In less than one month before race day and with literally no training under my belt, I decided to register for my first triathlon. This was a bucket list item and I’m glad I did it.
One year later, I doubled the distance and completed an Olympic-distance triathlon.
Here are 5 life skills I learned along my journey:
How to survive for hours with no water and food.
There were countless training days when I came unprepared with no food. Jumping into a cycling group, I thought there’d be a food break halfway in, but I was wrong – the fellow cyclists just ate along the way while I made the mistake of packing nothing. Even when you’re hungry or exhausted, you learn to make do and push through.
How to swim for more than one minute.
Starting out in the swimming pool, I had forgotten how to breathe properly. My form was horrendous. My body was screaming in pain. I thought it was silly to even attempt a triathlon at this point. The next day, I did what the majority would not do: I returned to the pool. If you’re hitting roadblocks, that’s good. Keep practicing until you can go two minutes, twenty minutes, and so on. By race day, I could go the distance without a problem.
How to socialize.
Triathlon is a solo sport, yet by attempting one, you are giving yourself a reason to talk with people and learn from others. Your friends are fascinated by your passion and motivation, and you come off as a different type of person. We often forget that hobbies help us socially, as we grow from new experiences.
How to bootstrap.
You will find every bell and whistle imaginable in the shopping mall, but the fastest way to improve your times is to improve your body. Eliminate the noise and recommendations for the priciest equipment – I went with a basic road bike and running shoes to get me through the race. You will find that as you start, the biggest barrier to pushing through is the idea that you need something better. Losing five pounds of fat is much cheaper than losing five pounds of bicycle equipment weight. As you progress in life, you can start looking at tools to improve your performance. For now, focus on starting.
How to be independent.
The only person to push you through the course is yourself. The support network is invaluable to have, but the race day will shed some light on one important fact: you are solely responsible for your success. I spent my life depending on friends and family too often, and too often I was spoiled. With triathlon, I was forced to take control. I’m glad I did.