Runner-Triathlete-Trail Runner The Evolution

I’m noticing a trend in the running/fitness community and *cough* my life and that is how runners go on to become triathletes only to give it all up and run relatively slow on trails for a really long time. But I also get why this happens both in terms of the body and the vibe of those races. Do you have to follow this trajectory? No but it’s okay and lot of fun if you do. If you’ve noticed the same trend (or not) I’m here to explain it to you this week. One aspect for sure it that doing a new race distance presents a new challenge and so if you’re the type to keep striving that’s certainly part of it. Plus the earlier you start the more races you’re likely to hit. Of course some ADD is also a factor. In case you’re wondering I might be in the running to triathlon transition period. But along the way I’ll point out some things to keep in mind if you find yourself on this cycle.

Starting running

There are a few reasons you’re likely to try running. It might be to loose a bit of weight, after a health scare, to get fit, the cute outfits or you might have someone like me in your life encouraging you to give it a try. Whatever the reason you might love it at first or not. But the thing is you don’t have to stick with it for long before you start to make big progress pretty fast. For whatever reason you started and what reason you fall in love, you are now hooked on running. Since you’re not the only runner out there you’ll start to make new running friends or talking about running with the a friend you already have. You’ll become aware that some runners sign up for races and pay good money for the privilege. You might think that’s nuts at first but eventually someone or something will convince you to give it a try.

OMG – racing is so cool

Even as you’re standing in line for that first race you might still think it’s nuts. Why did you do this? Why did you pay for this? But since you did … just do it and go home! But then something happens you go way faster in the crowd then you do on your own, you pass a few people even and that feels great! At the end you even get a medal and you’re hooked. You go home and register for a ton more races just like that one. Then some longer ones before you know it you’re training for a half marathon and then maybe even a full! Medal storage becomes an issue in your life and what are you ever going to do with all those race shirts? I’m making a quilt to nap under after my races. This is a great stage embrace it and love it!

Getting bored of injured from running

Running is great, really great but it’s still kinda boring. The first time you train to cover a new distance it’s exciting, new. You’re full of doubt and lots of workouts are things you have literally never done before. But the 5th time you train for a half using that proven plan that works for you it does get monotonous, a little boring and well just a little sucky. You do the same distances, the same races over and over and it’s still good but not so great anymore.

At some point you might even get injured and realize how much that sucks. As you’re upping your distance and spending all that time running overtraining injuries start to happen. Then they happen again, then you get a different one. Getting injured for a recreational racing runner is heartbreaking in a way that is both dramatic and very real for that runner. What usually pushes them into checking out triathlon is one nagging persistent injury that just keeps sidelining you. When that happens you cross to the dark side and start triathloning.

Triathlon is so cool + cross training for running

So now you’re onto sport number two and three but you’re only taking a break from running right? All that forced cross training you’ll be injury free and running marathons again next season right? You dig out your old bike or track one down, practice your swimming or even grab a lesson or two plus this let’s you keep running at least sometimes. In fact all of the things you are doing keep your mind off your injury and it is really getting better. Mixing it up a bit turns out to be lots of run and you start recovering all those seemingly repressed memories of fun bike rides you had as a kid. Plus you get to go shopping for some new kit and who doesn’t like that?

You live through your first race, probably a  try-a-tri or a sprint and eventually deal with the fact you didn’t get a medal and it turns out to be pretty cool. It turns out there is a distance ladder to climb up here too. Sprint to olympic, half iron and ironman if you’re a real keener. Pretty soon you’re hardly signing up for road races anymore and it’s all about the tri now. 

Running is only a third of what I do

Being a triathlete is pretty bada$$ after all, plus more varied instagram content. Being that tough starts to become part of your identity. The intensity of the sport might also appeal to you if you’re competitive and have deep pockets. Swim-bike-run is you’re life and now you might even scoff mildly at those that ‘only run’!

All I do is triathlon stuff and it’s expensive

The distances ramp up fast in triathlon a Sprint is a lot like a half despite the name and the olympic is somewhere between the half and a full. You now own a fancy road bike, multiple sets of wheels and that needs to be repaired regularly. Wetsuits in various lengths and thicknesses, aero bars, potentially more bathing suits than underwear and yeah a pair of shoes or two. Pretty much no one at the start line is chill and some of the super intense stuff about the culture gets to you a bit. All of the organizing, working out, driving to the pool, shopping and the need to a tri suit isn’t the greatest either. Since there are way fewer races further apart and between you might be traveling more for races and that could be eating up all your vacation time. All this is expensive, very, very time consuming and just a little bit exhausting. While runners rarely cop to how fast they are, sometimes just do a race for fun and no one seems o take it that seriously. Almost not such thing at triathlons and you kinda miss encouraging the newbies. Plus it might turn out that you love running the most after all. 

It’s time to simplify and enjoy

After a while you might just want to chill and stay injury free and leave all that intensity behind. I haven’t gotten here quite yet but the culture around trail running is generally one in just completing the race and the slow and fast are equally celebrated. The soft surfaces are nice to your body and those ultras, there is definitely accomplishment in that!

Have you noticed this trend too in the people you follow or are you also like me heading down the stage scale. Where about are you on it and are these the reasons you did?

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