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Bethany Rutledge: It Pays to be a Newbie

bethanyrutledge Beginners

This article was originally published on the Podium Multisports blog.

When John and I first started out we were totally intimidated to attend a group ride. Everyone seemed so fast and I barely knew whether my bike was a road bike or a tri bike much less how to actually ride it. My first day was on the Silver Comet Trail with Atlanta Tri Club. I remember feeling a sense of panic when we passed the highway 278 bridge in Powder Springs, which marked the farthest I had ever ridden.

The rest of the story is that everyone was very nice and helpful and I felt much better about attending the rides after a few more sessions. Furthermore, I was able to soak up a ton of helpful tips right away on shifting, nutrition, saddles, and all the other things you wonder about when you’re first starting out.

When you first start out, it’s normal to be eager to graduate from newbie status. When I first started out in sales, I was given the instruction to use my ‘new’ status for as long as possible. Saying your new covers a multitude of errors and shortcomings, and the same applies to just starting out in triathlon.

Here are some of the ways it pays to be a newb:

People love to teach

Whether it’s asking for shifting advice during a group ride or asking about transition tips, most people love to be asked about something of which they have knowledge.

You can ask for forgiveness versus permission

This universally applicable phrase works well in the arena of triathlon. When you accidentally do something that goes against group norms like wearing an aero helmet during a training session, or a full tri kit to a run race, you have a great built in excuse of being a newbie!

You’re constantly celebrating achievements

From tackling your first brick session to the finish line of your first race, being a newbie means constantly celebrating small successes. Make it a habit now of celebrating and appreciating each small step now. It’s a habit that will serve you well later where not every training session is a PR or new experience.

But… know when to graduate from newbie status~

Just like anything it’s possible to take it too far. If you’re winning races or placing in your category in big races, it’s time to stop talking about how new you are to the sport. Also, let’s talk about the novice category. After your second triathlon, it’s time to move into your regular category wave. Finally, if you’re winning “My First Mini Tri” year after year, it’s time to pass the torch to a true newbie