Monday, August 22, 2011

Why do a Triathlon. No, Really. Why?

What’s your motivation?

Photo credit: John Howe at
Are you a triathlon ‘virgin’, never having done a swim-bike-run of any distance (but want to)?

Or a seasoned triathlete with a few Ironmans under your belt?

Why do you want to do a triathlon?

If you have done one or more, why do you continue doing triathlons?

(Also, is there anyone out there who has stopped at just one? Is it possible?)

And a Triathlon is What? A History Lesson-ette
The first ever ‘modern’ triathlon was held California in 1974 by two dudes who put both their ‘strange race event’ proposals together to come up with the Mission Bay Triathlon:

·         Held after work on Friday evening. Convenient!
·         Fees: $1. (Yes folks, thats ONE DOLLAR)
·         RUN 6 miles (9.7 km), BIKE 5 miles (8 km) and SWIM 500 yards (460 m).

I think it was genius putting the swim leg last. After running and cycling nearly 20 km, it would have been very refreshing for the participants to plunge into the sea and splash around in deep open water with Jaws. 

Risks Triathletes Take 

Also, I’m sure it was also quite exciting, because it was night and dark during the swim leg! Read more at History of Triathlon

These days, triathlons are done with the swim first. Where’s the fun in that? :)

Shark Victim says "Yeah, where's the fun in that?"
Triathlon Distances. What’s your fancy?

I’ve summarized the commonly encountered race distances in the table below, plus cut off times.  For those just starting out there’s the Sprint (read about a Perfect Sprint HERE), but there are also shorter distances like ‘Super Sprint’ and ‘Hoohathlon’ (Malaysia only), and Ironkids (Kids only J). If you’re going from ‘Couch to Sprint’, give yourself at least 2 months to get yourself where you can sustain a slow huff-n-puff for 2 hours. If you’re doing Olympic, to finish, figure on being able to maintain a slow workout of 4 hours. Of course if you’re looking to stand on a podium and receive a nifty prize, that’s a whole other training approach!

You Gotta:
Sprint Distance
Olympic Distance
Long Course*
Ultra Distance**
Cut off times:     2 hr
4.25 hr
8.5 hr
17 hr
*e.g. the Half Ironman. To sound cool and in-the-know, just refer to this as '70.3'.
** the most famous branded Ultra Distance is the Ironman. Also called '140.6'.

Top 5 reasons Human Beans Do Triathlons
1.       Prove something to others. “I’m better than you!”  It’s true! Honest! That’s how the first Ironman started – to settle a feud between a bunch of swimmers, runners and cyclists as to who was the better athlete.  
2.       Prove something to themselves. “I wanna be a better me!”  Different people have different ideas on what that ‘better me’ means. Healthier, fitter, less stressed, more confident etc etc.
3.       Want or need to mix it up. “Doing just one sport is boring and I have a short attention span”. Many triathletes are also ex-runners who when sidelined by injury diversified into triathlon to continue being active in a joint-sparing manner.
4.       Adulation of others. “I don’t excel at any of the three sports, but when I tell people I’m into triathlons, they’re like ‘PWHOARRR, you’re a triathlete?'”  SWEET!
5.       Looking good in spandex.

Maybe not.
Let's try again.


Strike Two.
Hot Chick in Spandex. Wait... That's a DUDE.

Ok ok I ran out of ideas. (Help?!)

A few other nobler reasons could be: ‘Set a good example for my kids’, ‘Raise awareness for my charity or cause’.

What’s your reason?

In my next post, I’ll give you mine. Stay tuned! (UPDATE: Here's my super-inspirational post on 'Why I Love Triathlon'. 12 Sep 2011)

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your motivations for doing triathlon!

A click on any ad below this post will put a few cents in my pocket, from the advertisers. Thanks for supporting my blog!

xo Gracie

Photo credits: Triathletes swimming (triathlonjunkie), Steven Spielberg with Jaws, 1st dude in Spandex (Charlie's Blog), 3rd dude in Spandex (Chris 'Macca' McCormack Ironman 2007 and 2010!).


  1. Hi Grace. What a great post. There's a motivational speaker called Lew Hollander who is 80 years old and has competed in 25 Kona Ironmans.This means that he started at 55. He shared one thing which inspired me, 'If you want to be functional at 80, pay attention at 40'.

    I started to train for triathlons nearly 10 months ago and my life has changed primarily because for the first time in a long time, I started to pay attention to my body and how it's working.

    I don't really have a need to prove myself to anyone and I do get terribly embarrassed when i bump into people who follow my blog and tell me that they get really inspired by what I'm doing.

    Ultimately though, it's the one thing that I do that I do completely for my self and there's a certain kind of magic in realising that finishing the event is completely up to me. The world will not miss a beat and will keep on moving whether I finish or not and that's whats great about it.

  2. I'm doing it because i need to aim something this year...something beyond my imaginary...something to keep me i know that i'm still alive.... ;)

  3. Why I do it??
    Because I Can when Once I could not,
    because the person I once was, is no match for the person I am and can become,
    because limits can pushed and broken

    Paul Lee

  4. Paul, thanks for your comment. Beautifully said. You are an inspiration!

  5. Reza, as you know I do follow your blog and you do inspire me (and countless others). Thanks for sharing what motivates you to Tri - reading it this morning, and others' comments is an incredible way to kickstart my day!

  6. Kay, you are such a vital, and 'alive' woman! Your level of motivation and determination is insane! Thanks for being a friend.

  7. Harharharhar....yeah my colleagues thought me crazy at first because I wanted to buy a bicycle so I can travel from my house to the office instead using my motorbike. They said...are mad?? So I was accidently know about triathlon while I was surfing. Suddenly my heart whispered to me..."who cares?! Keep going and let them know your spirit is true...." Triathlon things inspire to me to do beyond my limits. Once i'm start trainning I become more and more in love with it. I remembered my first fear factor against to the water. I fight my fears and now I know how to swim and I'm crazy with swim things and accidently get into scuba diving. I want to feel that feeling again. Its really cure me from "something"....something that I called "feeling lost". Your most welcome Grace...I'm also glad to meet you and being your friend too...

  8. Cos I've a few obnoxious (good fellas really) friends who keep bombarding me with their marathon timings each 20KM, 30KM lar, weather conditions lar over the years.... now I can return the favour with 3 different discipline .. WuahaHAHA !

  9. I wanted to be a good role model to my son. And needed a way to cope when quitting my drug addiction. Triathlon saved my life!

  10. John, wow... that's powerful, and inspiring. I love your blog! You have yourself a new fan :D


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