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Flying Through Fitness — March 27, 2012 at 6:25 am

Triathlon Straight from the Couch (Part 1: YOU Can Do This.)


Alternate post title: 5 Reasons I’m SURE you can do a triathlon!

I’m sure my husband is sick of me telling this story but after I ran my first 1/2 marathon in 2009, I was pretty sick of just running. Plain old running gets boring to me, I am not actually that great at it, and I have self-diagnosed (completely medically unconfirmed) adult onset ADD and constantly need shiny objects to distract me. That is why I love running Disney races, there’s so much cool stuff to look at. In fact, as I write this, I have 8 windows open on my computer  and at the end of every other sentence I refresh and check them. The problem has only worsened through computer usage. I blame social media. Or my obsession with it. Either way.

Anyway, I told my husband after our first half-marathon that I wanted to try a triathlon on account of my need for distractions and all. And he said, “You can’t do that.”

Well there’s not much to light a fire under my ass than someone telling me I can’t do something and so I signed up for my first sprint triathlon in the summer of 2009. (Which meant, “Watch me.”)

The race was a 1/3 mile swim, 13 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. (In hindsight, I’d have chosen one with fewer bridges — there were 4 — since there are plenty of flat sprints in Florida but that’s neither here nor there.)

My “told you so” picture which includes a nice beer.

Since then, I have gone on to do quite a few more triathlons and of varying distances, sprint, olympic and half-iron, and I have long wanted to write a post series about how anyone can do a triathlon, despite what his or her spouse or family or own head says. It’s true. If I, the non-endurance athlete non-runner can do it, anyone can.

So. This post is simply to convince you to try one because you can.

Here is simple proof.

1. First, I’ll use logic. You are probably already training for one, you just don’t know it yet.

When you are running, there is a high likelihood that you are doing some cross-training on one or two other days. Cross-training does a body good anyways. For many people, this cross-training includes spinning. For some, it’s swimming. In fact, I call triathlon training, “creative cross-training.” 

Spinning (or biking, really) is one of the other two legs of the triathlon. If you are spinning and also running, you are 2/3 of the way there. I trained almost entirely for my first sprint through spin class. See? You can do this.

But of course it was the swimming part that sort of stumped me. I knew how to swim sort of, but really it was only in the respect that was not drowning. I could go from point A to point B and NOT DROWN. That was pretty much it. There was no rhyme or reason to my swim “stroke,” hell, I didn’t even know what a stroke was or which bathing suit I should purchase for real serious swimming or any of the other accessories for that matter (do I wear a swim cap? Nose plugs? There is a wall of goggles, do I use goggles? And then once I’m in the pool, then what? Everyone will know I’m a fraud!)

And so I looked up some stuff online and found out that I did indeed need the basics: a swim cap, a bathing suit that would hold in my bits and pieces, and a pair of goggles.

Of course then once I acquired said items, I had to actually swim. And that was a whole ‘nother story. If you don’t know how to swim, I am also proof that a person can learn pretty quickly. See? You can do this.

So over the next few weeks, I’m going to go over those things here. Keep in mind, I am not a coach, I am not an age-group-winning triathlete. So you may not even care to know my advice. That’s fine.

But what I am is an average mom, once a non-runner, now a mid-to-back-pack triathlon addict who uses the sport mainly for goal-reaching and weight-loss/slash/maintenance. And I have learned a LOT.

2. So how do I know you can do a triathlon?

Because I have been on the race course with paraplegics, children, and men and women of EVERY single shape and size you can possibly think of.

In fact, in my first triathlon, I got passed on the uphill part of a bridge by a 75 year old woman who told me to keep going! True story. I passed her on the run. Booyah. Just kidding. She was awesome and if I am still doing this at 75 years old that means, well, first, I’m still living and that’s always good. But second, it would mean I am LIVING. And that’s even better.

3. Triathlon could get expensive (I’ll show you how to cut corners though) but honestly so do medical bills from not being healthy! And between the various cardio and some strength training, there is one thing I can guarantee triathlon will make you and that’s healthy. ‘Nuff said. Doing it just to be healthy is a great reason. And then you inspire other people to be healthy and live outside their boundaries. And then it becomes a giant pay-it-forward. My husband-once-naysayer does it now and loves it and has thanked me for not listening.

4. Honestly? The triathlon culture just rocks. 

Never in my life have I encountered a consistently supportive group of people who are invigorated and adrenalized by coloring outside the lines and pushing their own personal limits. I am constantly surrounded by positive, happy, endorphin-filled people, even in my triathlon group, and I love every.second. of it. You will get nothing in a triathlon besides people, complete strangers, cheering you on from the sidelines and across the finish line. It’s a sport where newbies are welcome.

5.  You learn a lot about yourself during a triathlon and while training for one and that’s part’s pretty amazing.

You know how people call the weight-loss journey a “journey?” It’s called a journey because you experience things you never expected to experience, you do things you never thought you would and you learn how to overcome adversities like your inner naysayer, which is really one of our biggest obstacles. When you cross a finish line, that finish line is symbolic of so many other things, it is very personal and only you will know how much and exactly what that finish line means. Plus, it’s a built-in goal, and everyone needs a goal.

So I’m going to leave you with the following link to my first sprint triathlon training plan, the Tri Newbies training plan. It not only has a plan, but has advice for all the equipment you’ll need to get started, which I’ll get into more over the next couple of weeks. The moral of the story? You can do this. 

Have you done a triathlon yet? What’s holding you back? And if you have done one, how did you get your start? Share your story in the comments below!

Here is the race report for my very first race.

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  1. today is my first swim of the year. (assuming they aren’t working on the locker rooms – i may sit in my sweat all afternoon, but i refuse to return to work smelling like chlorine).

    ps – my 70+ friend i met on the course beat me the first time, but i took him on our 2nd race together ;)
    brooke recently posted..Re: Cue the Fat LadyMy Profile

  2. Great post! Love me some triathlons. Would love to see more people out there!! =)
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Buzz: Does Columbia Make More Than Ski Jackets? Yes!My Profile

  3. I always tell people “I am the definition of inconsistent exerciser. If I can finish a triathlon, so can you.”

    I’m looking forward to this series!
    Thea @ It’s Me Vs. Me recently posted..Drudgery, at bestMy Profile

  4. Hi Christie… I LOVED reading this post! It was almost like reading my own story through your words. I will be competing in my first Tri this August and can’t wait! I have been running and cycling for a couple years now so that part is good but just like you, the swimming is the scary part. I start my swim training on April 16th :) I look forward to reading more of your posts and I will be posting my training experience on my blog too. Good luck to you with your upcoming tri season :)

  5. Great post! I agree. I wrote a little about it in February and again yesterday on my blog too!

  6. Pingback: Hello Fitbloggin Friends New and Old! | Average Moms Wear Capes

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