If you’ve been running (or hanging around runners) for more than a few months, chances are good that one of the following things has already happened:
- Someone you know has talked about a triathlon
- Someone you know has done a triathlon
- Someone has suggested that you do a triathlon
- You’ve told someone who has suggested that you do a triathlon that you can’t because you can’t swim, you don’t have a bike, you barely have time to run or you are too slow.
There are a million reasons you can give yourself for why you shouldn’t attempt a triathlon, some of which might actually have some merit to them at the time. However, as the Official Salty Running Multisport Enabler, I’m here to tell you why those excuses are no good here. I’m here to tell you that you, yes YOU, can and should train for a triathlon.
Excuse #1: I can’t swim. This is one of those “valid excuses,” since if you can’t swim you’re certainly going to have some trouble with the first leg of a tri. However, just because you can’t swim today doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to swim 2, 4, or 6 months from now. Check your gym, YMCA, or local triathlon club or shop for information on lessons. You don’t have to be a great swimmer to do your first tri – you just have to be able to cover 400-800 yards somehow. (Doggy paddle and, in shallow water, walking, are 100% acceptable.)
Excuse #2: I don’t have a bike/Tri bikes are too expensive. Maybe you do all your cycling in spin class and haven’t owned an actual bike in 10 or 20 years. Perhaps you thought about buying a new bike, but then just wept when you saw the price (especially if you went directly to looking at triathlon bikes). Here’s the thing: unless you know for a fact that you enjoy cycling and will get a significant amount of use out of a road or triathlon bike, it’s not worth buying a new one. Ask around to see if anyone you know has a bike you can borrow, or check Craigslist for a screamin’ deal on an old beater bike. It doesn’t need to be fancy – it just needs to have two wheels. That means mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers, and commuters are all perfectly fine. I promise, you will not be the only person there who doesn’t have a fancy triathlon bike with the carbon fiber and aerobars.
Excuse #3: I don’t have time to train for a triathlon. How much time do you spend running? Odds are good that if you run most days of the week, you have time to train for a sprint triathlon. Replace one run day with a bike ride and another one with a swim and you’re there. Really, if you have a passing familiarity with how to swim and ride a bike, you just might be able to get through a sprint event without any specific training.
Excuse #4: I’m too slow. Much like running, triathlon has become an everyman sport. The community is incredibly welcoming of beginners and if you’ve done more than a few 5ks, you probably won’t finish last. Even if you do, the wave start of most tris will make it impossible to tell, since there may be people faster than you who finish after you do, because they started long after you did. If you’re really concerned, pick a race aimed at beginners for your first one to give yourself a bit of an edge. As an example, Danskin sponsors women’s triathlons across the country that consist largely of first-timers.
Excuse #5: Don’t those things take like 15 hours? I could never do that! You’re thinking of an Iron-distance triathlon, which is the Big Daddy Race of the sport. Yes, those races can take 12 or 15 or 18 hours, but you don’t have to start there. There are plenty of shorter distance events, like sprints and super-sprints, that you’ll be able to finish in less than 2 hours.
Have you thought about doing a triathlon? What’s stopping you from giving it a shot?