Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tri Something New
  by Wendy Liles, CPT

Way back in 2005, I was bored with my training. I wanted to try something new, yet stay lean and motivated. On a suggestion from a close friend, I decided to sign up for a triathlon.

In the seven years that have passed since that fateful day, I have competed in over 25 triathlons, both in the U.S. and internationally, including four 1/2 Ironman's. They have been life-changing events, providing me with great friends and amazing experiences that will last a lifetime.

The triathlon community is very supportive and friendly. You will meet a lot of fellow athletes during the race; calming your nerves, helping you rack your bike, navigating in the water, encouraging you on the bike, and inspiring comments on the run.
Liles getting tips from 4 Time Kona Ironman Winner Chrissie Wellington 
There are also all of the health benefits that come with training for a triathlon. You will become much more fit, getting stronger and increasing your aerobic capacity. You will increase lean muscle, while losing fat. In other words, you will look and feel better. 

Now that you see the benefits and joys that can come from participating in triathlons, the next thing to do is make the commitment and SIGN UP!!! This will prevent you from the very real possibility of waffling.

When picking a date, make sure you have time to prepare in all three disciplines; swim, bike and run. Three months is a reasonable time frame to prepare if you are already a relatively active person.

I strongly recommend doing a Sprint triathlon your first time out. A Sprint triathlon consists of an approximately 1/2-mile swim, followed by a 14 mile bike ride, and concludes with 3 mile run. These Sprint Triathlon lengths can very slightly, depending on the course.

Liles finishing Escape from Alcatraz
Three other triathlon distances include Olympic, ½ Ironman, and Iron Man. Olympic (International) triathlons consist of a 1-mile swim, 28-mile bike ride and a 6-mile run. For a 1/2 Ironman, also known as Ironman 70.3, these distances increase to a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. Considered the most difficult is the full Ironman, which is comprised of a 2.4-mile swim; 112-mile bike run, and ends with a 26.2-mile run.

When choosing your triathlon, it is important to make sure the race is in close proximity to where you live or where you will be staying, since triathlons generally start at first light. Therefore, you will either need to stay overnight before the race, or be able to drive to the event that morning.

Stay tuned for my next article, in which we discuss how to train for each discipline, as well as what to expect on race day.

Best in health,


Wendy Liles is an international triathlete and personal trainer. She can be reached at


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