Triathlons: why do I keep doing them?

Triathletes at the start of a race

Seventeen years of training for triathlons

I did my first triathlon in 2007: this season, 2024, is my seventeenth year of competing in this enjoyable sport. It’s a type of cross-fitness: the swimming, cycling and running complement each other, so that you can train most days of the week, yet you don’t overstrain yourself, because you use different muscles and joints in each discipline.
Why do I do it? I started on my triathlon career because I thought that I needed to exercise, for good physical and mental health. It was just part of trying to be a healthy human being.

As time has passed, I realise that it’s more than just this: I actually enjoy doing it.

What’s fun about training for triathlons?

Just as there’s no point in dieting to lose weight (Read “Just Eat It” by Laura Thomas to learn more about intuitive eating), there’s little point in exercising hard just to be healthy (Read this article by Shannon Pallus). More importantly, we all want to enjoy life, and I’ve discovered that regular triathlon-style exercise helps me to live my own best life. I love the escape of going for a long run, the meditative calm of swimming and the exhileration of a cycle spin through the local countryside.

Key components: a good coach and an active local triathlon club

  • My coach Eamonn Tilley (from ETSports) makes sure that I keep up to date with a basic level of fitness without overdoing it: around sixty minutes of training each morning, five days a week, spread across swim, bike, run and strength/conditioning.
  • My local triathlon club, Wicklow Tri, provides a solid and welcoming community of like-minded amateur triathletes which is a big part of the enjoyment of taking part in an activity like this.

I’ve eased off on the amount of competing that I do: in the past, I did up to ten events in a season. COVID stopped the momentum, and these days, two or three races a year are enough to keep me happy.

My first race of this year is coming up soon

In just over two weeks time, on Saturday 6th July, I will be doing my first triathlon of the season: one of my regular favourites, the Two Provinces Triathlon in Lanesboro, Co Longford. I’ve done this four times before, in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019.
This race ticks many boxes for me.

  • It’s just two hours drive from my home: an easily manageable day trip yet it still gives me a sense of going far out into the Irish countryside for a day
  • It’s an enjoyable course: easy-ish, warm-ish lake swim, lovely undulating mostly flat bike course with enough gentle hills to allow me to overtake a few others if I happen to be having a good day, and the run is along a pleasant forest path, then a quiet private road, with no serious hills to stress me out.
  • There’s superb after-race care. on-site massages for all finishers, tasty healthful hot meals for everyone, and friendly hosts keeping everything up-beat and cheerful.
  • It’s well organised and there’s always a relaxed, mellow vibe. I have long term happy recollections of the event, and I always look forwards to going back for more.

If you’d like to compete in this race, registrations are open till this coming Sunday, 23rd June. Or if you would like to just come along and watch, to find out what triathlons are all about, please do come along on Saturday 6th July.

Spectators are always welcome, and who knows, you might be inspired to give it a go yourself?

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