Do You Have the Triathlon Bug?
When you cross the finish line in your first triathlon, you will experience an array of feelings, physical and emotional. You may be out of breath and hurting from the exertion of the final, crazy sprint to the finish. You may be feeling the thrill of doing something that a few months ago you probably wouldn't have thought possible. It's not uncommon for tears to flow at such a time.
If you got through the triathlon without major problems and finished feeling pretty good, you were probably hooked then and there. If you thought it was fun and you're high as a kite from the excitement of finishing, you don't need any motivational speeches. Sure, you're sore, but the pain won't last. It will be forgotten tomorrow. You can't wait to get out there again, and you know you'll do better. What a charge!
If you did not do as well in your first triathlon as you expected, focus on the fact that you are active and healthy, capable of undertaking the physical challenges of such an event. How many people do you know who would even try it?
On the other hand, you may simply be exhausted, sweaty, and sore when you get to the end. You may feel that your triathlon adventure was a mistake and that you aren't cut out for this sort of thing. Such feelings are usually the result of a disappointing performance. You thought you would do a lot better, but most of the race was a struggle.
Don't be too quick to judge yourself or your performance. If you made some mistakes, most of them can be corrected, and perhaps there were external factors that affected your times. If, for example, the weather turned out unexpectedly hot on race day, it would take you a lot longer than you anticipated to finish, especially if you trained in a more favorable climate. Don't get down on yourself or the triathlon experience because you had a bad race in the heat, rain, or whatever slowed you down.
Try not to be upset with yourself because of a bad race even if conditions were perfect. Everyone has a bad day or two. You just got yours out of the way early in your triathlon career. Remember those training days that didn't go so well? The same thing can happen on race day.
If things didn't go very well and you're feeling miserable, have a beer, a hamburger, and some chips, maybe some cookies afterward, and put it all out of your mind. Don't even consider future triathlon plans until tomorrow, after you have had a chance to reflect on some of the things you might have done better.
Don't listen to people around you complaining or swearing they'll never do another triathlon. Most of them will be at their computers the following day signing up for the next race. They're just talking. It's human nature to gripe. Don't take it seriously.
Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle? Did you jump right on and pedal down the street the first time? No, you kept trying despite falling down a few times. Don't quit the triathlon just because you didn't “get it” the first time.
For some, even a bad first experience won't be enough to put them off triathlons. There is a lot of positive energy flying around the venue, and if you review your race dispassionately, you will probably recognize many things you could improve on next time.
Looking at it another way, if you didn't do very well the first time, your next triathlon will surely be an improvement, and that's what everyone strives for, right?