A triathlon is a multiple sport event involving the completion of three sequential endurance disciplines (swimming, biking and running). Triathlon in the United States has its roots set in Southern California and can be traced back to 1974. The early races were held in San Diego’s Mission Bay where a group of friends (runners, swimmers and cyclists) began training together, and before long training sessions turned into formal races. The first triathlon was held on September 25, 1974 and it welcomed 46 athletes. The sport reached its ultimate goal in 2000, in which it was finally included in the Olympic Program at Sydney, Australia. In 2012, USA Triathlon – the National Governing Body for triathlon reached 550,446 members (annual and one-day memberships). Today, triathlon races vary in distance but the most common distances are:

  Swim (mile) Bike (mile) Run (mile)
Sprint Distance .2-.62 5-18 3.1
Intermediate “Olympic” Distance .93 24.8 6.2
Half Ironman “70.3” 1.2 56 13.1
Full Ironman “140.6” 2.4 112 26.2

I have been competing in triathlons for the last 3 years but I had yet to venture past the Olympic distance. I began my journey to completing a half ironman 6 months ago on January 1, 2013. In preparation for my 70.3 race at the end of June, I have swam 54 miles, biked 1,278 miles and ran 490 miles. I started competing in triathlons because I was looking for a physical challenge. Little did I know that the sport required just as much physical strength as it did mental strength. There have been many times over the years, during training and even during races where I have thought to myself, “Why am I doing this?” and “I can’t go on, this is too hard.” However, as an athlete I have learned that very little compares to the reward for enduring and making it through a physically and mentally challenging experience that pushes you to new limits. One of the greatest feelings is when you glance at who you once were and realize the new heights you have accomplished and the self imposed limits you have passed. I often use the following tips in my own training and during races to help me when times get tough and negative thoughts start creeping in:

  • When you come across a quote that motivates you, write it down. I have a quote that I wear on my RoadID that motivates me “Never Give Up!”
  • Have a support team. I often have family come to my races and cheer me on. It gives me a boost of motivation when I see them cheering for me.
  • Break the race up into smaller segments. During the run segment I often think about getting to the next aid station and not the miles I have to go.
  • Remember that training is about learning and testing yourself and that racing is a chance to celebrate the hard work you’ve accomplished. I push my limits in training so I am prepared if things go wrong during a race.
  • And…Smile!

There are triathlon clubs in almost every major city and thousands of races are held every year across the world! Challenge yourself…sign up for one and Give it a Tri!