What is it about triathlons that so thoroughly enraptures the hearts and minds of those who choose to take part? To those who’ve yet to take the (literal or figurative) plunge, the prospect of training for – much less actually signing up for and competing in – such an event can be a daunting prospect. Indeed, the competition comprised of swimming, biking, and running is not an endeavor to be taken lightly, but rest assured that one needn’t be superhuman to pull it off.
“Before I completed my first IRONMAN in Coeur D’Alene in 2011, I was completely and utterly scared,” writes multiple Ironman women’s champion Sarah Piampiano in a recent ironman.com piece. “I wanted to cry on race morning and could hardly force food down my throat. More than once before the cannon went off I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do this!”
Piampino’s story is similar to that of countless triathletes from around the world in that the fears, concerns and insecurities faced by prospective novices are the exact same ones experienced by the sport’s finest competitors, regardless of age or experience. After all, they’re human, too. However, what differentiates them, what makes them champions, isn’t their level of fitness – it’s their level of commitment.
“I think one of the things that keeps all of us from following dreams or goals or things we’d like to try is fear of failure,” she said, highlighting the need to never give up.
“You will always find a reason or an excuse in the morning when you wake up before going to your physical training, why you can’t run or swim or bike that particular day,” warns Coach Francisco “Ringo” Borlain, physical fitness expert and trainer to his three triathlon-winning daughters. “But never allow that to stop you from going anyway.”
While the bulk of triathlon events are indeed solo competitions, this isn’t to say that there isn’t any room for team play, as there are several teams and clubs of triathletes that train together to improve their technique. In training as a group, the camaraderie generated by one’s teammates be as potent as if they were cheering one on every step of the way.
The internet has also begun to influence how training is conducted through digital democratization, with coaching apps, nutritional guides, and any number of blogs posting daily advice for anyone looking to learn. Even age is no barrier to completing or enjoying a triathlon, as it is a sport that can – and is – currently enjoyed by participants from ages 6 to 90.
When all is said and done, triathlons are much more than tests of endurance, they are outlets that allow one to not only express their passion for physical fitness, but to challenge oneself for a reward far more valuable than any medal: the accomplishment of a goal well-earned.
Whether your goal is to climb a podium or claim a finisher’s medal, there’s no shortage to the ever-growing number of triathlon events popping up to win the hearts of anyone willing to give it a go. So go ahead, take the plunge, and who knows, you just might fall in love with it yourself.
All it takes is the bravery – and the commitment – to try.