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The Top Three Excuses Not to Do a Triathlon (and Why You Should Ignore Them)

By Patrick Griffith

I have competed in triathlons for 8 years now and in my time of doing so, I have heard every excuse in the book about why friends and family “can’t do a triathlon”. I’m here to tell you that just about anyone has the physical capabilities to do a triathlon. That’s right. Even those who only dust off the cardio cobwebs every few weeks. While there are many excuses not to do a triathlon, I will go over the top 3 that I hear consistently and the various ways to navigate around them.

I am a Land Mammal

Swimming can be a daunting exercise for those who have never had any skill swimming experience. Sure, many of us have had the “chicken—airplane—soldier” swim lessons as a kid, (that’s how they teach a basic backstroke if that phrase isn’t familiar to you) but swimming for an extended period of time, no way. But just like getting in the gym, you have to start somewhere.

There are swim professionals that can help adults and kids learn proper swim technique and even coaches that focus on triathletes specifically. In fact, there are even some right here at Life Time.

What many people often don’t understand is that the swim is typically only one-tenth of any triathlon distance race. So even if it takes awhile to master your stroke, it is helpful to know that the struggle will be over quickly.

Besides, you’re made of about 70% water anyway. Don’t let the fear of what you’re made of be an excuse for not doing a triathlon!

Who knows? You may even find it relaxing as a perfect, low-impact supplement to other higher-impact training programs.

I Only Run if I Am Being Chased

I often get asked, “What do you think about when you run for hours — don’t you get bored?” Many avid gym goers avoid the treadmill like the plague; that black, polyurethane belt slowly dragging along minute after minute. I admit that at times a treadmill can be boring. Luckily running can be much more than imitating a hamster on a really big wheel.

There are a number of ways new runners can get on the endorphin train. You might try running with a group, getting into nature or practicing interval training.

Don’t believe me? Try one of the Life Time running groups or ask a running friend to join you sometime. Group runs can be just as much fun as a Friday night with friends, especially when the runner’s high starts kicking in.

Getting out on the trails is one of my favorite workout sessions. The primal feeling of running on the dirt and through the trees can really help you get back to your roots. Speaking of roots, watch out, tripping on the trail loses you cool points.

Whether you’re pounding the pavement or treadmill in solitude or in good company, don’t knock it until you try every avenue.

I Don’t Have the Time to Train

Surprise! This one is among the top four excuses people give for not exercising — and as it turns out, it’s not that great of an excuse!

Despite what people think, the vast majority of triathlete’s have multiple commitments outside of their sport such as family, work, and school. It all comes down to effective time management and the right training plan.

Many have misconceptions about the variety of distances available for a triathlon. There really are a lot of options to fit any time constraints on your training program.

For beginners, I recommend a sprint distance triathlon. This consists of a ¼ mile swim, 10-15-mile bike, and a 5-kilometer run. This type of race requires approximately 1 hour of training 5-6 days a week.

Which, coincidentally, is about half of the average time people spend watching TV each week.

There are many variations in the volume and intensities that it takes to complete triathlons. So before you say you don’t have enough time, think again. Start small and build up to big.

How much TV (or other time-wasting things) are you willing to trade to be more healthy and more competitive?

Run, Swim, and Bike!

A triathlon can be a grueling, intense, brutal race that lasts hours.

Or it can be a fun, centering, hour-long endeavor that helps you move to the next level in your fitness journey.

Whether you’re a land mammal who doesn’t care for the water, a foot-dragger who only runs if chased, or flat out think you don’t have the time, I encourage you to give triathlon training a shot, even if it is just a check off your bucket list.

You may discover that starting small finds you growing webbed feet, enjoying a good run and discovering time you didn’t know you had.

Who knows? When you’re out of excuses, you could be the next Ironman…or Ironwoman.

It could happen.

For more answers about getting started on your first or next triathlon, ask your club about your local TEAM TRI coach. Also, for info on coaching, camps, clinics, training videos and more, check out Life Time Endurance.


The posts on this blog are not intended to suggest or recommend the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease, nor to substitute for medical treatment, nor to be an alternative to medical advice. The use of the suggestions and recommendations on this blog post is at the choice and risk of the reader.
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