Beginner’s Luck: Are You Owning Your Athleticism?

You swim, you bike, and you run, and now it's time to do these three other things.

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You swim, you bike, and you run, and now it’s time to do these three other things.

I have written about the importance of accepting ourselves as athletes, as runners, as triathletes. I say that no matter who we are—if we are tri-ing (and trying!) we are athletes. I have written about the importance of not downplaying our accomplishments—no matter how big or how seemingly small. That no athletic feat is “just” anything, but that we should own the athletes we are. To work hard to get better, but be thankful right where we are, right in this moment, for all the amazing things that our bodies can accomplish.

Often, though, I find that I completely fail at following my own advice—at least on the inside.

I wanted to share an experience I had in the hot tub one time. I had a 2,000 meter time-trial in the pool. The swim went well and I felt quite triathlete-like with my sore body and goggle-eyes. I hopped out of the pool and dipped into the hot tub adjacent to the pool.

I was alone for moment, before a super-fit guy hopped in. I nodded at him. And stuck my face back in my waterproof-cased phone.

But, he was very chatty. My poor inner introvert. So anyway, the guy sees that I am sitting in the hot tub with my phone.

“Wow, that’s risky,” he says, pointing to my phone.

“Oh, Lifeproof case. Waterproof,” I say, sticking my nose back in Instagram.

“Hey, are you a swimmer?” he asks.

And I freeze. Oh no… not one of those questions. Am I a swimmer? Am I a swimmer? Well, I just swam… so that makes me a swimmer…

I took entirely too long to answer. But there was so much dialogue in my head: I am a swimmer. But wait. Actually, I am more than just a swimmer. I am a triathlete. I do three sports! Three! Right, but I don’t look like it. Oh geez. I hate this question. 


“Oh well,” I started to say, then I paused, gulped, and said, “Actually, I am a triathlete. I do three things.”

(In my head, I am screaming at myself: Stupid! Who says, ‘I do three things!?)

Turns out, Chatty McHotTub was super nice, was a triathlete himself, did Ironman Louisville a few years ago, and we had a nice little chat and that was that.

As I was driving home, it hit me—regardless of the dozens and dozens of races, Ironman, and years of working out and training, I am STILL struggling with owning my athleticism. Still.

Un-freaking-real. I had actually gulped before I said, “I am a triathlete.”

I paused. I hesitated, and I let myself feel shy, unworthy and embarrassed right there.

After all the stuff I write, all the races and training, and I still *gulp* and say stupid crap when people ask me about my training. I thought I had worked this out already.

“I do three things.” Hurmph.

Today, I am making it my purpose to “do three [other] things”—and those are:

1. Admit to myself that I am a triathlete (and an athlete).

2. Say it out loud, and…

3. Once and for all—mean it.

So here goes: My name is Meredith. And I am a triathlete. And an athlete. And I mean it. 

How about you? Are you owning your athleticism?

Are you still saying I “just” do _____, instead of I “do”?

Are you admitting you are an athlete yet? If no… what is stopping you?

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 podcast, The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at

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