Throughout my journey as a triathlete, I’ve learned an exceptional amount about myself. I knew that I would experience great physical changes, but I did not realize how training could have such a positive impact on my emotional wellbeing too. In addition to physical strength, I built significant mental toughness, which allowed me to go beyond my limits and push myself harder each day. Despite obstacles faced, I developed confidence in myself and realized what I’m truly capable of. I learned to silence any negative thoughts or doubts in myself and as a result, became the greatest version of myself.

With the different types of training involved, spending time alone is inevitable. However, I found this alone time to be quite therapeutic. It allowed me to better manage and cope with stress by providing the opportunity to clear my head and set personal goals for myself – I felt productive and even more motivated.

Being a triathlete is extremely fulfilling for a number of reasons and connects you with a network of individuals with inspiring stories. Each triathlete has his or her own unique reason for getting involved—some use the sport to help overcome illness, help keep them out of trouble, or remind them why they still need to fight every day. It’s uplifting and rewarding, and each individual you meet along the way will have an inspiring story or lesson to share. When I need inspiration, I think of the incredible stories of father and son duo, Dick and Rick Hoyt and the journey of Matt Long. These individuals showcase bravery, perseverance, and convey an important message: you’re capable of more than you think.

Whether you’re a pro, beginner, or anywhere in between, the amount of support you’ll feel from both friends and strangers is remarkable. On the day of, everyone comes together to root for you. Hearing the constant cheering of “you got this!” and other positive reinforcements, is a great feeling. If you’re not completely sure that triathlon is the right sport for you, volunteering is an awesome way to get involved and witness this inspiration.

A common obstacle many individuals come across is the overall cost. Frequently, I’ve been asked how I’m able to afford it. When this happens, I mentally revert back to a story I was told from a frequent customer at a triathlon shop I used to work at. This man used to buy tons of items – not to mention he had a pricey bike. One day, I asked him how he’s able to afford everything. I even asked, “doesn’t your wife want to kill you for spending this much on triathlon gear?” He simply said, “I used to be a smoker and my wife hated it, begged me to quit. I had trouble for years and one day found triathlon. The amount of money I save by not buying a pack of cigarettes or frequently visiting the doctor’s office is so much less than what I spend here. She loves that I spend money on this – she’ll take it any day over the other options I had.” These words stuck with me and reinforced the importance of investing in your mental and physical well-being. I will never shy away from spending my money on an activity I love that will keep me healthy and happy.

If you have ever thought of participating in triathlons or a different sport/fitness regimen, what’s stopping you? Start at your own pace, establish goals and work your way towards more intense training and competitions—you’ll be amazed by what you’re able to achieve when you set your mind to it. I did, and it changed my life in many ways. I have no doubt it can change yours too.