A triathlon is truly difficult and challenging sporting event. To finish one is a great achievement. But the sight of a happy—and exhausted—finisher rarely tells the story of what leads up to a successful finish. There are some things no one tells you about triathlons, but here are 4 things you need to know:
You need to be prepared to put in a lot of training time
Unlike someone who only specializes in running, cycling, or swimming, a triathlete must be prepared to do all three. It’s not enough to schedule a few runs per week; that won’t prepare you for the swimming. Nor can you only swim laps at the pool; you have to be ready to bike as well.
As a triathlete you have to put in the time to train for all three parts of the race. This means setting aside more time for training than your average fitness enthusiast. No one finishes a triathlon easily, but those who prepare specifically for all three events finish much more easily than those who do not. The importance of preparing for all three events is something you definitely need to know about the triathlon.
You need to know about the injury risks
Injuries are a part of sport, and triathlons are no different. What is different about the triathlon is that the sources of possible injuries are multiplied. A basketball or football player generally knows what type of injuries to expect from his sport. But a triathlete can be hit from many different sides.
On any given day you might have to deal with sore shoulders and rotator cuffs from swimming, saddle sores from cycling, or knee, calf, or hamstring pain from running. You’re competing in three times as many events, which can mean three times as many injuries to watch out for. No one tells you this factor about triathlons, but it is something you need to know.
You need to know about the pain
Even if you manage to train intelligently and avoid injury, serious endurance-sport training is painful. There’s no way around it. Running, swimming, and biking for miles brings with it a lot of fatigue, muscular stress, and difficulty. If you’re looking to sign up for a soft, easy, and comfortable event, triathlon is not a good fit. Both the training and the racing demand a persistent intention to push through the pain.
You need to know about the dedication required
Like anything requiring training time, injury risk, and endurance of physical pain, the triathlon also requires a great deal of dedication and mental fortitude. Even if you’re the best conditioned athlete, you will hit bad patches in the race when you will be tempted to quit.
The deciding factor between a triathlon starter and a triathlon finisher isn’t physical conditioning. Few people show up to race without being in good shape. What separates those who only start from those who finish is mental toughness. Can you push through the difficult parts of training and the race and keep your mind on the finish line? No one tells you about this aspect of the triathlon, but you need to know.
What others have done, you can do also
Knowledge of the triathlon’s challenges shouldn’t scare you away from the event. Keep in mind that many others have finished triathlons, and they were definitely not all better athletes than you. With focus, intelligent training, and the right mindset, competing in triathlons is more than possible.
No one may have told you about these challenges of the triathlon, but you needed to know. Now you do know, and knowledge is power. Take this new-found knowledge, apply it to your preparation, and then take it to the race!