|A free event hosted by the OTC for club members|
Triathlon is ultimately an individual sport. It's up to you to put the effort in during your training, because you are the only one who can complete your race. But in my mind, triathlon takes a village.
I trained for my first triathlon by myself. It was fine, because I was able to set my own schedule and train when it was convenient for me. But after completing my first race, I knew that I needed to join some sort of training group. I needed people to push me and I wanted to make some friends too! That's when Geordie, the head coach of the OTC, suggested that I join the OTC swim program and consider joining the Triathlon Training Program (TTP). I had met Geordie earlier in the summer at the Triathlon Clinic, and had learned a lot from him in just one afternoon. Plus, at my first triathlon, I couldn't help but notice all the people wearing their blue and yellow OTC gear or signature orange t-shirts, cheering for each other and socializing post-race. So I joined and now I want to tell you why I think you should find some training buddies too!
Joining a training group means that you will have at least one, maybe more, set workouts during the week. You know your group will show up and you will get a great workout in, so you make it a priority to show up yourself. It is way harder to slack off and skip your workouts when you know there are 5-15 other people that are going to be there putting in the time.
You get to meet lots of cool people if you join a training group. You will all have at least one thing in common. Some, or maybe all, of these people will become your friends! I've been really lucky to meet a lot of awesome people through not just my group, but through the entire club, and I'm happy to call them friends as well as training buddies.
Most triathletes are inspiring to me. The sport takes a measure of determination and dedication. You will meet people from all walks of life working to achieve their goals - whether that be to improve their overall health and fitness, complete an Ironman, qualify for an event, etc. These people will have incredible stories of obstacles, injuries, and illness overcome. They will be passionate and training with them will inspire you to be a better athlete and human being!
There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned from your coaches and fellow athletes. For a beginner, this can be an amazing resource! These people have been there and done that. They can share tips on training, racing, bike maintenance, the best equipment, cool races to go to, what not to do, etc. The more people you meet and train with, the more likely that someone has faced whatever issue you are wondering about or can help you find the answers to your questions.
It is likely that you will train with people who are stronger, faster, and more experienced than you. Training with those people will also make you stronger and faster. Don't be afraid to push yourself or to start out at the back of the pack. Let yourself be inspired to work harder.
Duh! It is way, way more fun to train with other people. You get to chat, laugh, and share stories. These people will become your friends (see #2) and you will actually look forward to seeing them every week, because they make training more fun. And maybe you get to grab a beer together after practice (wink!). Plus, you'll have lots of people to cheer you on and to see out on the course at local races. Our club has a team uniform, so it's easy to recognize club members during a race and give them a high-five or a shout out as you bike or run by each other!
So, you're a new triathlete, what do you do? Go find a local triathlon club. If you don't have one in your area, look for running groups (often running shoe stores have groups) and masters' swim teams. This is the time of year that most programs are getting started, so be on the lookout now! (If you are based in Ottawa, OTC programs open for non-members on Monday, August 25.)