Ever thought about doing a Triathlon? Me neither, until I won entry to the Gatorade Series in Melbourne just two months before race day. I’ve always considered myself a “fit” person; regularly going to the gym, doing yoga, and always keen for an outdoor adventure, but this surprise Triathlon introduced me to a whole new world of health, happiness, and well-being that I never even knew existed!
For someone who hadn’t done any formal swimming (other than frolicking at the beach) since early high school, and who hadn’t ridden a bicycle since childhood, the idea of training and competing in three sports at once both excited and terrified me. My training consisted of riding a friend’s mountain bike a few laps around the park, dabbling in the ocean and local pool a few times, and jogging along the foreshore when the weather was nice. Race day came around faster than I expected, and before I knew it I was lining up at the start line next to 30-odd other females ready to plunge into the cold ocean waters of Elwood.
What I learnt and discovered about myself was inspiring, and I was hooked! Here are five reasons why everyone should do a Triathlon at least once in their lives.
1. Challenge yourself
Three sports, one race. Sounds crazy, huh? Well it kinda is...and it kinda becomes addictive. I couldn’t remember the last time I had properly swam or ridden a bike, so to say that training for my first Tri whilst also juggling work and graduating university was challenging is an understatement, but the challenge is what I fell in love with.
Challenges encourage us to bring our best to the table and lay ourselves on the line. We have two options; either step up to the challenge, give it a good crack, and learn from it, or dismiss it, shy away from it, and stay where you are. The simple challenge of finding the right balance between training the three sports, versus training in the gym, versus finding work, life and family balance, plus getting adequate sleep and rest and recovery teaches you valuable lessons about yourself and your priorities in life.
All the sweat, blisters, aches and pains, bruises, pins and needles, early mornings and long days are worth it for that sense of accomplishment and victory you get when you cross that finish line. For someone who struggled to run just 2km at the start of her Triathlon journey, this sport has seen me grow so much both physically and mentally, and I’m all the better for it!
2. Try something new
I had never even considered competing in a Triathlon before I won the entry to my first race, but once my mind was opened up to the idea of a three-sport competition, I fell in love with the idea. Although I did consider myself to be fit and healthy, it didn’t take me long to realise though that you can be “fit” within your own sporting dimensions and completely “unfit” in others. But what better way to explore your own abilities, push your own limits, and improve yourself than by trying something new, foreign, and uncomfortable.
When I tell people that I am training for a Triathlon, I typically get one of two answers; “Oh that’s awesome, what are the distances”, or “Oh I could never do that!”. Truth is, how do you know you could never do something if you never even try! I won’t lie, before my first Tri I too thought that I would never be able to do it, but it turns out I can, and it turns out I enjoyed it, and it turns out I want to do more! I turned my own disbelief into determination, and discovered new limits and passions that bring out the best in me every single day!
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people
There’s no doubt that being surrounded by happy and positive people makes you feel happy and positive yourself. Let’s face it, good vibes rub off.
The energy at a Triathlon race is intoxicating, and it’s difficult not to get tipsy off all of the endorphins (and all the sweat!). There’s a great feeling of excitement and determination, mixed with a little nervousness, and you know that every single competitor there shares the same passion for health, fitness, and pushing their limits just as you do. It’s difficult not to feel uplifted and empowered!
I remember looking around on race day, and although I was absolutely terrified, I thought to myself, ‘I could get used to this. These are my kind of people’. After all, if you’re going to push your body to the limits and strive for your ultimate best, you may as well do it around people who 100% understand where you’re coming from and share the same passion (rather than those who just think you’re ‘crazy’)!
4. Get outdoors
We all know that exercise releases endorphins, and so why not maximise that times 100 and do it outdoors. Training so hard that you feel like breakfast may come back up again is totally more romantic when it’s paired with blue skies, sunshine, and a beachside view!
I’m a big fan of Mother Nature and her healing and therapeutic effects, and even just a powerwalk outside can uplift your spirit and re-charge your batteries. So just when you’re feeling down in the slumps and would rather sit on the couch and eat an entire packet of Oreos (which are coincidentally Vegan!), why not take a walk or a ride or a jog outside and work on your physical and mental health at once! An added bonus is that no two training sessions will ever be the same when you train outdoors. Rain, wind, sunshine, waves…they all bring a different element to your workout. An unplanned head wind during your cycle session…bonus resistance training! Hills and inclines on your run…bonus intensity training! And if all else fails and the skies open up and you absolutely can’t train outside, there’s always indoor pools, treadmills, and bikes to keep you on track (that means no excuses!).
5. Improve your well-being
There’s no doubt that training and competing in three different sports concurrently is going to help you improve your physical game. It’d be hard not to improve your physical fitness, but the emotional and mental benefits are just as valuable. As we’ve already discussed, we know that physical exercise releases endorphins, and so training is beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
Whilst working towards an awesome goal that, let’s face it, many people wouldn’t ever dream of doing, you can also relieve stress, meet new people, learn new skills, discover new places, and push new limits. When you’re accomplishing goals, and continually improving yourself, kicking goals and improving yourself, it can become a positive loop cycle. You train hard, you feel good about yourself, and you reach new goals. Then repeat!
Training for and competing in a Triathlon is so much more than just swim, bike, and run. It’s a challenge that sees you grow as an individual as you are tested both physically and mentally. Personally, I never even knew that I enjoyed swimming, riding, and running this much before I accidentally won entry into my first ever Triathlon.
Looking back, it’s evident that I loved my race and quickly became addicted, but I have no doubt that even if the race got the better of me and I decided that Triathlons weren’t for me, I still learnt so many valuable lessons through my training and competition.
If you’ve ever considered a Triathlon, or even if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a shot one-day. There’s a race for everyone, so whether you’re already an athlete looking for a new challenge, or just beginning your health and well-being journey, it’s not difficult to find the right one for you. Whether you’re there to compete against others, or just to compete against yourself, just give it a go! You just might surprise yourself! And in the retrospective words of myself post race one, “I can’t wait to do it again!”.