I Wouldn't Be Doing A Triathlon

Recently I had a colleague who is very into cycling ask me how she can improve her running. In the past she has told me she couldn't imagine herself running, but obviously things change. While asking for some ideas on how she could improve the running side of things over the next few months she also mentioned that she would not be doing a triathlon.

I am unconvinced.

Based on my own experiences as an athlete and coach I have met many people making similar statements. Why on earth would you just throw in the line that there is no way you would do a triathlon? To me it suggests you have been thinking about it. Most of these people have ended upcompleting at least one triathlon.

It takes me back to how I got started doing this multisport thing. I had spent a year taking my distance running quite seriously when I became injured. I can't remember exactly what the injury was, but it did involve a few weeks off my feet. My sister suggested I should head down to the local pool and try some swimming. A strange concept to me. Throughout school I had done my best to avoid swimming because I basically sucked at it

I took the plunge and struggled to cover 25 metres. Now I knew this wasn't a fitness issue, since I was able to go running for three hours without a problem. It had to be a technique thing. A few textbooks, some focused effort, a bit of feedback from other swimmers and I was soon on my way to some reasonable swimming.

For a set of wheels I only had a low-end mountain bike that had only been taken out on a few occasions while I was a teenager. Still not being able to run, I decided my legs still needed some work so I just went out riding on the local trails. After riding beyond my fitness many times, my body eventually caught up to my enthusiastic route planning.

At this stage I still wasn't seriously considering entering triathlons. After all I am a runner, and this swimming and cycling thing is, well just not me. I mean, it would be cool to do a triathlon, but I couldn't do that, triathletes do triathlons. Anyway, I can't swim. Next thing I knew I had joined up with a triathlon squad, bought a new bike, entered a sprint distance race and then finished my first season with a couple of long course races under my belt. But, of course I couldn't possibly take up triathlons.

There is something about the sport that seems to take hold of people. While I used to identify myself as a runner, now I call myself a triathlete whose strength is running. As for my friend, I'll be watching with interest to see how her sporting pursuits pan out over the next year.


  1. I don't know, there are some good duathletes out there that don't do triathlons.

    She might have a fear of open water or be a really bad swimmer. OK, she can improve with squad training and coaching to the point where she's 10th last out of the water, instead of last, but will she enjoy triathlons? Maybe, if she gives it a go.

    I've done triathlons and enjoyed them, but I'm definitely not a triathlete. However, if I get injured again...

  2. Great post Jason

    I was pretty insistent I'd never do a triathlon, looked like waaaaaay too much hard work. I'm not even sure why I started swimming lessons - just because it was something I couldn't do and thought I should be able to do (a bit like why I started running). Of course the thought process tends to follow a certain pattern and before you know it you're doing a bit of cycling for cross training and that triathlon looks like something kinda cool to have a go at...

    Ah well, I'll look forward to my first one :-)

  3. The problem are that tri's are addicting. At first before starting you stand and go - "I see no logicla reason to do that"....but after doing just one - you're hooked. It's like crack for athletic people.

    Of course, the benefits are the other sport areas improve quite a bit as well.


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