When I tell someone that I just completed my 15th year in triathlon, the usual response is “Wow, that’s amazing – I could never do that!” My first response is, why not? The fact is, just about anyone, no matter their personal limitations, can do a triathlon.
If you’re unfamiliar with the sport of triathlon, let’s clarify one important fact: triathlon is not just Ironman™ (otherwise known as Iron-distance triathlon.) When you think of triathlon, do you picture that infamous video of a woman (her name was Julie Moss) collapsing then crawling across the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship in 1982? (If you’ve never seen this, watch it here – it’s amazing.)
In fact, only a small percentage of the 4.04 million people in the U.S. who participated in triathlons in 2017 [source: Statista.com] completed an Iron-distance event. Instead, they raced the sprint, Olympic, and long-course distances. These races are more readily available, affordable, and realistic from both a training and performance perspective – but are just as empowering and rewarding.
Triathlon is all about making the most of each person’s uniqueness, no matter one’s size, shape, or abilities. Short or tall, lean or heavy, young or “wise” – there’s a place for everyone in this sport. I’ve raced with athletes who also happened to be quadriplegics, double amputees, and visually impaired. I’ve cheered on grand masters athletes in their 80’s, and 12-year-old kids.
If there’s one key truth about triathlon, it’s that there is no standard. No matter what your body type or fitness level, you can complete a triathlon. You don’t need the latest and greatest equipment; you needn’t quit your job to train for it. Ultimately, the only thing you need is the desire and the commitment, minimal equipment, and of course, some training and knowledgeable guidance.
Triathlon will dramatically improve your overall physical fitness. But even more importantly, it will transform you in so many other ways. True achievement comes from the will to become your best version of yourself.
Never discount what you are capable of, and never assume something is impossible!