Why You Should Do A Triathlon.....

Yesterday at the office a statement about triathlon was made that led me to chuckle.  The statement was:  Training for a triathlon is good for you, but racing one is not.  This was a repeated statement from somebody not in the office and so I could not get a real reason as to why somebody would say this.  The best I could think was the rise in heart rate that one experiences during the race.  My only thought was isn't every sport the same way?  You get a heart rate that is elevated higher than what you experience during practice/training? So being the super sleuth that I am I went and used Google to search for the health benefits to doing a triathlon.  I came across an article from 2005 in Men's Health that was taken from the book Triathlon Training by Eric Harr.  You can see the entire article [HERE] but I pulled down the 20 reasons and left their comments but also added my own. Physical Benefits For you to consider training for and completing a triathlon, there have to be some serious, long-lasting benefits, right? Well, here they are -- 20 of them. Let's start with the most observable payoffs: what will happen to your body. You Will Lose Weight The first thing you'll probably notice as a Triathlete-in-Training is that your clothes will become too big. That's because training for such a three-sport event will make you as fit and healthy as you have ever been in your life. When you engage in a well-balanced program of swimming, cycling and running--known as cross-training -- you will burn an enormous amount of fat from every area of your body. Better yet, the weight will come off as a natural consequence of your passion-driven quest to complete a triathlon, rather than from a guilt-induced diet, a boring exercise plan or a bizarre fitness implement. Plus, you'll likely find that when you're training for such an athletic event, you'll want to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that supports your training. Overeating or indulging in lots of less-than-nutritious foods will leave you feeling dull and tired during your workouts, so you'll quickly learn to eat what's good for you -- and that will accelerate your weight loss even more. I believe that you MAY lose weight and don't think it is a guarantee that you will.  Yes you will want to eat healthier so that you can perform better but eating healthier doesn't always mean that you are eating less calories than you are burning.  If you are consuming food by the truckload even if it is vegetables you will not lose weight because of the simple math of calories in minus calories out.  You have to watch how much as well as what. You Will Look and Feel Years Younger When we neglect our bodies, imperceptibly over time we gradually accept lower standards of fitness, of health -- and therefore of living. Worse, we don't even realize how bad we feel, until we wake up and get fit again. Training for a triathlon will reconnect you with your body and make you feel like you haven't felt in years: young, energetic and powerful. And you'll not only feel years younger but you'll look better than ever, too. Triathletes are legendary for having some of the best physiques in the fitness world. That is because cross-training shapes the body in complementary ways: running develops long, lean muscles; cycling builds strength and tones your lower body; and swimming increases your flexibility and sculpts your upper body. Take a look at any triathlete over age 55 and you'll see what I mean. These people have the look -- and swagger -- of 20- and 30-somethings. I agree with this notion that you will look and feel years younger.  As a person who will turn 38 this year I have been asked for ID more often than I was when I was much younger.  I also feel younger not just in my body but in my mind.  As a kid we thought we could do anything and I feel that way again today.  My life has no more limits. You Will Have More Energy Energy forms the basis of our existence, yet it seems that we all have less and less of it as our schedules have grown increasingly hectic. Unfortunately for some people, exercise can exacerbate this problem by draining their energy rather than replenishing it. In an effort to get results or lose weight fast, they may wind up overtraining and exhausting themselves. To me there is no doubt about this.  I have far more energy today than I have ever had.  I played all kinds of sports as a kid and could be seen running from playing field to playing field.  That is how I feel today.  Are there days where getting out of bed is more difficult than others?  Absolutely, but I also know that once I get up the motor revs up and hits 100 mph and I am off and running (or swimming or cycling) and don't lose that high until the end of the day (9pm usually!) You Will Get More Out of Your Workouts In this book, I show you how to exercise more efficiently by using a few simple strategies, such as monitoring your heart rate and breathing properly. Follow these and other techniques set forth in the training program, and you'll get fast results from your workouts -- without expending a huge amount of effort. It's all about training smart, not hard. Heart rate training has been a huge benefit for me.  My workout do not include junk miles at all.  I know that each workout has a purpose and some of them are to increase speed and others endurance.  There is not enough time in the day or life to waste time and miles so I make the most out of them. You Will Injury-Proof Your Body When you stick with one sport like running, for example, you continually stress the same parts of your body -- and that can result in overuse injuries such as shinsplints, stress fractures, knee problems and tendinitis. Training for a triathlon, however, incorporates three very different sports. This cross-training, as it is called, isn't as hard on the body, because it distributes the stress more evenly to your bones and muscles and develops more balanced fitness. That means less pain, fewer injuries, and a stronger body. Or as Donna Carlysle, a mother of three from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, put it: "I like training for the triathlon because of the variety -- it strengthens every muscle in my body, and it keeps me fresher as opposed to getting all the aches when I'm just running or biking or lifting weights all the time." There is no doubt that cross-training helps relieve the stress on body parts because you are not always pounding those areas but you still have to be careful with your body.  You have to stretch and listen to your body otherwise injury will happen. You Will Improve Your Health According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and depression -- just to name a few. Follow the training program in this book, and you'll spend less time at doctors' offices and more time enjoying your life! I think this is a no brainer.  I have more energy to run around and do family things.  I don't ever visit the doctor.  We have gone over my feelings about doctors ad nausea on this blog. You Will Live Longer By preventing disease and fortifying your body, regular exercise can help you live a longer, more productive life. Training for something as complete as a triathlon lays a foundation of fitness that will ensure that your later years are more pain-free and fun filled -- so you'll not only add years to your life but you'll also add life to your years. I  guess scientifically based on the fact that your body is in great shape, you are not overweight, etc you will live longer but in the grand scheme of life nothing is guaranteed.  I can say that you will feel like you have lived longer because you are doing more and experiencing more.  You are traveling to races and traveling for training.  You get to meet great people and experience life.   Mental Benefits Although the physical payoffs of doing a triathlon are thrilling, the mental rewards you stand to reap are even greater -- because they are trulytimeless. The mental edge you'll develop by becoming a triathlete will never fade.   You Will Be More Productive Training for a triathlon will clear your mind and sharpen your focus. My most lucid and creative thoughts invariably arise during bike rides, after swims or while running with my dog Owen around the lakes of Mount Tamalpais in northern California first thing in the morning. Not only will you have these "lightbulb" moments during exercise, you'll also return to your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks that lie ahead of you. Essentially, as your body becomes stronger, your mind will follow. For me when I am out training I am my most creative.  My only issue is getting those solutions to paper and I have yet to invent the device that will allow me to record my thoughts while I am out training.  I will also so that even when I am not training I feel more creative than before I started training for marathons and triathlons. You Will Learn to Handle Stress More Effectively You will learn the profound skill of developing grace under pressure -- that is, increasing your composure as the pressure around you heightens -- as well as how to apply that skill to any stressful situation. If you can learn to "relax into" more intense physical efforts during a 45-minute run, for example, you will be more able to maintain mental equanimity during your morning commute. One of the most rewarding outcomes of my triathlon career is that few things in my daily life unsettle me. I am now more mentally resilient. You will be, too. Life throws you curveballs all the time.  I have learned how to handle stress better than ever and this has not only helped me in life but also in triathlon.  We learn to control ourselves in a transition that doesn't go right or how running across a sand transition and up a hill no longer means anything.  It just means that it has to get done. You Will Build Rock-Solid Self-Confidence To develop a strong, "in-your-bones" confidence, I believe you must achieve something that deeply challenges you. Training for and finishing a triathlon is certainly a remarkable achievement and a powerful way to build self-confidence that will last a lifetime. This was never an issue for me, ask my wife, but there is no doubt that the word limit no longer exists.  I think I can do anything anytime I want.  Is this realistic?  No, but it also means I am not afraid to try.  BDD sent a link about the Leadman 250 I believe and I immediately said I want to do this, what do I need to do to get in?  I told my coach yesterday that my goal is IMTX in May and IMAZ in November and not to forget that I am qualifying for Boston this December so we need to address training properly.  Oh, let's not forget that I have my eyes on 70.3 Longhorn in October and already registered for 70.3 Puerto Rico in March.  I will rest when they bury me. Your Mood Will Improve Research shows that exercise improves your mood and lifts your spirits. And no wonder! When you put your body in motion, you can't help but feel alive and invigorated. They don't call it "runner's high" for nothing. Plus, training for a triathlon gets you outdoors, and spending time in the beauty of nature is bound to boost your mood! Ask Lesley at Racing it Off about my mood.  It is one that is always smiling.  I can't understand being grumpy.  Yes it happens to me and may last a few hours but then I remember to just smile.  Smiling makes everything better.  If I am grumpy I make sure to say Hello to somebody or smile at them.  They will inevitably smile or say hello back and my mood immediately lifts.  Smile today! Your Motivation to Exercise Will Soar Studies on exercise adherence show that many people quit their exercise routines because they become bored or burned out. This can happen when you do the same thing day in and day out. Incorporating three different sports into your weekly exercise plan helps you to avoid burnout. When you grow tired of swimming along that godforsaken black line in your local pool, you can go for a run, a hike or a bike ride around town or through the countryside. After all, each of these activities directly contributes to your triathlon success. If I don't workout I feel sluggish, even on rest days when I know that I should not be training and that my body needs rest I feel sluggish.  I will say that my coach gave the best line when she said:  I have never regretted a workout when I was done.  If it takes a few extra minutes to get up in the morning I think of this line and I get going.  I will also say that having you (my peers) know about my training and racing leads to motivation as well.  While I do these things for myself I also feel like I owe you all something to always give it my best.  We lead by example, but I am also following you which helps me. You Will Learn to Strengthen Your Weaknesses As we age, we begin erecting physical and psychological walls, brick by brick, made of our fears, doubts and excuses. And we do it without realizing it. This wall begins to widen the distance between ourselves and our human potential. Before we know it, we're nowhere close to the person we once were -- or to the person we wanted to become. That can be a very scary realization later in life. Swimming.  Do I need to say more?  I hated swimming.  Walked the last 50 yards in the pool of my first triathlon and now I can swim 1500 meters in the open water in 31 minutes.  I can swim 1.2 miles in the open water in 34 minutes.  I love swimming now and would say that it is my 2nd best discipline behind running and ahead of cycling.   Social Benefits Whether you train for your triathlon alone or with others, you're sure to meet fellow triathletes along the way. You'll find that the camaraderie within the triathlon world is unmatched in any other sport. In addition to making new fitness friends, you stand to reap other social rewards as well. You Get to Rub Shoulders with the Best Athletes in the World In a triathlon everyone completes the same course: mother of three, 56-year-old age-group competitor, world-champion professional. That's one of the truly unique things about this sport. Can you imagine golfing alongside Tiger Woods? No way. But you can compete in the same triathlon as World Champion Ironman Tim Deboom. You may not be immediately impressed with that, but when a pro like Tim Deboom gives you a thumbs-up or a pat on the back as he goes by, you'll get chills. This is one of the reasons that I love triathlon.  I exchanged emails with Charisa Wernick last week after she posted on her blog about swimming.  Could I do that with a member of the New York Giants?  I doubt it.  This sport allows me to learn from the pros and feel closer to the pros as well as elite age groupers (like my coach) because we are experiencing the same highs and lows.  There is a camraderie. You Will Join the Fitness Elite If you complete just one triathlon, you will become one of the fitness elite no matter what your finishing time. You will have accomplished something that only one percent of the population even dare try. That puts you in more of an elite class than a Hollywood star. Now that's sure to impress your friends and coworkers, not to mention anyone you're meeting for the first time. I believe this whole-heartedly.  To me there is no other sport in the world that combines disciplines the way triathlon does and no matter what your finishing time to be able to do all three sports consecutively on the same day is incredible and you have to be in shape to do it. Inspirational Benefits Perhaps the most profound benefits of all to training for a triathlon are those you least expect. Setting out on this mission will not only shrink your waistline and give you more confidence, it will transform your life in ways you never imagined. I have had more people ask me to help them with their eating and exercise routine in the past year than in the previous 36 years of my life.  I believe I am an inspiration but only because I don't take no for an answer and I don't believe I have limits.  I think that shows other people that anything can be done if you put your mind to it and WORK HARD at it.  You have to be willing to sacrifice. You Will Have an Increased Sense of Purpose in Your Life There are times in our lives when we find ourselves unfulfilled on deep, intangible levels -- and we cannot explain why. We may have everything we want: a fulfilling career, a wonderful family, a strong network of loving friends. We just can't put our finger on our underlying restlessness. Focusing your attention on an exciting, positive and challenging goal such as a triathlon can breathe renewed purpose into your life and channel away some of that restlessness. The triathlon is a noble pursuit and an outside-the-box undertaking, and because of that people tend to wake up each morning feeling that they are on a mission. I do have an increased purpose in life and that is to be better today than I was yesterday regardless of the situation.  I want to be a better husband, a better step-father, a better employee, a better co-worker, a better triathlete.  Sometimes to my own demise though.  I push myself harder than anybody ever will.  I am self motivated and when something falls short I am also my own worst critique.  The beauty of this is that I will then push myself to be better.  I believe that I will race my next Olympic Distance triathlon and be in the 2:30 to 2:40 range.  I know I can do it and I have the work ethic to get there.  This will also show my step-son that you don't settle. You Will Become the Best You That You Can Be Are you tired of others telling you (or implying!) that you shouldn't, you can't or you won't? Daily life rarely, if ever, provides us with the opportunity to be truly courageous, to show the world what we're really made of -- and to be recognized for our own greatness. Completing a triathlon will provide you, and those around you, with physical proof that you are capable of more than anyone realizes. In this quest, pushing past what you thought was possible might be your barometer of success. For others, it might be setting a personal record. Regardless of your goals, you will glimpse your true potential by completing a triathlon. The word can't doesn't exist in my vocabulary anymore.  Anything is possible. I am going back to BDD on this but he corrected a spin instructors words so showcase CAN'T because it motivated him to push himself.  I couldn't agree more with him on this.  Tell me I can't and I will prove to you that I can.  Tell me no way, and I will show you that there is a possibility and then actually do it. You Will Be a Hero to Your Kids If your children watch you finish a triathlon, they may never look at you the same way. How do I know? My mom was a triathlete back in the formative years of the sport -- the early 1980s. At that time, people knew very little about how to train for the triathlon; trailblazers like my mom were making it up as they went along. My step-son eats vegetables.  ALL of his vegetables and asks for more.  Why?  Because he want to have muscles as big as mine.  Because he wants to run fast and run in races with my wife and I.  If that doesn't motivate you to get up in the morning than nothing will.   You Will Motivate and Inspire Those around You The courage and determination you show in pursuing a triathlon may inspire those around you to elevate their fitness and their lives--or at the very least, your quest will spark in others the possibility that they can do more. ("Hey, if this bozo can do it, surely I can!") Bringing people to that realization is a wonderful gift. Knowing that you have set an example for someone to go after their dreams or to make a positive change in their life is a reward that simply cannot be matched. No doubt about this.  My sister-in-law is training for the half-marathon in Las Vegas this year and has now started a club at her job.  She recruited 20 woman who are all participating in hiking and running.  It is a driving force and when I know I have motivated one person to get better it motivates me to seek out more people to get better. You Will Set Other Positive Things in Motion -- Things You Never Imagined I know from personal experience that training for a triathlon event can totally transform your life. In 1994, when I decided to train for my first triathlon in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the extent of my exercise was walking to the local mango stand for lunch. It took courage to register for the race, but taking that one simple step set dozens of other unforeseen, positive steps into motion. I began eating better, I had more energy and I grew more sensitized to the joys of everyday life. I was a much more passionate and giving person because I felt so good about myself. That meant I could begin giving to others more. It may sound trite, but I began racing on behalf of animal welfare -- something I likely would never have done if I hadn't pursued the triathlon. The moment you finish a triathlon, you will be astounded at the new realm of possibilities that open up to you. The only obstacles barring your way are your self-imposed excuses, fears and doubts. Overcoming them, and moving past them to where your real power dwells, is what the next chapter is about. Things I never Imagined?  How about competing in a 70.3 at all. Now I am talking about 2 this year.  How about 2 140.6 races and 2 70.3 races plus a marathon as well next year?  No I never imagined these things and now I can not imagine not doing them.   I could go on and on about the reasons to do a triathlon but I think this article summed it up pretty well.  Now stop reading this and get out there and do something.  

Why Do You Do Triathlon?  Why Aren't You Doing A Triathlon?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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