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Should You Try a Tri?

This Saturday marks the fourth racing of the Ironman 70.3 Boise triathlon. Starting at Lucky Peak and ending in downtown Boise, this race challenges competitors to 70.3 total miles of swimming, cycling, and running through some of Idaho’s beautiful yet grueling landscapes. If you’ve never been, the event is a ton of fun for spectators, but the most fun is really had by the competitors. Even if you’re not ready to tackle 70.3 miles, that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at the booming sport of triathlon.

People have been racing in triathlons since the early 1900s. The races consist of three portions – swimming, cycling, and running, in that order – with transition areas in between. Racers are divided between professional and amateur (a.k.a. all of us) athletes, then further divided by gender and age group. But what really makes triathlons accessible to the Every Man is the distance; whether you want to go short or long, there’s a triathlon to suit your goals.

There are six basic types of triathlons:

Super Sprint – .25 mile – 6.2 miles – 1.5 miles
Sprint – .47 mile – 12.4 miles – 3.1 miles
Standard or “Olympic” – .93 mile – 24.8 miles – 6.2 miles
Long course or “half Ironman” – 1.2 miles – 56 miles – 13.1 miles
Ultra course or full “Ironman” – 2.4 miles – 112 miles – 26.2 miles
IronKids Race distances vary with age group

Regardless of which triathlon distance you choose, training for a triathlon has a major advantage over training for other single-discipline races – that is, built in cross-training (rather than spending all your time only swimming or only cycling or only running). People who limit themselves to one exercise, regardless of what it is, risk burnout and overuse injury, and although that is still a possibility for triathletes who train too hard or do too much, too soon, your muscles and tendons will get a more balanced conditioning with the activity variety.

There is a lot of gear available for triathletes, but don’t think you have to purchase a bunch of expensive equipment. In fact, you really only need four things to get started:

• A swimsuit specific to the type of water you’ll be swimming in (fresh vs. chlorinated water)
• Well-fitting goggles
• A bike (preferably one that is the correct frame size so you can ride comfortably)
• Running shoes

If you want to learn more about training for a triathlon or to find a list of local races, visit www.beginnertriathlete.com. Don’t hesitate to try a tri – they’re fit fun at its best! Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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