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Why do triathletes do that?

There are things we do in pursuit of our swim, bike and run obsession that others just don't understand

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Face it, triathletes aren’t normal. We’d like to think we are, but when it comes down to it, most people would be happy to pursue one sport. Look at all the happy runners and cyclists out there. (And, no, you should not be thinking to yourself that they wish they could be triathletes.)

As much as we love what we do, there are lots of things that we do in pursuit of our swim, bike and run habit that is, to the rest of the world, just a bit strange. Here are a few examples of the “Why do they do that?” questions many of our friends and family constantly ask:

Why do they eat so much?

Really? That’s a question? Think about this – even the most minimalist triathlon program includes six to eight workouts a week. It’s hard to imagine any sort of race prep that includes less than 10 hours of training a week. That’s a lot of burnt calories. There’s a reason my friends used to say that I was on a “see food” diet when I first turned pro – everything I saw, I ate.

Why do they get a tattoo of the name of a corporation?

Yes, it makes no sense for the rest of you, but for us triathletes, letting everyone know that we’ve done an Ironman is a huge deal. No, we don’t want to tattoo any other corporate logos on our bodies. This one, though, we really want!

Why do they always talk about gear?

Do you know how much of a difference a disc wheel can make to your finish time? You can shave minutes off your time with a new bike, or wetsuit. And now there are all these super-shoes to think about …

Why do they get up so early?

Unfortunately, while some of us might train as if we made a living from the sport, we don’t actually make a living from the sport. So we have jobs. So, to get our training in, we need to start early. And we’ll often rush off at lunch, or after work, to do more training, too. That’s what happens when you have three sports to train for.

Oh, and that’s why we can’t stay out late, either. Even on weekends. Sunday morning rides are best done really early, too, in order to beat the traffic.

Why do they always talk about training?

It takes up a lot of our life. We’d like to not talk about training all the time, but … well, we just can’t help ourselves.

Why do they wear so much Lycra?

Sure, it might not be your thing, but it’s comfortable. It’s aerodynamic. Yes, it might not be flattering on many of us, and we totally agree it shouldn’t be worn anywhere but training. The problem is, we do spend a lot of time training …