Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

5 lessons we learned while training for our first triathlon

By Jacque Wilson and Matt Sloane, CNN
September 6, 2013 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
From left: Rae Timme, trainer Mary Kane, Annette Miller, Tabitha McMahon, Stacy Mantooth and Douglas Mogle.
From left: Rae Timme, trainer Mary Kane, Annette Miller, Tabitha McMahon, Stacy Mantooth and Douglas Mogle.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Fit Nation team is in Malibu, California, to race their first triathlon
  • The group reflects on some of the lessons they've learned during training
  • These lessons apply to all areas of their lives -- and can help you, too

Editor's note: Six CNN viewers were selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook as they train to race the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on September 8.

(CNN) -- With less than 48 hours to go before our Fit Nation team tackles its first triathlon in Malibu, California, we asked them to reflect on the past nine months of training. Here are the top five lessons they learned:

Like riding a bike, sometimes in life you just have to let go.

Learning to ride the bike was the toughest challenge I had on this journey. Every ride I had until the midway trip in Florida was full of fear and white knuckles. I couldn't make myself lay off the brakes coming down hills, so it made it very hard to climb back up. But on the midway trip, Coach April got inside my head and heart. During a bike ride, she said, "I want you to know you deserve this -- all the time and work you've put into this. It's worth it; all you have to do is let go and take it."

Like braking on a bike, I was holding on too tightly to people, words and situations that had hurt me and to worries about things I have absolutely no control over.

So write down everything you are holding on to that is preventing you from living the life you deserve. You aren't writing them down to dwell on them; you are writing them down to get them out of your heart and off your mind.

Here's mine: "I am not defined by the scars of my past. It is up to me to define who I am now and who I will become. The only person I can save is myself. When I find it difficult to accept what I have no control over, I will let go and trust in God to guide me."

-- Annette Miller

Giving up is not an option.

Life is never going to stop. The ups and downs of being a human being on God's green Earth are going to continue whether we like it or not. Both honeymoons and valleys are undoubtedly going to greet you along the way.

Don't get me wrong; being on the Fit Nation team has been an awesome experience. But it has also proved to be much harder than I ever expected. I've fallen so many times, and in so many ways, yet I'm not giving up on my goal of crossing the finish line in Malibu.

Whether it's mental or physical, remind yourself that giving up is not an option. Getting to the finish line, regardless of your race, may not be pretty or perfect, but I promise that you'll get there. Just keep picking yourself up when you fall.

-- Douglas Mogle

You can't go wrong following your passion.

Little did I know how triathlon training would permeate my life. I didn't notice it at first; I was too preoccupied with anxiety and fear about the journey upon which I was embarking. Still mired in self-doubt and comparing myself to those around me, I was worried that I wouldn't be enough. Fast enough. Strong enough. Disciplined enough.

But little by little, my attitude shifted. Physical feats I didn't think possible became daily routines. Incrementally, my body and my mind became stronger. I became comfortable in my imperfect body, realizing its value lies not in how others view it or the clothes I use to dress it but rather in the places it can take me.

Others noticed this change too. Friends, family and co-workers remarked that I looked good, looked healthy, looked happy. And I was all of those things and more.

I imagine the same happens when an artist picks up a paintbrush, a dancer learns her first moves or a writer finishes a manuscript. The pleasure in following your heart and working hard to achieve a goal you see so vividly is infectious. Whether it's sport, art, music or any number of things, you can't go wrong with following your passion. You'll soon find your inner joy burning so brightly that others will be drawn to your light.

-- Tabitha McMahon

Keep moving forward.

During the first few weeks, I was completely overwhelmed -- from making time to work out to improving my diet to learning how to operate the new electronic devices we used to track our mileage. So many times, I wondered if I was in over my head and if I really had what it was going to take to do a triathlon in nine short months. Luckily, all I had to do was look at my right wrist, where a silver band with the words "Keep moving forward" reminded me that I didn't need to conquer everything at once; I just needed to take one small step in the right direction in order to keep moving toward my goal.

It is hard for me to put into words how much strength and determination this simple mantra provides me with each and every day. As I have dealt with tragedies, emergencies and the everyday ups and downs of life, it reminded me that a simple step, no matter how small forward, meant I was moving in the right direction.

This time next week, the event that I have trained for and looked forward to since January will be a memory. My fears and anxiety have been replaced with pride and excitement.

I know that for the rest of my life, I will continue to keep moving forward, one step at a time.

-- Rae Timme

Invite others into your world

The reason I am here, feeling well-prepared to start and finish in Malibu, is because of the incredible support I've gotten from my teammates, my family, my friends and even strangers who have followed my progress.

If I had attempted this triathlon thing on my own, I'm not sure that I would have made it. In fact, I know I would have stopped swimming out of pure frustration. But the encouragement and advice that everyone has given to me has carried me through to this point.

We think of triathlon as an individual pursuit, and we do run the races alone. But we didn't get to those races alone. We got there as a team.

My team has carried me through, and I'm proud to say that because of all of you, I am ready to be a triathlete. My most import lesson I've learned is to invite people into your world, allow them to become part of your journey and accept their shoulder for support when you need it. They'll help you achieve your goals.

-- Stacy Mantooth

Follow @CNNFitNation on Twitter and Facebook

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT