Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Post: 5 Reasons to Run a Triathlon

So there's this great group of triathletes that work out at my gym every morning. And they are always trying to get me to join them, specifically in the pool, as they know I'm not too good at swimming. Which also makes my dreams of ever competing in a triathlon fairly null and void. I'd rather take on a half marathon, to be honest. But there is a small part of me that would love (maybe) to learn the proper strokes in the pool and cross the finish line of a sprint. So when Courtney of The TriGirl Chronicles offered to write up a guest post, I asked her to share a few reasons why I (and you) should run a triathlon.

When people first hear that I run triathlons, their immediate response is always “I could never do that.” I think a lot of this has to do with the word “triathlon.” When people hear it, their first thought goes to what they know and what is mainstream—Ironman.

Each November, NBC shows the race coverage from the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and a lot of the coverage talks about the grueling physical and mental aspects. Essentially, how insanely difficult and painful it is. And that’s true, there’s nothing about covering 140.6 miles by the power of your own body in under 17 hours that won’t hurt.

But I’m not talking about Ironman. I’m talking about your local sprint triathlon. A sprint triathlon is typically a 400-800 meter swim, a 12-20 mile bike, and a 2-3.1 mile run. A race that tops out anywhere from 15-22 miles and can be completed in as little as an hour and a half to four hours time. And it’s incredible how many people can do this. Just go to a local race event and look around at the participants and you will see that the triathlon does not discriminate.

Crossing the finish line is not only the greatest feeling of accomplishment, but it will make you realize just how capable you are. And that is priceless.

So, why should you run a triathlon?

1) Fitness and Health 
The obvious, of course. A lot of people already run, swim, or bike for fun or fitness. I’m pushing two decades as a runner myself but am only on my third season of triathlon. And any of those fitness activities on their own are excellent workouts to gain fitness and get healthier. But when you’re doing all three, it’s incredible how your body reacts and transforms. When my training peaked last year, I was in the best shape of my life. And I’m looking forward to my training peak again this summer so I can feel that fit again—because it feels incredible.

2) Cross Training 
All three sports play off each other and benefit each other exponentially. Love to run? Swimming will increase your V02 max and lung capacity, so adding in swimming will actually make you a stronger runner for longer. Imagine that! Plus, by cross training, you’re less likely to have an injury. People who only do one sport (like running, for example) are more injury prone than those who mix things up regularly. And triathlon training is a giant mixed bag!

3) Bragging Rights 
Not even kidding. Telling people you’re a TRIATHLETE produces a feeling unlike any other. Their eyes pop every time. Some kid sharing my swim lane a few weeks ago asked if I wanted to race a single pool length with him. I crushed him, and then he asked if I swam competitively. I answered with, “well, sort of...I’m a triathlete.”

4) To Challenge Yourself
It’s the same reason you ran that first-ever 5k. It was a challenge. A triathlon is no different. I ran my first triathlon half on a whim. I saw a few friends I went to college and high school with run a local Iron Girl triathlon and though “If they can, I can.” And I did. Taking risks and challenging ourselves makes us stronger, more well-rounded and insightful. And constantly challenging myself to bigger or harder races makes me feel invincible in every aspect of life. Because when you succeed at a challenge you set forth for yourself, there is no better feeling. Which leads me to number five...

5. To Be Capable
I truly believe that anyone is capable of anything they set their mind to. With the right attitude and the right work ethic, anything is possible. Triathlon has taught me more about myself and everything I am able to accomplish more than anything else I’ve done in my life. The training itself can be extremely cathartic and help ease you out of the stresses of everyday life. It’s time that you have to focus on just yourself and really make yourself who and what you want to be. Triathlon has taught me that I am capable of everything I know I can be and anything I think I can't be. And that has become the most invaluable tool both mentally, emotionally, and physically to me. I appreciate it above almost anything.

So really, the next time you think to yourself that “I could never do that,” stop for a minute and truly think about it. Odds are you can absolutely do it because you can do anything if you put enough focus and determination into it. Don’t limit yourself. Dream big!

Still not convinced the triathlon is for you? Follow Courtney on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more insight.

Question: Are you a triathlete? What was your first triathlon like? Are you stronger in one event over the other?

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