#TRI4ALL: Our 4 part series aiming to make triathlon more inclusive and accessible, for everyone.
Let’s get straight to the point, no, of course you don’t need to race to enjoy lots of the benefits of triathlon.
Some of the best bits of triathloning (yeah that’s a word now) are nothing to do with racing.
Long solo runs for head space. Group training sessions chatting with buddies. Pushing each other on during a hard track session. Exploring somewhere new on the bike. The satisfaction of ticking off a 6am swim session. Noticing yourself being able to go faster/further.
None of these require you to enter a race or even have a race that you are training for.
Believe it or not you can simply train for the love of training! (side note: you’ll get less kudos and likes)
Triathlon training is also a great way to cross-train for individual sports. You’ll minimise injury risk and the fitness crossover between sports helps you achieve a greater volume, that you might not be able to handle doing just running for example. Why train for just one sport when you can enjoy the variety of three?
A nice alternative to racing…
At the time of writing we are in the middle (well hopefully past the middle) of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite a few of our athletes are doing their own solo events/challenges in place of cancelled events.
This is a great option. Its free for starters, you can pick the best weather day to do it, and only invite the people you like.
It could be running a solo marathon, doing your own 5k/parkrun effort, or a full triathlon. Or literally anything else.
Your solo event/challenge doesn’t even have to match a certain distance or race. It’s always confused me why so many races try hard to be an exact ‘triathlon’ distance when the race would be much more fun/natural if it just followed a logical local route around the course. Who cares if the run is 5km or 6.5km. Its not like you can really compare a time on one course to another anyway.
Plan an epic point-to-point cycle. Run to your parents’ house. Try to climb a hill on your bike you don’t think you can do. Swim the length of a lake. Plan a multi-day adventure. Make your own triathlon up. It could be random distances, it could be off road, it doesn’t even have to be in the right order.
But wait, don’t I have to become an IRONMAN?
No. No you don’t.
There is a weird vibe in triathlon that once you’ve done a sprint, you do a standard distance, then you have to do a Half Ironman, then you must do a Full Ironman to become a fully-fledged official triathlon Ironman person.
Well, I’m here to tell you this isn’t the case.
In fact, I’m going to argue that doing a super-fast sprint or standard distance triathlon is just as much of a challenge as doing an Ironman (which is just essentially a long eating contest…kidding…kind of)
Stepping up to do long distance is great, and certainly something that if you want to do, then you definitely should. But don’t feel pressured to do it, or feel you are any less of an athlete/triathlete if you don’t. You do you, as they say.
Also, long distance training requires more training hours (generally) and a lot more energy. This might not fit in with everyone’s lives (work, family etc). It’s definitely worth considering how much training time you have available and what that time would be best suited to training for.
Ironman training often remind me of this sign…
I’m never sure if relationships fail during Ironman training because of Ironman training, of if the person started Ironman training to get away from their significant other in the first-place ha!
Either way, I’ve seen a lot of it over the years.
Find a nice balance of training and racing (or not racing!) that works for you.
Soz. Got side-tracked there. Back to the main point…
Of course, you can race triathlon, you can do Ironman, and these are awesome and the main reason most people do the sport. But you definitely don’t have to. Race or don’t race, the choice is yours. But certainly don’t let it stop you getting involved in the sport.
Personally, I’d love to see triathlon head in a direction where more people create their own challenges, try different event formats, and support small, local, unique races!