Triathlon may be the most un-financially responsible ways to get into or stay in shape. According to USA Triathlon’s 2014 annual survey, the average triathlete spent over $4,000 in the past twelve months on bikes, race fees, bike equipment, footwear, nutritional supplements! Good thing the average athlete also makes over $126,000 per year.
With costs so high, why does anyone choose to participate in such a sport when there are so many other cheaper ways to exercise?
For some, it may start with catching the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on television. The event and the produced event they televise can be truly captivating and capture the imagination. Once captured, the imagination can create an aura around the sport of triathlon as a whole where people are willing to change their entire lives to achieve the goal of completing one.
Competing one then becomes a status symbol, a bragging right, to their friends and everyone they meet. There’s a saying among Ironmen (that is the longest distance triathlon consisting of a 2.2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile swim), asking how can you tell if someone is an Ironman? You don’t need to, they will tell you.
But it’s not just the super long distances that inspire. People who have finished any distance triathlon share that pride. Considering that the average age of a triathlete is 38 years old, most the athletes completing these races are people with families and full time jobs. The planning and dedication required to train for three sports while also meeting these other primary, more important needs is staggering.
Athletes will tell you that one of the best things that came out of competing and training was the increase in productivity they were able to accomplish. Training for three sports while holding down a job and a family forces you to make sure every minute counts. Eliminating unproductive time becomes a priority.
Given the scheduling demands training places on the athletes, it’s also no surprise that the sport is dominated by driven Type-A personalities. These are usually successful professionals and entering the triathlon world and regional training clubs puts you in a social circle with like minded individuals. Other than good conversation, this can provide valuable network opportunities and I’m sure is at least a partial motivation for some rookie athletes.
Although logistically challenging, training for three sports brings variety into training that many athletes either need or simply desire.
Push your personal boundaries.
If you’re comfortable you’re not growing as a person. A triathlon can test who you are as a person, putting you outside what you’re normally comfortable doing and help you grow your mental strength. The starting line alone is a test of mettle as you prepare for the gun to go off. Having done dozens of triathlons over the years, I still find it hard to line up and wait for that gun to go off but each time I do it prepares me for my next business presentation or meeting.
This is probably the number one reason people get into triathlons. They either become bored training for one sport or worse, injuries drive them into it. Training for three sports can help ease the stress training for just one sport can put on your body as the same muscles are not used every day. It can also help mentally since if you feel burned out of one sport, you can change your plan for the day and do something else. The weekly volume periodization is more important than the order so there can be some flexibility of you just feel like running two days in a row or your body is so beat up you just need to swim.
Be role model.
Training for and achieving goals can provide valuable guidance for your children. Most parenting books will agree that it’s not what you say that matters to your children, it’s what you do. Training and racing triathlons provides a valuable role model for your children that remaining health and in shape is valuable. You can’t have a healthy mind without a healthy body.
Improve your health.
The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list here. It does everything from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to improving mental resiliency. Not a day goes by that new medical research comes out with a new benefit exercise offers. Some of the more hippy-ist journals are starting to make mention that exercise should be “prescribed” by doctors because the benefit are so great (these same journals like to theorize that there is a conspiracy that it’s not because big pharma can’t make money off that).
As mentioned about, the benefits of exercise go beyond just physical benefits and reach into the mind and soul. Exercise can reduce stress, improve mood, and if you tend to have an addictive personally provide a ln outlet for that. These benefits can be so great that prescription medicines are sometimes not needed.
This is obvious given the above benefits to your health but the increased training volume normally associates with doing triathlons will help with weight loss (although you still can’t out train a poor diet). The results will be a better looking body that will make clothes fit better. Much like with your diet though, if you’re personality sucks, results of your new body on members of the opposite sex may vary.
Since you’ve been burning so much energy getting your healthier, less stressed, and sleeker body you many think you’re not going to have as much energy for other things in life. This is not the case! With increased fitness comes more energy. You’ll still need to focus on recovery and getting enough sleep but throughout the day you’ll feel energized to do more at work and with your family.
We discussed the scheduling demands that training for three sports can place on your left but once you see what can be done with your 168 hours in each week you’ll be amazed. Your new found scheduling skills will carry over into the rest of your life. Soon you’ll be accomplishing more that you ever thought possible making each minute matter. New importance will be placed on minimizing downtime and transition time. You’ll become acutely aware of each minute wasted in traffic and may even be inspired to finally look for that job closer to home that you know you should have been doing a long time ago.
Now go sign up and get out there!!