By: Coach Laura Bruck Renzelman

Triathlon Coach, Lifelong Endurance
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
USA- Triathlon Level 1 Coach

Being a beginner is a gift. Embrace it and lean into it.

Wait, what? Isn’t the goal to improve, gain skill and mastery? We all love to excel and we strive to get to a point where we find our flow. However, a big part of the process of mastery is the beginning. 


I want to share a personal experience with being a beginner. I’ve spent many years as a triathlete, and I feel pretty comfortable and confident swimming, biking and running. When I moved to Colorado 3.5 years ago, I decided to try mountain biking. The first year I tried mountain biking, I HATED it. Riding downhill fast on twisty, narrow trails, over rocks and stumps scared the hell out of me.  I will admit I threw a few temper tantrums after some crashes and decided that mountain biking wasn’t for me. I convinced myself I didn’t want to get injured because then I couldn’t compete in triathlons. However, the reality was that deep down it felt really uncomfortable to be bad at something. Fast forward to 2020. 2020 was the year I never knew I needed. With no races in sight, I craved a challenge and decided to try mountain biking again. While I had no new skills to bring to the game, my mindset had done a 180. I went into it the second time around open to being a beginner, letting go of expectations and comparisons with where I thought I should be or with anyone else. It was a sense of freedom I’ve never experienced. I leaned into the fear and uncertainty and found those boundaries I had put up during my previous attempts had come down. I took quite a few tumbles this year, but instead of fearing the crashes I embraced them as part of the process and a badge of honor that represented getting out there and trying again, and again, and again. 

The reality was that deep down it felt really uncomfortable to be bad at something

This mindset shift has come in handy as I have gotten back to structured training this winter as well.  After barely swimming over the summer and fall (I have to admit I was having way too much fun mountain biking), I have committed to getting back in the pool. With so much time away from the water, some days it feels as if I’m starting at square one. In years past, I probably would have been hard on myself, comparing my current swim paces with what I can swim when I’ve been swimming regularly. However, this year I’m embracing the beginner mindset and taking each week as it comes and celebrating the small gains in swim fitness I can make with 1-2 swims per week. It’s been a refreshing and positive change.  

Embracing the mindset of being a beginner can take many forms. For some it can mean trying something completely new, for others it’s adding a new element to your routine, or it can also mean getting back into something after a break. The thing that connects these all is uncertainty with what lay ahead and not being the best, and those can be scary and uncomfortable. But there’s a huge power in embracing the mindset of a beginner.

Being a beginner keeps you humble and makes you more empathetic to those who are also starting their journey. 

Here are my big takeaways with embracing the beginner mindset:  

  • Being a beginner keeps you humble and makes you more empathetic to those who are also starting their journey. 
  • Being a beginner gets you out of your comfort zone. 
  • As a beginner, you can let go of expectations and comparisons.
  • Trying something new gives you the opportunity to find something that lights a fire and brings you joy. 
  • New experiences give you a rush of the reward chemical dopamine and helps the brain build new connections between neurons.