Just the word ‘Triathlon’ strikes fear into the hearts of single-sport athletes everywhere—and plenty of other people, too. The multi-faceted race is typically associated with tons of equipment, complicated courses and 70.3 miles of physical activity (and that's only the half).
Among the sports involved, everyone has a dreaded activity, be it running, cycling or swimming and the sheer task of training for each of the parts can be daunting. The fusion of three activities in one race may turn people away from competing but, for us, the challenge is just another reason to love triathlons.
It’s not hard to see how these races might be intimidating, but overcoming initial fear is just one of the things you can be proud of at the finish line. And if you decide not to race, triathlon training will still provide all of the following benefits.
1. Triathlon training will help you become a well-rounded athlete. Every sport has its own advantages, but no one sport is perfect. Most athletes supplement their training with a variety of activities to see additional benefits. When training for a triathlon it’s a good idea to fit in some strength training and variety, but simply by swimming, cycling and running you’ll be getting your whole body in shape. Professional Triathlete Sarah Piampiano fits in either yoga or Pilates at least once a week to increase strength and flexibility.
2. You’ll be less prone to stress injury. High impact sports take a toll on the body. Runners often face knee and ankle issues, in addition to the well-known shin splints and many weight lifters suffer shoulder injuries. Triathlon training is all about variety, switching it up will take some of the pressure off muscles, joints and bones.
3. Training is customizable. Don’t feel like getting in the water today? You can get a workout on your bike or go for a run. Training for a triathlon can afford you daily choice in training and that means you're less likely to get bored or plateau.
4. You can be as ambitious as you like. Triathlons are not one-size-fits-all; there are five different race lengths. The sprint triathlon is the shortest, totaling just 16 miles and they go all the way up to 140.6 miles, which is a full triathlon. Even if you never sign up for a race, setting a goal of completing a sprint triathlon on your own could be a great milestone in your training.
5. You’ll gain a better understanding of how your body works (and what it can handle). Between getting a feel for body mechanics in all three mediums and actually pushing yourself to your limits, triathlon training can shed light on some things you should know about yourself.
6. It’s more than just a physical challenge. Piampiano described it best in her Q&A.
Part of the reason why I love triathlons so much is that it challenges me in a way I have not been challenged before. I could go out and run a marathon, but I know that I’m a good runner. So, yeah, there would be the challenge to try to go and get faster but I think—and I think a lot of people feel this way—you’re going to have some type of strength. Like somebody might be a good runner, but they might be like me, terrified of swimming. You’re forced to pair something you feel really comfortable and good at with something that you feel uncomfortable and not-so-good at. In addition to challenging ourselves physically, there’s a real emotional and mental element to facing that fear. So for me, every time I do a triathlon, or even just going to swim practice, I feel like I am pushing myself to face something that kind of scares me a little bit. I think for a lot of people that’s why a triathlon ends up being such a rewarding thing. I think the reward ends up being a lot greater.
7. The triathlon community is amazingly supportive. A common suggestion to beginners in any sport is to find some experts and train with them. If you’re looking to start training, track down a local group, chances are they’ll be happy to help you out. “There’s such a strong sense of community in triathlon, your success is their success, so finding a good group will really help,” said Piampiano.