As my second season as a professional triathlete comes to an end, I thought to share a few notes about what I have learned during my racing journey.
There are many changes that can happen when going pro and it really depends on how the person wants to approach their pro career. Some people qualify for their pro card and want their focus to primarily be on training/racing, while some may take it and continue their full-time work. For me, if I was going to go pro, I was going to go pro. I didn’t want to feel pulled in too many directions. I want to see how good I can get and think the best way to reach my potential is through a “full-time” dedication to the sport. When I jumped from amateur to professional, the transition to training “full-time” was gradual. I was in grad school and working multiple part-time jobs during my first year as a pro. However, I have slowly scaled back in-person work, as training, racing, and remote coaching have become more of a focus. Through this transition into racing “full pro”, here are a few things I have learned:
Imposter Syndrome is real…
Toeing the line at my first pro race I remember feeling so anxious. Particularly after covid when the races were brining in a lot of talent, each race had multiple big names on the start list. These women that I had looked up to and only seen on social media for the past 4 years, I was now right next to them. Then, racing in the World Champs 70.3 my first pro year was so nerve wracking. I qualified through a roll-down slot and didn’t feel like I truly qualified to be there. But I wasn’t going to not take it and miss the opportunity. It also gave me a goal: Auto-qualify for World Champs 70.3. Then, imposter syndrome hit again when I was offered a replacement slot to PTO Dallas this past season. Only the top 40 PTO ranked women get auto invited, and I was ranked way over that. But again, this has given me a goal to auto-qualify for these events. For me, I think this will slowly dissipate with exposure… And after talking to many pro women, I don’t feel this is an uncommon feeling.
Look beyond the next race…
During my time as an amateur, I felt every race was my “only shot” …. Only shot to what? Hell if I know. Maybe to prove myself? It led to a lot of pressure and anxiety around racing. I would be so terrified to do anything outside of swim/bike/run for fear of injuring myself doing something unnecessary before a race. Thankfully this has MUCH improved. My coach really helped with this when he said the simple phrase, “it’s just triathlon” AKA- there’s more to life than triathlon. Letting myself enjoy the little things (like hikes/walks without thinking my calves would randomly blow up) has given more joy to life around sport. There’s always another race to sign up for, and besides, it’s a sport that rewards consistency. Thinking long term sustainability will be the best method to seeing improvement anyway.
You never know what can happen in a race…
How many times have you heard someone say, “I wanted to give up so bad, but I’m glad I didn’t”. I’m guilty of using that phrase a lot. Usually, mid- bike the daunting thoughts can start to creep in and you think you’re not capable of having a good race anymore. However, every single time this has happened I have looked back at the race and been pleasantly surprised with myself. For example, perhaps I didn’t have a great race but a few women ahead of me struggled more/dropped out/ had issues, and I ended up in the money. Or the bike was going so bad but then the run legs came through nicely. The great thing about triathlon is that you can usually find something positive about a race. Maybe that something positive is a great learning experience that sets you up to improve in your next event.
Photo Credit: Thenordicaphotography
"PTO Dallas- I really wanted to start walking but ended up in top 20 with a nice pay bump." - Grace Alexander captioning the photo
Entry provided by team member Grace Alexander