Coaching the Newbie Mom

By Caitlin Drap | Nov. 13, 2019, 2:45 p.m. (ET)

three tri moms smiling before the swim

Triathlon has gained significant popularity amongst women of all ages.  The level of competitor varies from the podium-seeking, ready-to-kill athletes to the “newbie” moms motivated to drop a few baby pounds and escape the chaos of laundry, dishes and nonstop diapers.  Having coached a variety of athletes over the years, I found the goals, motivations and perceptions of success to be quite unique in that group of rookie women—the newbie moms.

When I coached a small group of triathlon-newbie moms (ranging in ages 30-50), the 50-meter pool, high-tech cycling software, and run form evaluations were anything but intimidating. Most had never swum more than a lap in the pool, unless it was to chase a thrill-seeking child who had gone overboard, and perfected run form was entirely foreign to them, yet they were attentive and never uttered the words “I can’t.”  Instead, they practiced, took pride, and perfected. They maintained an unparalleled sense of focus and determination, all while the smell of rivaling competition was conspicuously absent.  What was most evident, however, was the innate sense to nurture and support, a refreshing change for this coach.

For these women, escaping life for a mid-morning workout and a little camaraderie was the driving force. There was no need to be faster or stronger than the person next to them. In fact, I never burdened them with advanced training terms or obscure acronyms because it wouldn’t have mattered—they were motivated by learning something new, perfecting it to their own individual standard, and by each other’s personal successes.

Their self-defined success was extremely important, and their incredible focus made it impossible for them to fail.  For the ultra-competitive athlete, success means lofty time goals and podium pictures, but for this group of moms, success was measured by becoming the best version of themselves. One woman’s ultimate goal was to be able to swim 800 meters in the pool without stopping, while another just wanted to run a few laps with efficient run form.

Most of these ladies had no desire to partake in a race when they began their journey, but as their consistency and tenacity grew, so did their physical strength and endurance. It was only a matter of time (8 weeks to be exact) before the goals of these super moms began to morph into something bigger—crossing the finish line into the loving arms of their little ones and achieving THEIR goals.  Bravo ladies!