When most people think about triathlons, one of the first thing they think of, are those extraordinary images of ironman athletes fainting at the finish line after swimming, biking and running continuously for over 12 hours. Regular folks immediately rule it out as a sport reserved for a rare breed of elite athletes and never look back, not knowing that there is a lot more to triathlon than this.
Had you told me 2 years ago that I would be doing triathlons in 2012 I would have called you out on your shenanigans. Back in 2010 I was a hefty 190 lbs couch potato. In the summer of 2011 I got myself a bicycle, read about multisport and picked up running and swimming. By the New Year I was down to 150 lbs and felt more physically and mentally stronger than ever before. For my first season, I completed 2 triathlons and ran a half-marathon.
If you are looking for a new challenge, trying out a tri might just be for you. You will get fitter, feel better and meet awesome people all at the same time. To start off in this adventure, you will only need some kind of swim wear, a pair of running shoes and a bike. You don’t need the latest generation tri bike, any bike will do. Many people race on hybrids or mountain bikes. I have even witnessed a gentlemen competing on one of Montreal’s bikeshare program bike at a tri I raced this year.
Let’s talk about distance. For someone like me, who had no fitness base, I would highly recommend searching your area for a Sprint distance event. The swim is 700m, the bike is 20km and the run is a 5k. You can find a lot of free training plans on the internet for this distance but generally training 4 to 5 hours a week for a few months will get you through the finish line of your first Sprint triathlon.
Next up is the Olympic tri. At double the Sprint distance (1.5k swim, 40km bike and 10k run) this is starting to become a serious distance. As the name implies, this is the distance that is covered at the summer Olympics. While some novice will choose this distance for their first events, a careful preparation will be required to successfully complete the event. Hiring a coach might also be beneficial if your budget allows it.
After that we enter the world of long distance events. The half-ironman (1.9k swim, 90k bike and 21.1k run) and full ironman (3.9k swim, 180k bike, 42.2k run) is truly the holy grail of most long distance triathletes. While some will choose these distances as their first events, it is not recommended. The training regimen for such distance is very strict. Get a feel for your body on shorter events first, like a sprint or Olympic and once you feel that you have mastered those distances you will be ready to move up the ladder.
Running you first race is an incredible experience and should you choose to try a tri, you will always remember that day as an unforgettable experience. You’ll also get the bragging rights to say you completed a triathlon, something that you might have not envisioned possible just a few months ago.
I hope I was able to give you a little bit of the taste for racing a triathlon and should we cross paths at an event in the future, don’t be a stranger, come and say hello!