I’m brand new to triathlon and DCT will be my third race. To be honest, I’m a bit intimidated when I turn up – I feel self-conscious in my lycra one-piece with my ordinary bike and compare myself to these super-fit athletes with flashy bikes, all the equipment and who all look so confident and assured. I get a great sense of achievement once I’m done, but how can I block out those negative thoughts and just enjoy my own race without comparing myself to others. – Caitríona
Caitríona – believe it or not, everyone feels the same as you do – even those super-fit athletes you’re talking about. You see them in transition, setting up their flashy bikes and you think they have it sorted. But they have their own worries and concerns just like you; they might be feeling the pressure of achieving a personal best or even winning the race – you just can’t see it, but be sure that everyone has concerns of some variety.
So, everyone is dealing with their own worries and they’re not even thinking about you. It’s always hard for us to bear in mind that no one thinks about us as much as we think about ourselves – everyone is far too busy thinking about their own situation to be thinking about you.
Next, move away from thinking of others and focus on you. Have a think for a moment about what your personal target is for this race. Why did you begin triathlons and what do you want to get out of participation in this sport? Is it to one day be one of those super-fit athletes with their flashy bikes? Or is it to do a personal best on the swim? Why does this matter to you? Think about how your life will be better once you have achieved some of these goals that mean so much to you. Then set your goals and work backwards, breaking the body of training down into small manageable chunks and deal with each of those as they come. This needs to be your focus, working towards achieving targets that matter to you, being present and living your life – this is what is important, this is what will give you real satisfaction.
Because no one can be a better you than you can be, no one can live your life except you. You are the only person in the world with your DNA, your parents, your history, your experiences….so who on earth could do a better job of being you than you? No one! We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others, but you are the best version of you and your job in this life is to get out there and live your life to the full, because you can’t live anyone else’s life. So, if being new to a sport, finding your feet and learning the ropes is part of living that life then great, it is all part of life’s rich tapestry.
It’s also worth remembering that those super-fit athletes had to start somewhere and they had to go through a process to get to where they are. If you want to join them, there are processes you can go through to get there too. But if you want to simply enjoy your sport without ending up super-fit with a flashy bike, that’s fine too, there is value in both. Either way, there’s no point in comparing yourself to other people.
Finally, those super-fit athletes with their flashy bikes might well just look at you, someone who is ‘brand new to triathlon’, and feel a fondness for their own early days. They might have a healthy respect for you as they remember how tough it is to take those early steps into a new sport. They might be backing the new girl to have a good experience on her first outings in triathlon. They might also be delighted to see their sport grow in popularity. So, when they look at you this is what they might see, not the lycra one-piece and the ordinary bike. Stand tall, hold your head up, and go out and enjoy this fantastic experience.