I think I like cycling. I’d done a fair bit on my own in the past. However, when I moved to my current address I joined the local cycling club. Without exception, I was the worst cyclist in the club. I did my best to get better including spin classes and many many sessions on the turbo trainer. However, although I’m sure I got fitter, I was still terrible in comparison to everyone else I rode with.
I thought the best option would be to try and do some cross training. So I took up swimming and running. Initially, I could only do 2 lengths front crawl and about 500m of running before I was having the symptoms of a post MI patient who continued to smoke 60 cigarettes per day. It took many weeks or practice until I got up to decent distances. By the time I did my first half iron-man, I could do 160 lengths (4km) and could run non-stop for two and a half hours. However, I simply didn’t spend enough time on the bike and, in fact, became a worse cyclist.
That said, I really enjoyed the challenge of triathlon. It’s very different to anything else I’d ever done and I think the thing I look most is that you are just racing yourself. There’s the added excitement of learning how to do transition and get faster at that.
The most important thing I found being a GP is that if I can go from being a sedentary almost 19 stone to 14 stone 7 pounds and completing a half iron-man (1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run back to back) then so can anyone. I did my first one for a near by Day Centre for OAPs and was featured in the local paper. I manage to raise £2000 for their new bus! So when patients tell me that they can’t do something I get to draw on this experience and let them know that their negativity is unfounded. It’s sometimes ok to be righteous, yes?
Anyway, triathlon is a lot of fun and there’s distances for all levels. I’d totally recommend you try it.
Time – Depending on the distance you’re doing you may have to spend several hours a week on training. However someone with basic fitness could probably do a sprint triathlon.
Equipment – Swimming stuff, bike, helmet, running stuff. Tri-suit. Anything else is just extra expense.
Cost – ££ -£££££. The cost here mainly pertains to your bike. I’ve seen people do triathlon on a mountain bike before so if you already have any old bike you could do one. However, if you decided to go for a top of the range TT bike then you may be talking about several thousands of pounds. For your first one just get yourself a basic bike and make sure it’s serviced properly.
Difficulty – Actually quite easy for the shorter distances. Just make sure you can do the swim.
Partner annoyance factor – Quite high. The training takes a lot out of your week and race day can take hours as you have to do the set up, wait for your heat and then you can’t get your bike back until the race is over. Basically many many hours.
Family – It’s great for them to watch as they can see you during the swim and several times during transition. I’d hoped that it would inspire my son to get involved but I think he’s going to be a bit of a lazy-bones.
Rewards – high. Health, fitness, medals and some nice equipment. However, the best reward is beating your time from the previous year.