Debunking common excuses stopping you from trying a triathlon, plus techniques and advice to get you to the start line of your first race.
Whether you’re a competitive cyclist with zero swim experience or a skilled swimmer who hasn’t run a mile since high school gym class, the excuses we come up as proof of why we can’t do a triathlon are endless. But we think that these excuses are merely conversations we have with ourselves and an easy way to talk ourselves out of something we are simply scared of. So to help you get to that first start line, we are debunking the most commonly cited excuses as to why someone ‘cannot’ do a triathlon and giving you the tips you need to overcome those barriers.
‘But I can’t swim!’
Swimming is often cited as the most intimidating part of a triathlon. I mean, lurching into a lake with hundreds of other people surrounding you when you have little experience in the water? No thanks. But, the best part about swimming is that, given the right dedication and access to coaching, it is easy to improve. Hire a coach, give yourself a few months, and see your progress skyrocket. We listed our favorite strategies to doing this below.
- Hire a swim coach to help develop your swim technique;
- Join a Masters Swim Team to provide some structure and guidance around swim training;
- Commit yourself to swimming at least two days per week, no matter how short or far;
- Once you are comfortable, get out into the open water (as this is where most triathlon swims will take place).
‘I haven’t run more than a mile since high school gym class!’
Well, you ran in high school gym class so at least we know you can run!
We’re only kidding. Humans have been running since the beginning of time so, no matter what you tell yourself, you are a runner! While we may have to start slow, that is okay - at least you are starting! Talk to most pro or elite athletes and even they will tout the benefits of running slow, and how that is where they got their beginnings too.
- Start your training slow - try running one mile a few times per week (at an easy pace!), and once that feels good, start increasing the miles you run;
- Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of experienced runners - they all started as beginners too!;
- Join a running group - most groups will have different paced sub-groups, which is perfect for beginners and elites alike;
- Trust that you are a runner!
‘There is no way I can afford one of those fancy triathlon bikes.’
Okay, we will concede that the expense of triathlon can seem overwhelming. BUT, it doesn’t have to take all of your fun money! If you’re just getting into the sport, you can maximize where you invest your money - borrowing a road bike or buying a cheap used bike will work great, swim gear is incredibly cheap, and you can register for most local races for the same cost as a night out to eat. By maximizing how you allocate your money, you can then invest the bulk of your money into the things that matter most - like running shoes, comfortable aero suits, and potentially even a coach.
- Start off with a less expensive/used bike - this gives you the time to discover if you actually like the sport before investing thousands of dollars into an expensive bike;
- Invest your money in the right running shoes, comfortable training and racing gear, and a coach if you want some personalized guidance;
- Choose local races to start - they are much less expensive to register for and can oftentimes make the first race day feel less intimidating.
‘I am already so crunched for time. How the heck am I going to fit triathlon training into my schedule as well?’
There are many different distances of triathlon and luckily, you can choose the distance that best fits with your time availability. Only have 5-10 hours per week to train? You’re probably best suited for a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. Have the time (and motivation) to train 10-20 hours per week? You might want to try your hand at a half Ironman (70.3) or full Ironman (140.6)!
- Be realistic about your time - conduct an honest assessment of the time you have for training before committing to a race distance;
- Keep your motivation in mind - even though you may have lots of time, it’s important for the fire to be there too;
‘But I don’t look like all of those pro triathletes.’
The most amazing thing about triathlon is the diversity of person that races. No matter your age, shape, size or race, we are all capable of training for and completing a triathlon. Go to any major triathlon event and the broad range of people you will see is both incredible and inspiring! You don’t need to look like a pro triathlete to race a triathlon - in fact, most triathletes don’t!
- Do your best to not compare yourself to other athletes - trust your own journey;
- Embrace your differences as your strengths - every triathlete looks different, and yet they all finish triathlons;
- Remember why you started - maybe you started to go pro, or maybe you started to prove to yourself you could, but either way, it’s important to remember your why!
Well…did we convince you that you actually can do a triathlon? We hope so, and we cannot wait to see you out there!