At the age of 31, Lucy Fry was pretty certain she knew her limits: triathlon was not for her. But as increasing numbers of her female friends continued to sign up to tri, the fitness journalist and personal trainer couldn’t help wondering: what was it about this exhausting pursuit that women seemed to find so magical, so transformative? The time had come to find out. Here, the author of Run, Ride, Sink or Swim shares her top five tips on why you should definitely try tri…
Three times as fit (and three times less injured). Okay, so that may not be *strictly* true – who’s to say whether an athlete in one sport is any fitter than an athlete in another – but there are definitely benefits to spreading the love between swimming, cycling and running rather than doing just one of those for the same amount of time. The first is that you’re going to get fit in different ways with each discipline, using varied muscle groups and becoming well conditioned all over your body. The second is that you’ll be reducing your risk of injury in comparison to, say, just long distance running because you’re lessening the impact (swimming is non-impact for example) whilst keeping fitness levels high.
A Sense of Community
If you give some of yourself to triathlon, then it’ll be sure to give a lot back. For those of us who fancy a break from drinking buddies (or simply to meet some who prefer to sweat before they hit the beers) the triathlon world has a lot to offer. I’ve rarely met such a welcoming and helpful community as those who like jumping into freezing rivers and going for a long ride (or run) on a Sunday morning. Joining a triathlon club will help you quickly integrate into the community, and is said to be particularly effective for securing a sporty mate…
You get to buy yourself lots of toys
Everybody knows that triathlon can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be at first – you can get a basic wetsuit for around £60 and tackle some beginner level triathlons on a Boris Bike if you’re so inclined – but once you get into it, you’ll want to invest in some new gear. And hey, why not? Here’s a whole new range of brightly-coloured two-wheeled toys, sleek tri-suits and funky shoes, with which you can accessorise your summer. What’s not to love about a triathlon wardrobe?
You’ll learn lots about yourself
There’s something about endurance sport (which, even the shorter triathlons called ‘sprints’ still qualify for) that teaches us who we really are. Not during every single race, and not necessarily right at the beginning of our journey, but at some point we are faced with our limits – or what we thought were our limits – and we must choose what becomes of us in that moment. That’s the real secret of what keeps triathletes coming back for more, though the rippling swimmers’ shoulders and toned cyclists’ thighs are also enticing…
Discovering new places
According to the International Triathlon Union (2013) there are around 10,000 triathlons taking place each year around the world. That’s a whole lot of opportunity to travel with a new purpose – there’s something very special about going halfway across the world to compete in (or merely complete) a sporting event. The holiday afterwards is that much sweeter, for a start, but you also get to see the country or area you’ve chosen to visit in a whole new light. Entering an event abroad or attending a triathlon training camps are a great way to incorporate the sport into your life, and vice versa.
Run, Ride, Sink or Swim: A year in the exhilarating and addictive world of women’s triathlon, by Lucy Fry, is published by Faber & Faber.