I have been doing triathlons for the past 5 years. Initially I was just ‘having a go’ with a friend, and then I got hooked! A triathlon is comprised of 3 ‘legs’ – a swim, a ride and a run. It is always done in that order, but there are different distances you can do. Over the years I have worked up from doing sprint distance races, to Olympic distance, and last year I did my first Half Ironman race.
Some of my patients have asked me if competing in triathlons is fun… and the answer is yes, in a crazy way! I enjoy the challenge of stringing 3 sports into one single race, I enjoy pushing my body to its limit to achieve a personal best time, I enjoy the atmosphere of race day, I enjoy travelling to new locations to race, and I enjoy meeting new people who enjoy doing the same crazy sport!
Triathlons are as much a mental challenge as they are a fitness challenge. In the longer distance races you are left to your own thoughts for a long time! You are not allowed to have your own music to listen to, so you have to keep yourself focused and in a positive mindset through the course of the race. Having a good support crew or triathlon club is helpful to provide support out on the course they can cheer for you and keep you going when you might be hurting a bit!
The other challenge is Mother Nature, especially when racing in Melbourne! I’ve done races in all types of conditions in the cold and rain, with choppy water, in extreme wind, and in the stinking hot! It is rare to have the perfect conditions, so at most races you just have to accept the challenge and push through!
A typical race goes something like this…
This is often done in the ocean or sometimes in a lake, and for most races you are allowed to wear a wetsuit (this helps with buoyancy, and keeps you warm). Challenges that you face during the swim are choppy conditions, getting knocked about by other swimmers, and marine life (jelly fish or sharks)! I have been in a triathlon where we were evacuated mid-swim due to a shark getting too close for comfort! Once you’ve run from the water to your spot in transition, the main struggle is getting out of your wetsuit! Then you throw on your bike shoes and helmet and run out of transition with your bike.
The main rule on the bike is that you are not allowed to ride within a certain distance of other riders this is called drafting, and if caught doing this, you end up with a time penalty. Return your bike to your spot in transition, change into runners and head off on the run.
The challenge is to get your legs cooperating after you’ve just been on a bike! Some people describe their legs as feeling dead/heavy at the start of the run. Along the run course there are drink stations I’m still trying to perfect the ‘grab-cup-and-drink-while-running’ technique without spilling it everywhere!
When I can see the finish line I always seem to have a little extra energy left to sprint to the end! I’m left with a great sense of achievement, as well as relief that it is over!
If you’ve ever considered doing a triathlon, I say have a go! There are mini distance events that are perfect for an introduction to the sport, and a lot of the triathlon clubs run beginner courses to prepare you for a race. My club runs a get-into-triathlon program which I can highly recommend –
If you’re unsure at all where to begin,
don’t hesitate to book in with myself to set up a training plan!
Written by Laura Anderson
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