So You Want To Do A Triathlon
Maybe you have some friends who have done their first triathlon and they told you how cool it is.
Maybe you have heard that triathlons are one of the fastest growing participation sports in the county.
Maybe you have been running or biking or swimming for years and want to try to put it together with some other sports.
Maybe you want the fitness that comes from practicing three sports which when combined, exercise almost every muscle group in your body.
Whatever your reason, welcome to the multi-sport lifestyle. Welcome to the world of triathlons.
But you don't know where to start. What is your first step? That all depends on where you are now. If you are not currently actively doing any of the three sports you will have to learn how to do all three sports. On the other hand, maybe you are an expert at all three sports. You still have things to learn – things like how to go from climbing out of the water and getting onto a bike as quickly as possible. Or how to fuel and hydrate yourself for a long event in which you are going non-stop for anywhere from ninety minutes to 17 hours. Even if you know all of that, you will want to learn it all better. Everybody has something to learn.
Step One has to be to connect with people and resources that can help. The good news is that you are on a web site that exists to promote triathlons and the triathletes who participate in them. There are people in this site's membership who have done dozens of triathlons. Some have done multiple Ironman triathlons. At the other extreme, there are members who have never done a triathlon – yet. And there are a lot of us in between. Some can swim like fish - others are taking swim lessons because they can't swim two lengths of a pool. Some have qualified for and completed the most prestigious marathon - the Boston Marathons – others have to run/walk/run to complete the three miles or so that is common on a sprint triathlon.
So go ahead and complete your first step. Join this site's club. You will be networking with people who have all been where you are now – trying to figure out how to get started. And we all made it and are passionate about our sport and enjoy nothing better than sharing that passion with new triathletes. You also get tons of training opportunities. We swim together in an olympic size pool with a master's coach, we swim in a private lake to get open water practice, we run together, and we cycle together. And that is every week during most of the year. The rest of the year we keep meeting and training together in more winter-friendly ways. All that for only $25. No, not $25 a month even though it sounds like it would be worth that much. No, it is all yours for only $25 per YEAR!! So what are you waiting for!
Step Two is to pick your first triathlon. Triathlons are getting so popular that they are everywhere. Right here in Evansville, there are five per year – two indoor, one for kids, one specifically for off-road riding and running, and one regular one with two choices of distances. There are dozens within a two to three hour drive. So you will find it easy to find plenty to choose from.
But what do you look for? That is simply personal preference. Never swam in a lake before? Open water swimming is a little different than pool swimming so you might want to try an indoor triathlon first so you can get one under your belt while in your comfort zone - the pool. Some people like local events so they can sleep in their own bed and just drive there that morning, whereas some people like to make a little weekend vacation of the trip. Maybe you mountain bike and don't like to road bike – then you can look for an off-road triathlon. Again it is all personal choice and no answers are wrong.
So how are you going to pick one? What do most people look for? First, let's talk distance. Triathlons come in all kinds of distances. The common lengths are:
Note that “Ironman” is a trademarked name. You can find triathlons of half ironman and ironman distance with different names. “Powerman” is a common name for a half ironman distance.
Most people look for a sprint triathlon for their first. Fortunately sprints are the easiest ones to find so you can have a lot of them to chose from. You will be able to find whatever kind of swim you want – big lake, little lake, rivers, indoor pools, outdoor pools, and even the canals in downtown Indianapolis! You can find whatever kind of bike course you like – distances from 8 to 20 miles on flat, or rolling, or hilly roads – or trails if you are a mountain biker. You will even see a variety of runs – flat, rolling, or hilly – on roads, paved trails, sidewalks, etc. Your choice!
Step Three is now that you have found that first triathlon, you need to register for it. Most triathlons give you a discount for early registration or you can register the day before or sometimes even the day of the event. For your first one, you should register in advance. That will give you a date to aim your training at and it will give you motivation to do that training. It is all too easy to pick a triathlon a few months out, tell yourself that you will train for it and register the day of the race, only to have other things in your life get in the way and give you a million reasons to not to prepare.
Step Four is to train for that triathlon. Again the good news is that what this site is all about. And that is why you joined the club. But for now, take a lot around this site and start planning your training.
Step Five is the easy part. Do your first triathlon. You'll be nervous, don't worry about it because you are supposed to be. Everybody was nervous about their first and many of us are still nervous every time. Just imagine it is another training session with a few hundred new friends who share your new passion for the multisport livestyle. Welcome aboard.
Got all that? Here it is again in nutshell:
1. connect with resources - sign up for this club – it is only $25 per year
2. pick your triathlon – probably a sprint – ask your new friends in this club for recommendations
3. sign up for that triathlon
4. train and prepare – with your new friends in this club
5. Get 'er done! - compete in that triathlon
You made it!! You are a triathlete!! It has nice sound, doesn't it!! Most triathlons give out trophies and medals to winners and age group winners. Most also give a medal to every finisher. Wear your finisher's medal proudly because you have done something that not that many people can do. But try to take that medal off after a week – at least when you shower!