It is so hard believe that I am now entering my second pro year. Where does the time go? As I have been mentally regrouping for official ironman training blocks to start again, I have been taking a look at what went well, and what didn’t go so well, last year. In an effort to try to help others, as well as remain transparent about the industry, I came up with a few lessons I learned last year. As I hope to avoid the “sophmore slump” of racing, this served as just as good a reminder for myself than anyone else!
- Just say “No” to bangs. They are absolutely impossible to wear well when you train a billion hours and shower 3 times a day. It’s simply not an efficient haircut. One day in 15 years you can have all the bangs you want: that day is not today.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to potential sponsors! Don’t take this too overboard, of course. But, if you’re lucky, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a few sponsors this year. Make sure you read what you’re signing, you understand it, and, most importantly, that you find value in it. If you can’t read it and figure out quickly the immediate benefit for you as an athlete, maybe it’s time to take a second look. Yes, you have to “start at the bottom” with sponsor relationships– but make sure what you’re getting into is ground level – not underground. If you aren’t really getting anything out of the contract – ASK FOR IT! Why not? After all, nothing minus nothing, is actually just still nothing.
- Be a sponge. I used to tell new hires this tidbit at every job I had when I was asked to mentor someone. There was only one person I can remember who didn’t take this to heart, and people wanted him out of the company before his first day was over. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Sit back, relax, and listen. I promise you all the other “seasoned” pros will ask all the silly questions you can even dream of in the pro meeting. Just by sitting back and listening you will appear confident and knowledgeable. By being all up in everyone’s business and/or a know-it-all, people will want you out of the company before your first day is up. And they probably won’t be shy about blogging or tweeting about it, either. Get ready, because everything you do is now fair game for the internet.
- Get ready to enter a pretty intimidating “Girls Club.” Without fail you’ll feel left out at some point. You’ll finally work up the courage to crack a joke to someone only to find out the reason she’s not included in the other discussions either is because she doesn’t speak English. It doesn’t mean you don’t belong, it just means people don’t know you yet. Give it time, they will eventually. I’ll always remember when Beth Shutt made the effort to give me a hug the morning of my first pro race, making me feel like I belonged – I hope I have an opportunity to do the same for someone one day!
- You’re probably going to lose. A bunch. Finish every race you start no matter how embarrassing you think it will be. Because actually, it’s not that embarrassing since just about every other girl out there has been in your running shoes. Do what you need to do to finish the race – you won’t regret it.
- Get hungry. Put something on the line for your your triathlon career. You can tell in a race who is racing because they’re hungry for it – be that athlete. Treat it like more than your hobby.
- Have fun. You are doing this because you’re young and YOLO! Obviously 🙂 But seriously, there are a ton of women out there who want to be in your shoes. We are competing in a time when women still are fighting for equality (#50womentokona) in the sport. Be proud to be a female athlete, and do what you can to inspire young girls to participate in triathlon. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go.
- But seriously, don’t get bangs.