Questions, questions: My triathlon challenge

Day one of the triathlon challenge: decide to do a triathlon. (Hurray!). Day two: stumble over a heap of questions. (Er .....).
By Carrie Snyder
Questions, questions: My triathlon challenge Getty Images

Day one of the triathlon challenge: decide to do a triathlon. (Hurray!).

Day two: stumble over a heap of questions. (Er .....).

Wow. On sober second thought, there is a great deal that I don't actually know about triathlons. I don't know what triathletes eat or wear or how often they train or — let's be brutally honest — anything at all of a practical nature. Time for a reality check.


Fortunately, there is a wealth of information at my fingertips. I go online, check out books from the library, and contact several knowledgeable friends with hypothetical questions (I'm not going public with my dream; not yet).

Research reveals that triathlons come in a variety of distances, from the Try-a-Tri to the Ironman. The Try-a-Tri ends with a 2.5-kilometre run; the Ironman with a marathon. Gulp. I decide to aim for something in between. The good news is that there are well-organized races, open to amateurs, accessible nearby. I won't have to travel to exotic locales — which would be nice, were I working with a fantasy budget, but this project has to survive in reality.

I wonder: Will this get expensive? Can I afford to train for and race in a triathlon?


I wonder: How important is the gear? I am not a material girl. I am currently riding my husband's old mountain bike, which is hooked to our bike stroller, pulling two kids behind. I suspect that won't cut it in a race.

I wonder: Could this get dangerous? I'm nervous about cycling fast on the road. I have children! I can't risk a head injury.


I wonder: Is the triathlon goal too distant? (It is too late in the season to sign up for races, even if I were remotely prepared). Should I set short-term goals and enter less-challenging running races before attempting the triathlon?

I wonder: How often do I need to work-out? And where will I find the time?

I wonder: How will I feed and fuel my body during training? Am I eating enough? Too much? Too close to exercising? Am I hydrating properly? What if I hydrate too much and have to go to the bathroom during the race? (Yes, I am getting ahead of myself. This will prove to be a theme in the early stages of my training journey).


My husband has a question, too: Will I still enjoy a beer with him after the kids are in bed? 

It's a sobering query, pointing toward a challenge I haven't really considered in depth: How will this journey change me? I hope to have time and energy to enjoy every facet of my life. But one never knows. Is it possible to train at a higher level, with greater expectations, and to continue parenting, partnering, socializing, and working (I am also a writer) in a balanced way?


There is only one way to find out: by trial and error. This could get painful.


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