We all have a fitness bucket list (even if you haven't admitted it yet). You know there's a small voice in your head that's wondered, "Could I do that?" . Maybe it's a pole dancing class, or a Tough Mudder race, or a full-on marathon. Whatever it is, you keep coming back to it in your mind.
Is a triathlon on that list for you? Are you even a little bit curious about what it would take to swim, bike, and run your way through an epic bucket list achievement? Even if it's not, here are five reasons you can — and should! — totally do it.
1. They're Shorter Than You Think
The first thing a lot of people think about when they hear the word "triathlon" is an Ironman, which is the big daddy of all triathlons, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a cool 26.2-mile marathon to finish it out. Yeah, it's not for everyone. But really, a triathlon is a race of any distance comprised of a swim, bike, and run — and there are tons of beginner-friendly options out there.
My first tri was in Santa Barbara, CA, and consisted of a 500-yard swim (about 18 lengths in a standard-size pool), a six-mile bike ride, and a two-mile run. Not exactly the Ironman you're so afraid of. There are tons of "sprint distance" triathlons out there, and several of them — including the Santa Barbara Triathlon — even have women-only events if that appeals to you. Go to Active.com to find a sprint triathlon in your area. Sign up for it. Then do it.
2. Triathlons Are the Cure For Your Workout ADD
Get bored working out? Can't run more than a mile or two before you're thinking of everything else you'd rather be doing? One my favorite things about triathlons is that right about the time I get bored, it's time to transition into a new activity. Just when my arms start to feel like jello on the swim, it's time to hop on the bike. Just when my sit bones can't take anymore of the bike seat, it's time to hit the run course. And then when my legs feel like dead weight and I'm thoroughly spent, it's time to cross the finish line and proceed directly to brunch.
Each of the three events feel a bit like their own thing, but by the end of the race you've kind of tricked yourself into a multihour full-body workout without doing any one thing long enough to get bored. Workout ADD cured!
3. It's a Cost-Effective Workout Plan
If you're a fitness enthusiast, you know that sweating can get pricey. With boutique studio classes charging up to $30 a pop for Spin or Pilates and services like ClassPass continuing to adjust their pricing models, training for a triathlon can actually provide a cheaper alternative for staying active.
If you figure that a training plan for a sprint tri will keep you active for about four months, with the majority of that time spent running (free!) and biking (assuming you have access to a bike, also free!), you could be saving some serious cash. I borrowed a bike from a friend for my first tri and decided to invest in my own after I was sure I wanted to do more triathlons. So the main costs for me were a YMCA membership for pool access (you can also check out your local junior college or university to see if they open their swimming pool to the public), a decent pair of running shoes, and the race registration fee.
If you get hooked, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to drop some serious triathlon cash (this amazing racing suit, for example), but until then, a triathlon just might be the answer to your wallet's Soul Cycle woes.
4. Race-cation: Kill 2 Birds With 1 Triathlon
Triathlons require water, and a lot of time that water is found in the form of a lake, reservoir, or very slow-moving river. You know what else pairs nicely with large bodies of calm water? A beach chair and a drink. And guess when a comfortable chair and a cold drink have never felt better? After a triathlon. Plan your triathlon in a vacation destination so you can work hard and rest hard all in one long weekend; it's called a race-cation.
5. You Won't Ever Feel More Badass Than You Do at a Triathlon Finish Line
Your hair will still be wet from the swim, your butt will still be sore from the bike, and your legs might feel like they weigh about 500 pounds each, but your heart will be so. freaking. full when you cross that finish line. The kind of full that only comes from attempting something that feels a little impossible — but somehow a little irresistible, too — putting in the work, and seeing it through. But be forewarned, it's also the kind of full that makes you think, "I wonder what else I'm capable of?"
See you at the finish line.