Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat. That seems to be a common mantra for many in active Boulder county. From humble beginnings, the sport of triathlon, a multisport event of varying distances consisting of three different disciplines (swimming, biking running) has really evolved.
Triathlon’s foundation is most commonly traced back to the 70s in Southern California, when a group of friends, including swimmers, cyclists, and runners, decided to turn training into informal races. The first triathlon, the Mission Bay Triathlon, was held on September 25, 1974, hosting forty-six athletes.
Today, the sport of triathlon is booming, as exemplified by its induction on to the Olympic stage in Sydney, 2000. In Longmont 2012, Hyde Park drew roaring enthusiasm from avid fans of the sport and curious spectators, as the venue for the high profile event.
You may be a seasoned multisport veteran, or tentatively warming up to the idea of tri-ing the sport out for yourself. Either way, you’ll find a warm welcome in Longmont. Coming up in June, the popular, low-key, longest continuous running Longmont Triathlon [link to http://longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-n-z/recreation-services/special-events-recreation/longmont-triathlon] is coming back for its 35th year on Sunday, May 31st! Want to get your feet wet without necessarily diving into the deep end? Longmont Try-a-Tri offers a fun sampling of the sport a day earlier, immediately following the special Longmont Kids-Only Triathlon : swim 200 yd, bike 4 miles, then finish up with a 2K run! Or, try volunteering, and you’ll quickly get a sense of the range and camaraderie that accompanies these unique events.
If you need a little extra encouragement, or some guidance getting started, consider these tips from Longmont Coach Craig Howie, ultra-runner and former pro triathlete:
- Start with a sprint triathlon. The short distances (typically a 500-800 yard swim followed by a 12-15 mile bike, and finishing with a 3-4 mile run). This will allow you to experience the fine details of the sport, such as transitions and pacing, without the added pressure of longer events.
- Choose a race with a pool swim for your first. One of the most intimidating aspects of triathlon is swimming in open water. Triathlons with pool swims will help you ease into the experience of triathlon without the usual jostling and splashing. Pool swims also allow you to place yourself in a lane with athletes of similar experience and abilities.
- Set up your training to build familiarity with doing multiple sports sequentially. Start slowly by being able to do each of the distances in your event individually on different days. Then, cut the distances in half and try putting two of the sports together in a back-to-back “brick” workout. For instance, you might swim 250 yards, then ride your bike for 8 miles.
- Make transitions a game. Talk to anyone who has just finished a first triathlon, and they’ll be sure to mention the awkwardness of transitioning between sports. You can prepare yourself for the details (such as remembering to take your bike helmet off before running, or getting shoes on with wet feet) by setting up your own little transition area, practicing each transition without actually doing each sport. Find a place where you can set up your bike, leaned up against something, or in a rack, like it will be race day. Lay out a towel by your bike with everything you will need, both from swim to bike, and from bike to run. Put on all of your swimming gear as you’ll wear it in a race, and run through both transitions. Make it a game by practicing several times, trying to better your time each round of practice.
Of course, you don’t need a race to enjoy multisport! Craig and Jen Howie are masters of juggling training, coaching, and demanding schedules of a busy family. Getting creative, they find ways to squeeze in fun routines that also serve as multisport workouts everyone can enjoy. Curious? Tri this:
Ride your bikes to a pool as a family and play for a while in the water. Challenge your son or daughter to a few short and fun races in the pool. After the swim, hop back on your bikes and head to your favorite park. Let your children play as usual, but challenge them to a couple foot races. Once you have all had your fill of the park, jump on your bikes one more time and ride home. The whole family just put in a nice block of triathlon training and the kids probably didn’t even realize it.