Professor Multisport: When Am I No Longer a Tri Newbie?

Can you check off more than seven out of the 10 of these tri milestones?

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Pundits from every sport love to make newbie-no-more checklists. (So we made one too! See below.) Can you check off more than seven out of the 10 of these tri milestones? Congratulations, you are no longer a newbie!

But let’s consider for a minute why you’re so eager to rid yourself of this novel status. Maybe you remember, with a twinge of dread, those frosh years in high school and college spent learning the ropes while yearning to fit in. Starting tri can be a lot like that, full of moments of awkwardness and experimentation on the way to what you hope is a comfortable place of confidence and mastery.

One practical way to quell your newbie anxiety is to assess your training. Do your workouts vary? Do they have a purpose other than to cover a certain distance or time—speedier workouts, recovery workouts? Do you acknowledge when you’re injured and adjust your training and expectations accordingly? Do you generally fuel for success—more feeling great than bonking? Then you can confidently say you’re not a newbie. But I’d advise you to maintain the mindset, though you may shed the label.

In other words, never stop learning. One of your froshie profs probably told you that, and the lesson applies to pretty much everything, including triathlon. Yes, in many instances when you find something that works for you, it’s good to stick with it. Think: your bike fit; fuel that doesn’t enrage your gut. But the minute you think you know it all, I guarantee someone who’s still experimenting—with their training, their gear, their mindset—will, if I may be so blunt, kick your butt. And if you’re not in it for competition with anyone other than yourself, you may be surprised to find that your old unafraid-to-fail-because- you-had-no-other-choice-in-the-beginning self wasn’t too far off the mark from your now-proudly-advanced self.

So call yourself whatever you like. If the newbie tag makes you cringe, chuck it into the Porta Potty. Just don’t lose that open mind and heart you surely had when you first proclaimed to yourself (before ever diving into the pool, clipping in, or lacing up your sneaks): “I’m going to be a triathlete.”

The Noob Quiz

Answer yes to seven or more out of 10, and you’re no longer a newbie! Get less? Enjoy the ride.

1. It’s totally cool to hang out in Starbucks wearing padded spandex shorts and a half-zipped jersey.
2. Bonking is not fun and will never be referred to sexually.
3. A sprint is a noble goal no matter how long I’ve been racing.
4. Bricks are not blocks.
5. Blocks are not physical objects.
6. It is honorable to pee in public when a race clock is ticking.
7. Taking my crush swimming with a dozen other people counts as a date.
8. I need more garage space for all of my bikes. Always.
9. 5 a.m. is a totally normal time to be up on a Sunday.
10. My dog is named Kona.

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