Beginner’s Luck: Can I Really Do a Triathlon?

"Don’t doubt your ability to move forward, change your life and execute on a great day that will change your life forever."

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At the dawn of every race season, we welcome new people into the sport of triathlon. The same questions arise each season, with the same gusto, and the same fears. I even went so far as to write a book about all of these questions I think I have heard—only to find at least one person each season that slings a new one that I’ve never heard in my direction.

The point? We (current triathletes) can never anticipate (or often remember) what it feels like to be a true beginner in the sport once we are a part of the seasoned crowd.

It’s easy to forget just how scary it is to ride up to a stop sign — thinking, ‘I hope I can get out of these pedal clips.’ (Okay, so am I the only “seasoned” athlete out there who feels the same way? Whoops!)

No matter how many “getting started in triathlon” articles I, or others, write there will always be one big question that needs answering from the newbie triathlete.

And it goes like this:

Can I really (really, I mean truly, and really… me… we’re talking about ME) do a triathlon?

Triathlon is full of some of the most amazing and helpful, encouraging and steadfast people in the world. At the same time, the ones who have been in the sport the longest can easily forget just how scary branching out into triathlon can be.

So to answer this question, as thoroughly as I think it can be answered:


You can float/doggie paddle/swim.
You can ride a tricycle/bicycle/tandem/hand-cycle.
You can walk/jog/run/wheel.
You can do all three back-to-back in a little race called a triathlon.
Even if you can’t do any of it right now.
Even if you have disabilities and hurdles and major obstacles to overcome.
You can become a triathlete.
And that’s all you need to decide. Make the DECISION that you will.

Once you have made that glorious DECISION, put yourself into the frame of mind that you will: be safe, be smart and become a student of triathlon.  If you are doing those things: being safe, being smart and learning about the sport as much as you can—you will cross the finish line.

You don’t need to be fast or have fancy equipment. You don’t even have to have a perfect body (in looks or in ability)—there are options for everyone who has the desire to tri.

So when you ask yourself, “Can I really do a triathlon?”

The answer is a whole-hearted yes. Don’t doubt your ability to move forward, change your life, and execute on a great day that will change your life forever. That, my friends, requires no “beginner’s luck.”

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of the best-selling book, “Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You.” She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours, and writes at Her next book, “The Year of No Nonsense,” is available December 2019.  

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