Do you want to feel fitter, look leaner, see new places and make new friends simultaneously? The answer is a triathlon, believes Lucy Fry
The alchemy of putting the three triathlon disciplines together (swimming, cycling and running) in monthly training schedules that seems to work wonders on both brain and body. Regular endorphins boost mood and triathlon, being a multi-discipline sport, promotes psychological toughness, as well as a big calorie burn. So, why should you try a tri?
Torch fat fast
The intensity of triathlon training, where three disciplines have to be practiced almost every week, means that you’ll be a lean, mean, triathlon machine in no time with muscular thighs and calves, buff swimmers’ shoulders and a brawny cyclists’ bottom.
Build mental strength
The transitions in triathlon (where you switch from swimming to cycling and cycling to running) will require you to be determined and robust. The longer triathlon distances can be particularly gruelling too, requiring you to develop mental skills (mantras, visualisations, positive self-talk) to reach the finish line.
Even the most dedicated gym-goer will need to get outdoors if they are serious about triathlon training. In particular, cycling longer distances will encourage you to find new routes and get out in the countryside, and for races with an open water swimming component you’ll need to practise, at least a few times, in a lake or the sea.
Provided you don’t expect every training week to be perfect and you allow yourself enough rest, being part of such a varied and social sport can be exceptionally good for reducing stress. All that fresh air gives a sense of perspective and swimming in particular can be great for inducing a flow state, a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi which is now better known as ‘being in the zone’.
Reduce injury risk
Spreading the training load across different disciplines involving different movement patterns cuts down your risk of picking up those pesky niggles and injuries that come from excess repetition. This means that the muscle groups used for each type of exercise get more rest between workouts.
Running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs and.., triathlon clubs! They’re all available to you now that you’re a triathlete and many races have social areas to relax in afterwards.
It’s not cheap but, if you let it, triathlon can take you all over the world. Set your sights on racing in one of the most stunning parts of the world. Alcatraz in San Francisco, Alpe D’huez in France and Blenheim Palace in UK are just a few iconic ones.
Sense of purpose
Triathlon is more than a sport, it’s an experience and a lifestyle choice. It’s also known for adding discipline and routine to one’s life. For some it offers something deeper – a sense of purpose and meaning, particularly during difficult life stages or transitions.