by Bethany Rutledge 

It was the summer of 2008, when my husband John and I first got the inkling to tackle a sprint triathlon. More accurately, I started researching events and impulsively registering for races before I ever bought a bike or jumped into a pool for the first time!


I still remember the unbridled enthusiasm I felt for any information or discussion related to triathlon. During a time when my professional life felt like a rut, triathlon felt like something new, exciting, and special. In fact, there wasn’t an hour that passed that I didn’t think about the excitement of the upcoming race season! Much time has passed since then, almost ten years in fact, and now the lines have blurred between work and play with triathlon woven in between all of it. I will say not too much has changed as certainly it’s hard to get away from one aspect of triathlon or another for more than a few hours, but one thing that has changed is that triathlon is now so much more than MY next race.

Today, the lesson I’d like to focus on a few ways that triathlon is bigger than you and me:

Triathlon can mobilize a large group for good - Whether it’s racing with the Kyle Pease Foundation, fundraising for Lifeline Animal Project, supporting the mission of the Scott Rigsby Foundation, the Paratri Program or countless other projects our team members support on a daily basis, triathlon is a great way to bring people together to accomplish a charitable mission.


Triathlon can change individual lives - If you’re trying to change a pattern of behavior, replacing it with a new pattern of behavior can be a lot more effective than simply ‘trying to eat healthier’ or ‘trying to stop smoking. ‘ Triathlon can be a catalyst for minor change that helps you make bigger, more important changes to improve your life.

Triathlon is about connecting - Friendships have a lot to do with proximity and frequency of exposure. There’s a good chance that as a child your best friends lived on your street or played on your sports team. That kind of situation can be harder to come by as an adult! Training partners will eventually become some of your closest friends and confidantes. Triathlon is about connecting with other people, enjoying nature, and getting to know yourself better, too!


Triathlon people are a good influence- One thing about training partners is it’s easy to hang out with someone for years yet have no idea what they do for a living! But ultimately it’s true that people who are disciplined with training are motivated go-getters both on and off the field. So they’re generally both good influences and good people to know!

In future articles, I hope to explore more of the lessons both funny and serious that triathlon has taught me over the years. I hope that you will join me for more! What lessons has triathlon taught you?

Bethany Rutledge is one of the partners in both Atlanta Tri Club and Energy Lab She also runs the programming at Energy Lab and is a freelance writer, contributing regularly to the training section of Triathlete Magazine, IRONMAN, Training Peaks, and various other publications. Her certifications include USAT&F Level I Clinic, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coaching, American Council of Exercise Certified Personal Trainer, and CPR Certification. 


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