I feel badly that the way I’ve dealt with this 30 day blogging challenge of mine is to write about my workouts almost entirely, but my work is too depressing to write about and I know it bums people out. However, I know that hearing about my exercise plan, etc. is also not terribly interesting. I’ve gotten a few comments from people who talk about wishing they were as active as I am (which, really, is not that active). So I thought I’d talk a little bit about getting started with triathlon. A lot of people find it pretty intimidating, and I didn’t realize how wrong I had been about how “scary” tris were until I crossed the finish line of my first race a full forty minutes before I expected to. (They had accidentally shortened the run and bike courses, which explained some of it.)
I think for most triathletes, the process starts with running. Running is the hardest part of a tri, because it comes at the end and it is what is between you and a big slice of pizza and a long nap. And I would guess that for a lot of us, the first kernels of wanting to do a tri start when we inevitably get injured a year or two into running. For me, a foot injury that meant I could do no weight bearing exercise meant that I turned to swimming and cycling. Which meant that, just like that, by the time I was recovered, I could actually do all three elements of a sprint tri.
The next summer, I still felt intimidated, so I bought the book Slow Fat Triathlete. I love this book. It’s really helpful for anyone who is at any stage of fitness – I was in really good shape when I bought it, but it still made me feel better about things like needing to take swim lessons and feeling insecure on my bicycle. She also really dumbs it down for you and tells you what to pack and how to set up your stuff. I felt like I got all my stupid questions answered and understood how to have a good race.
I also signed up to volunteer at a local triathlon. I helped with a portion of the bike turnaround course, and it was a small local race on a Wednesday night (to this day, my biggest racing regret is not doing this race and instead chickening out and volunteering, because I could have done it.) Getting to watch what everyone wore and how they set up and how they did all of the racing stuff also helped me feel more comfortable before I started racing.
I’ve had a couple people tell me that they have felt inspired by me to do a triathlon, and I think that’s awesome. First of all, because I feel like they recognize I am not a superhuman athlete – I’m actually, seriously, just a normal person. Normal is the wrong word, but I’m slow, I’m on the heavier end of my BMI range, and I’m almost entirely motivated to exercise by my desire to sleep through the night, and maybe like, 20% my desire to eat cookies and still fit in my pants. Second, because I genuinely enjoy tri training – it’s hugely challenging for me to push myself to do these new things, and I feel like all the cross training that comes with tri training is really good for me overall and keeps me at my fittest. I feel like I’m in my best shape when I’m tri training. So getting to encourage other people to find the joy that I find in it is awesome.
If you are thinking about doing a tri this summer, I can’t recommend enough just getting out and trying to run, bike, and swim each week. If you find you actually enjoy it, then you might just be cut out for tris.