Triathletes know it's tricky balancing the training and gathering all the gear needed for three sports. It requires organization and planning. We do it anyway.Why?Because it's so cool to tell people you've completed a triathlon, of course! And there's nothing like the thrill of coming through the finish line knowing how much work has gone into that moment.A more serious reason for sticking with triathlon is this: Most of us have to do something to remain active and fit. A common method is to find one activity or sport, such as running or basketball, and do that. Only that. For years.Until what? Usually until an injury develops, suddenly or over time. Then, predictably, our hero athlete can't exercise, becomes depressed and less healthy, and settles into a more sedentary lifestyle and increasingly large clothing sizes.We aren't saying triathletes don't become injured. Many do. Running injuries result from improper form or weaknesses in certain muscle groups. Bike crashes can be sport-ending and even life-threatening.The upside of the three-sport regimen, however, is that overuse injuries are less common because of rotating among the sports, more muscle groups are developed, which help prevent strains and sprains, and the training schedule builds in recovery from one sport while working on another.
Rotating the training schedule among three sports is different from running every day or exclusively swimming. One sport often builds secondary strength that complements another of the three. For example, cycling can build up core muscles from holding the body in a proper aero position on a road bike or triathlon-specific bike. Riding bent forward with a flat back parallel to the ground trains the back, neck and abdominal muscles. Having a strong core makes swimming much easier, and it significantly lessens the pounding while running.In addition, it's possible to train six or seven days per week without breaking down your muscles and joints over time. You might run on Monday and Wednesday, and swim on Tuesday and Thursday. The swimming will provide a day of no-impact training to allow your body to heal from high-impact running. The twisting and pulling motions of swimming have your body moving in different planes of motion, instead of the same forward-back, forward-back you always experience when running. And the resistance of the water can even help you spot minor strains in the knees and ankles before they become something serious.
You'll always find an argument somewhere that endurance sports are bad for your heart, bad for your knees, or bad for your schedule.Here at BeginnerTriathlete, we're of the opinion that any sport or fitness activity is better than none. There is plenty of evidence that athletes' bodies heal more quickly and are less prone to injury from everyday activity. Endurance athletes often have low blood pressure, low cholesterol and a healthy body mass index (BMI). Anything can be overdone or done improperly. That's why we have plenty of coach-advised and coach-written training plans to provide a safe path to becoming a triathlete.It's not easy. If it were, it wouldn't be much of an accomplishment. But anyone who begins is to be encouraged. Anyone who finishes deserves congratulations. And anyone who helps another triathlete, whether through providing advice or by showing up at the starting line in the wee hours of the morning with the kids in tow, has our admiration and thanks.