~ By Coach Zach Adams
- “Oh I could never.”
- “I would drown.“
- “I can’t swim/bike/run.”
- “What are you crazy?”
- “I don’t have time.”
- “[insert other ‘what an absurd and preposterous idea’ excuses here]”
- or maybe you’re thinking a combination of them all: “Oh I could never. I would drown; I can’t swim. Are you crazy? That is the most absurd and preposterous thing I have ever heard!”.
To which I say: “Yes you can. No, you won’t. Quite possibly, yes. And you haven’t been paying attention to politics lately.”
I am a walking, talking billboard for the sport of triathlon. Perhaps an infomercial is a better analogy: “But wait, there’s more!” So let me share with you MY top 5 reasons that YOU should do a triathlon.
1) Triathlons Are Fun!
First and foremost, they are fun. The races themselves, the training, the learning, the adventure, and the sense of accomplishment.
It. Is. Fun.
There really is nothing like the day of a race: from the pre-race butterflies to those “finish line feels”. A race, no matter the distance, is an emotional rollercoaster of excitement, euphoria, and accomplishment (ok, sometimes some panic, which makes that sense of accomplishment even greater).
But seriously, if you want to go see people having fun, go watch a triathlon. Stand at the finish line and see the smiles and the spectators cheering the finishers on. Observe the other finishers cheering the incoming finishers on, and watch two unrelated finishers share a hug or high five as they cross the finish line.
There is something about spending the day with up to 3000 of your closest friends. It is magical. It is inspiring. It is FUN!
Which brings me to reason number two: Friendship, Community and Camaraderie
2) Friendship, Community, & Camaraderie
I was not using hyperbole before when I said you are going to race with up to 3000 of your closest friends. While triathlon is a “race”, all of us out there are just racing themselves. I’ve never competed in another sport where I have run past somebody and they cheer me on and tell me: “You’ve got this. Go get’em! Looking strong!”
There is the community and camaraderie outside of race day as well. There are triathlon clubs in almost every location, formal and informal. We have gatherings at 5 a.m. at the watering hole to swim, and at 5 p.m. at the other watering hole to share training stories. Friendships are forged through these gatherings.
I have made friends through triathlon that I never would have made otherwise. My life has been indelibly enriched through the tri community. I love my tribe!
Speaking of tribes and community, it is not uncommon for these relationships to transcend the sport, even beyond friendship. Recently when a fellow coach passed away, the tri community rallied to the support of his family, another example of how the tri community is an extended family.
One of the best perks of the sport? It is healthy! There are very few hobbies out there that have so many physical and mental benefits as triathlon.
Want to make sure you get in your World Health Organization recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week? Train for a triathlon, and my bet is you will exceed that most weeks (and sometimes in a single day!). Indeed, the sport is marked by stories of athletes who have lost incredible amounts of weight, or who have used triathlon as a vessel to battle tough diseases and overcome other physical and mental challenges.
Your mental fitness will improve too! Your mental fortitude will be tested as you grow in the sport and you push beyond your (self-imposed) limits. To push your body to do what your brain thinks it cannot requires a lot of Jedi-like mind tricks (that are fun to learn in their own right). This kind of mental resiliency through exercises is proving to help stave off late in life ailments like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, each of the 3 sports has its own unique physical demands and skills. Learning these skills and how to adapt to the physical demands is not only fun (see reason #1), and will not only help develop a stronger body and mind, it is also a whole other challenge that represents its own adventure (reason #4).
They say that triathletes are people who decided one sport is not hard enough! That is the truth because triathletes are people seeking adventure. There is something magical about doing something you have never done before, about learning something entirely new.
There is nothing quite like accomplishing something for the first time. And then, doing it better and better. The journey is enriching and unending!
When you first start triathlon, EVERYTHING is new, and this is just the start of the adventure. Paraphrasing one of my athletes, waking up and seeing what workout you have in store for the day is like waking up on Christmas morning. It is like opening a gift, with all the same excitement and uncertainty of what is in store.
Because as you do your workouts, you are going to push yourself, and you are going to do things that sound impossible right now, and that you never would have imagined yourself doing. It could be running a mile, or two or 100! Or it could be swimming to the other end of the pool, to the other end of the lake, or around the island. Or it could be cycling five, fifty, or 500 miles.
Every workout, every race, your continuous development is an adventure.
Maybe the fun, camaraderie, healthy living, and adventure aren’t what you are all about. Maybe you live to compete. Lucky you. You can compete on so many levels.
First, I am talking about self-competition, about “beating” yourself, about pushing yourself to be your best, to give your best, and then be better than what your best was. This is what the crux of triathlon is all about.
There’s also the gold medal winning, podium placing, national championship type of competition. You can compete locally and qualify to compete at the National Championships, and potentially even represent Team USA at the World Championships. Also, did you know there are college teams, and even professional triathlon leagues? The level at which you choose to compete doesn’t matter, but every time you zip up for a training session or race, make no mistake, you are competing.
Still not convinced that you should do a triathlon? Yes. I know I said it would only be 5 points, but I couldn’t keep it to 5. Perhaps the best reason you should do a triathlon is…
6) Because You Can
If there is one infallible truth in all of this, it is that you can do a triathlon. Seriously. YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
You don’t need to be in perfect shape. You don’t need to look like an Olympian. There is no one perfect body size, shape, or type. I have seen athletes tall and skinny to short and stocky and everything in between. I have seen athletic bodies and finishers who have said they don’t have an athletic bone in their body (boy were they wrong!). I have seen people with one leg, no legs, one arm, no arms, combinations thereof, and people with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and cancer finish a triathlon. You are not too old or too young to do a triathlon. There are triathletes in their early teens and into their eighties.
All you need to do a triathlon is the desire to do so: the desire to have fun, make some friends, get/stay healthy, go on an adventure, and be your best self. So, next time someone asks you to do a triathlon, take them up on the offer, it just might change your life!
Ready to take the next step? check out www.mytimetotri.com or our articles here on this site for a ton of good resources. If you are interested in one-to-one coaching (virtual or local) or a personalized performance training plan, contact us!