Doing Your First Triathlon

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As adults, it's really common for us — tempting, even — to fall into the same routine day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year … you get the picture. We're creatures of habit, after all. Before we know it, one day, we seem to have a moment where we "wake up" and wonder where time has gone and why we haven't seemed to progress in our career, our relationships, our personal lives, and for many of us, our health and fitness.

Particularly if you are a busy adult — which, let's admit, most of us are! — it seems that we often put our own health and fitness goals on the back burner, the place on our to-do list that we'll eventually get to when we figure out how to derive a 25th hour out of each day. We know that we can't expect to grow as humans if we don't challenge ourselves, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we also can't realize our potential if we don't take care of ourselves — which is why developing (and maintaining) some type of regular health and fitness routine is so important.

We're nearing the end of the calendar year, so naturally, many of us will begin to take stock of our lives and figure out our goals for 2017. If you're one of the many adults out there who have neglected taking care of their personal health and fitness in 2016 (or for most of your adult life), let 2017 be the year where you finally take the lead and really take care of yourself from the inside out. Challenge yourself like you never have before. Think about all the ways that you could be taking better care of yourself. Dream big. Attempt the impossible. Give yourself a chance, and minimally, at least give yourself the opportunity to try.

Speaking of try, why not give tris, triathlons, a go in 2017? Sounds kinda crazy, right? Hear me out for a second, though. Even if you've never done one before or don't even know where to begin, training and competing in triathlons may be more fun than you realize and will help give you some structure and guidelines to your health and fitness goals. Below, I'll list some tips to help jump-start your triathlon journey.

Do your research . Before you commit to a triathlon, do your homework and immerse yourself in the triathlon literature out there at your local library and online. Learn more about the three-sport event (swimming, cycling, running), and find out what distances are available (sprint, Olympic, ITU long, half Ironman, Ironman). At this point in your journey, you don't yet know what you don't know, so taking the time to read up on the sport will really behoove you.

Go to a store that specializes in triathlon. Going to a store that specializes in triathlon may seem overwhelming at first — there's so much stuff! — but it can be a great foray for you into the new world you'll soon be entering. Browse around, take notes, and pick up the free literature that's advertising local tri events and tri training clubs. You may be overwhelmed, but you'll get an idea about what this new-to-you sport entails, and it'll help you ask questions later, leading me to my next point…

Connect with triathletes in your community or online. Talking to others more knowledgeable and experienced than you, and asking questions, even if you feel like they're "stupid," is a great way for you to learn more about the sport and its idiosyncrasies. Everyone was a newbie at one point or another, so don't be shy! Learn from other people's experiences. Find out which tri races are good for first-timers, and see if local triathletes in your community have any recommendations for coaches or training groups. Before you know it, you'll soon be on the other side, helping out newbie triathletes, so let people help you! Triathletes love to talk triathlon to anyone who will listen, so let them!

Join a local tri training group/enlist a coach. When was the last time you tried something new? It has probably been a while, right? When you last tried doing something for the first time, you probably weren't incredibly successful right off the bat. More likely than not, there was a learning curve involved. With this in mind, then, it can be a really great idea — if not also a sound investment — to fork over some cash and join a local tri training club and enlist the guidance of a triathlon-specific coach. By doing so, you'll be surrounding yourself with other athletes with similar goals, and you'll also be immersing yourself in a sea of tri-specific wisdom and expertise, which will be invaluable to you on your tri journey. You ultimately want to arrive to your starting line trained and injury-free, and a tri coach and a tri training group can help get you there.

Practice, practice, practice . Heeding the training instructions that you'll receive from your training group and coach will obviously serve you well throughout your training over the next several months. You'll likely find that you'll be pushed more physically and mentally than you have been in years — which is good! — so remember to be open to the experience. Every day you "practice" your three sports, you'll be putting a little bit into your training "bank" from where you'll be able to "draw" come race day. As time wears on, you'll get experience practicing everything — the actual sports, themselves, of course, but also what you'll wear (no race-day wardrobe malfunctions for you!), your race-day nutrition, your transitions between sports, basically anything and everything. Remember that even in the thick of training, each day presents an opportunity for you to "practice" your craft so that on race day, you're ready to rumble, and the smile that you'll have plastered across your face in your finishing line pictures will be unrivaled.

You may likely find that training for and completing your first triathlon is a life-changing experience, and who knows? You may even decide that triathlon is a new-found hobby of yours and decide to stick with it to see how much you can improve each season. What matters most, though, is that you at least give yourself the opportunity to try — no pun intended — because it'll be when you get outside your comfort zone that you see how much you can (physically and mentally) grow as a person.

Contributed by: Dan Chabert

Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an ultramarathon distance runner. He also owns the websites, & He has been featured on runner blogs all over the world. Dan believes in sharing the knowledge to people.

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