlete

Meredith Atwood shares the keys for becoming a well-rounded triathlete.

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Meredith Atwood shares the keys for becoming a well-rounded triathlete.

In a recent column, I shared my foolproof secret to becoming a triathlete.

But I realized that I left off a major component.

Sure, we must own our athleticism if we are to have a shot at doing the sport of triathlon, and I do contend that the belief in ourselves is the most valuable muscle we can learn to use. Yes, we also need a bike at some point. However, one thing that still seems to escape beginners (and experienced triathletes) is the amount of hard work required.

Now this is where I lose some people, but hear me out.

Work does not necessarily mean an output of giant, inexplicable, and overwhelming amounts of time.  Work does not necessarily equal pain and distress.
Work does not necessarily equal marital and family discord and strife.
Work does not mean injuries and sleeplessness.

Can work mean all of those things? Of course! But we are not triathlon martyrs, here. We need not sacrifice our souls, relationships, and life in the name of a race. We “know” this in our heads, but oftentimes as we get the newfound triathlon “bug,” it becomes easy to forget the basics of life.

I have experienced a fair amount of panic training—both as a coach and an athlete. You know—when a race is suddenly super-scary close and we decide to cram a tremendous amount of work into one weekend and ignoring all reason and the schedule.

Panic training is the anthesis of another secret to triathlon success: consistency and boredom.

The combination of mental toughness, consistency, and boredom creates a well-rounded at any-level triathlete. Brent Pease and I were chatting this morning about coaching and workouts—and how we often want to say we are “bored” with the same ole same workouts. However, sometimes we aren’t doing the workouts in the first place, so how are we actually bored? We’re bored because we read a boring workout?

Consistency is the name of the game. Doing the workouts, no matter how boring, advances us to the next level in our training cycle and prepares us for race day. Doing the work creates muscle memory for hard work—and sets a foundation for tougher training. If you want to race longer in the future, learn to be bored as hell—it’s part of the “job.”

Doing the same ole same workouts is a branch of mental toughness that some (perhaps not all) of us need—before we should move on to the next phase. Not that fun workouts can’t be incorporated—but there is a certain toughness learned and earned with stretching those muscles of consistency and boredom. Once we start seeing a whole lotta green in Training Peaks and knowing we put forth our best efforts when it’s hard and boring—is a joy unlike any other.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. You can download a free triathlon race day checklist here. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com