Many people begin the sport of Triathlon with Kona in mind. But it is important to understand that Kona is not simple task. At one of the most recent iron distance races 33% of the participants DNF’d. Many didn’t start, even more didn’t finish the swim, and then the rest were cut off from the bike or run. It is monumental to set yourself up for success when you enter a race. Both for the longevity of your athletic career and your motivation.
Triathlons come in many shapes and sizes, just like the triathletes themselves. The draw to triathlon is seen in many ways. The ex-swimming champion who needs a mid-life outlet. The person who is motivated to continue the weight loss journey. The generally sedentary individual that sees a need to change their lifestyle. There are a hundred reasons a person can be drawn towards triathlon, but one big reason is just the challenge of an impossibly difficult race that seemingly only takes several hundred dollars and some training.
How much time and training does it really take to work your way up to a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run? Well, let me tell you right now. I need to clear the air. You don’t make a new year’s resolution to get to Kona in October when you haven’t even started the sport yet! Just…don’t. These Kona people, they have been training for this for what might be a lifetime. There are naturally gifted and people who have copious amounts of free time for training, but the general population will just end up nursing their injuries for the better part of their lives.
It takes time to build distance. Only a 10% distance increase per week is advisable. When a person increases more than that, they might be fine, but they also might begin to develop shin splints and knee pain and plantar fasciitis.
It takes a lot of open water swimming to be comfortable enough in the water to be there long enough to cover 2.4 miles. It also takes some shorter distance races to understand the anxiety that can take place being in that open water with hundreds of other people. It takes many miles on the bike and run to build distance, and then build speed, because you aren’t supposed to do both at the same time.
What is the rush anyway? Every race you enter, no matter the distance, is going to be an amazing feat of endurance surrounded by like-minded individuals. And that Kona guy probably did your neighborhood Sprint or Olympic race last weekend.
So, have you completed your first Sprint triathlon? Are you ready for the Olympic? Did you succeed on your Olympic and are ready to move on to a Half-Iron? These aren’t baby steps they are realistic steps to move towards the big goal.
Is an Iron distance race your big goal? Give yourself time to build up to it. Understand the pressure this amount of training puts on your body and understand what is realistic for you. Because, when done right, you can get to a place where you do that Iron distance race year after year with no problems.