Whatever reason many cyclists may have for doing a triathlon, the physical, mental and social rewards are undeniable. You may even find the decision to be one of the most gratifying you’ve made in a while. Do you have any experienced triathlete friends? Ask them what they think about it. Until then, here are my top reasons to try triathlon as a cyclist.
Doing only one sport like cycling can cause you to overuse some muscles and joints, while others are never fully engaged. This can predispose you to an injury over the long term. By incorporating swimming and running into your workout schedule you’ll get beneficial cross-training without even trying.
Broaden your social circles
If you ride or train alone, it’s not just that you will have new opportunities to meet people at the pool or on the trail. Triathletes tend to think of training as a lifestyle because it can be quite time-consuming, so training partners easily become a group of friends that help each other achieve their fitness goals. A social circle of athletes that trains together, stays together.
Become a well-rounded athlete
Cyclists have strong legs, but they often lack in the upper body department. The shoulder, back and arm strength needed for swimming will give you a more balanced musculature. But it’s not just about the muscle. You will perform better on the bike leg, get better stability with running, better spatial awareness with swimming, and even your neural pathways will be pushed to improve over the three sports.
Justify buying new aero gear
Treat yourself to new tri suit, aero bike, tri bars, an aero helmet, and those beautiful carbon aero wheels, you’ve had your eye on. They would have been great to use on your regular road bike, but you couldn’t justify the expense when in your local bike shop. Now they are a must-have for any iron distance or half iron triathlon. It’s a great excuse to go searching for the latest high-tech invention. Hopefully your bank account can keep pace. You don’t have the space? No worries, get yourself a storage unit.
If you’ve hit a plateau with your speed, mixing in other sports into your training plans may be the new challenge you need to break through it. The intervals and speed work you’ll do while swimming and running will force your body’s engine to adapt again. Also, not many sports beat swimming in building lung capacity.
Boost your mental game
Triathlon forces you to be equally prepared for three different disciplines and comes with a host of challenges that will make you a more mentally resilient and confident athlete. You will have to deal with the discomfort of open water swimming, riding alone for hours on your time trial bike, and surviving the pain of running straight off the bike leg, just to name a few examples. Even just finishing your first triathlon will be a fantastic confidence-boosting achievement.
Work out anytime, anywhere
Another great thing about triathlon training for a cyclist is that you can still use the great outdoors, but now you have more options than just a bike race, group rides or a long solitary day in the saddle. If it’s nice outside and your legs are tired, find a nearby lake to go for a swim. For safety, it’s best to be around other swimmers or at least tell someone where you are. If it’s raining heavily, go for an indoor swim. If you’re travelling and don’t have your bike with you, bring your running shoes along and go for a trot.
Improve your health
Going on a bike ride is one thing. While it is excellent for your cardiovascular fitness, it is limited to one plane, bike riding. Adding swimming and running to your exercise regime will be only beneficial toward improving your overall health which means lowering blood pressure, warding off diabetes, osteoporosis, heart diseases and many different types of cancer.
Lose those remaining pounds
As you train for your upcoming triathlon event, you’ll find yourself in the best shape of your life. The cross-training requirements of cycling, swimming and running will require a tremendous amount of calories. Any extra weight you may have been carrying will be a thing of the past and a natural part of your journey to becoming a triathlete.
Train your weaknesses
Okay, you may be a great cyclist, but how are you at swimming and running? You may have never spent much time at these other two sports and it shows! But don’t shy away from the challenge. As you slowly increase you stamina and improve your technique in your weakest link, you’ll find that your cycling skills will only improve as well.
Spur on those around you
Now that you have made the transition from a proven cyclist to triathlon and are familiar with the many benefits it brings, you are ready to spur on other athletes around you to do the same. The positive physical and mental results you have undergone on this journey should speak for themselves. Your friends may have noticed on their own and will soon be asking you to join in the triathlon fun.