Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When does a novice graduate to the next level?

I've been pondering some philosophical questions. #1) What makes an athlete an athlete? Do you have to be a professional? Experienced? An expert? Top in your field? Competitive? When I go to a race and the announcer says, "Only athletes allowed in the transition area," I feel a warm, fuzzy feeling. I feel privileged and honored to be allowed in the transition area. But are we really athletes? Why?

This brings me to question #2) When is a novice no longer a novice? I feel like a beginner because I have so much to learn, and so many goals to complete. I really am just starting out. When I see other triathletes, I am nowhere near as experienced as they are. However, I've done some triathlons, I have the equipment, and this is my 3rd season. I think I've proven that I'm committed and that this is something I love to do, but other than that, I'm still a newbie getting my feet wet. When does a person become "experienced"? After a race season? An Ironman? Is it the aerobars? The mileage? When can you say you're "seasoned"?

Just curious on your thoughts...

14 comments:

jessie_tri_mn said...

Very interesting... I actually first considered myself an "athlete" when hearing the race director at my first triathlon refer to us all as athletes. It had never crossed my mind before, but think I share your feeling when hearing it every time...

As for the novice thing, I have no idea. I have a feeling that there will always be more to learn in this sport!

Habeela said...

I don't know, about the second question. But for the first one I think you just know. One day you go out and realize "I am a runner" or "I am a swimmer"...this is who you are. And that I think is what makes you an athlete.

I'll let you know when I figure out an answer to the second question.

Cliff said...

Rachel,

I try to keep the 'newbie' mentality. I know when I consider myself as an 'athlete', my ego blows up. Learning is a never ending process. The important part is enjoying what you are doing.

Speed and time to me are almost relevant. B/c everyone races their own race and the more you do it, the better you will get.

Imagine if you learn everything there is to learn about triathlon....man..then the sport will be boring :)

Cliff said...

I still never considered myself as a triathlete..(despite the title and what not)...when someone ask me..i just tell them I like to sweat and wear spandex :D.

Chris said...

Good questions! When I hear "athlete" I typically don't associate myself with that term. I guess I want to say that an athlete is someone that is a reasonable contender for a podium spot and probably one that has a good chance of making a living doing it? If I were to say "I'm an athlete", it'd be like my describing my profession. *shrug* But I guess we are all technically folks doing athletic endeavours, so who knows. I guess it goes both ways!

When is a novice no longer a novice? I think we're all novices to a certain extent. I've read even pros talk about how much there is still to learn about the sport and how to succeed in it. I, too, am in my third season and despite a couple of Ironman's under my belt, I feel that I still have so much more to learn.

BTW, I found your blog via Greyhound's blog. I'm very jealous that you get to live and train in San Diego! One of these days, I'll end up moving back to SoCal. *sigh*

Jack said...

Good questions! First let me clarify that I haven't completed a Tri yet, so speak only from the running world. I have completed three marathons, 9 half's and lots of shorter races and still consider consider myself a novice and to be sure not an athlete. On the other side I have a coworker who has completed a marathon and a sprint-tri and thinks he's a super cool "athlete" and experienced running freak. He is young and fast and seriously "competes" in his events, whereas I am more mature (older) mid to back-of-the-pack runner that only competes against my previous times - so I guess it has a lot to do with your frame of mind.

Mon said...

It's probably a state of mind. It use to be anyone who played a sport in school, or was in track was an athlete. I think it has more to do with what you consider yourself to be.

Jenö said...

From a lurker... Great post!!! This really got me thinking, meaning that I have no idea what the answers are, just a few thoughts on the subject.

I have no idea as to when people cross into "athlete-dom"; I suppose for some it's a vocation thing and for others it's self-image. That said, I think that "people involved in athletic activity" (!) always need to some extent to remain novices, in the sense that they are always pushing into new territory (a.k.a. improving). I really like being a novice... it keeps things interesting!

Thanks again for the post!

Rachel said...

Interesting comments! I tend to agree with maintaining the "novice" mentality--it makes you realize that you're always learning. I find it funny that other people (some of you guys that commented included) think of themselves as novices, or non-athletes, while I consider them totally hard-core, seasoned, veterans. I guess we all learn from each other. It's good to be part of the "eternal-newbie" club. Makes it more fun.

Rita said...

Hmmm, I would have to say AeroBars do help, especially the mint chocolate ones. That said, I don't think I'm qualified to address any of your questions. :]

How the HECK do you get this much traffic on your site?

qcmier said...

I think you'll know when you're ready to graduate from novice. For me it was when someone I just met would ask me, of all people, for my opinions. But yes even if you no longer call yourself a newbie, there will be something new to learn.

Tammy said...

According to the dictionary, an athlete is someone who trains to compete in a sport. I was also reluctant to call myself an athlete... another remnant of the old "I can't" attitude.

We are all novices in the sport of life :)

theseamonster said...

Hmmmm, the athlete part, maybe it's once someone's made it to their first race they've trained for (and competed in it whether finished or not) ?

As for novice... maybe when we're at the point where we can assist other novices based on our own experience, we become beyond novice?

jp said...

I'll have the 'newbie' attitude forever, its not the title, its the attitude and willingness to learn that's important.

Yes, I've done a couple IM's and a couple dozen triathlons...so I'm starting to get a lot of my own experience to learn from, but it crucial to have an open mind to learn from those around you. That's one thing I love about triathlon...there's so much to learn about the 3 sports. Even if you're a great swimmer and runner....you can learn a lot about cycling, etc.