I never thought that I would hear myself say the words, “I want to do that!” when the topic of conversation was doing a triathlon. But I had been learning to swim, and our area had a very active women’s triathlon group, so it was hard to avoid coming into contact with triathletes of all ages and sizes if you were at the pool often. This is how I came to hear those words leave my lips one day after a swimming class.
Doing triathlons, as it turns out, was a blast. Occasionally, a scary blast, but something I have no regrets about. My triathlon days, now, are over, I think. Little shoulder and knee injuries tell my body that e-biking and walking are better for me now than race cycling and running. But for a short time in my life, I was fitter and faster than I ever imagined I would be.
How to earn the triathlon adult merit badge
- Do a triathlon! Swim, bike, and then run in sequence. And do so while following rule #1 of the triathlon group I was part of: “Don’t die.” Nobody in our group ever broke that rule. Well, at least not as a result of doing a triathlon.
It’s up to you how you interpret this. Does a virtual tri count? It does if you say so. Does length matter? No, but I’d encourage you to try a sprint-distance triathlon, at least.
Any advice on how to earn the triathlon adult merit badge?
Remember that when it comes to fitness, you know your body best and should only do things that you feel are appropriate for you. And consult with your doctor before starting any vigorous workout plan.
- Train regularly and as far in advance of the event if you can. This will enable you to start slowly and make you less likely to sustain injuries. Don’t jump right into a three-mile run! It’s OK to start by walking a mile or even less. But get in a little of each activity every week and keep building on that.
- Strength training is helpful! When I was doing tris, in the Winter, I went to the gym and did weights, then as Spring approached, I devoted myself more to direct training but still did strength training one day a week.
- Find other women in your area that are training. This will serve as a form of motivation and encouragement and give you buddies to practice your swim with (never open water swim alone).
- A good wetsuit is invaluable. It not only keeps you warm, but it floats your butt up and helps you swim faster and easier. HOWEVER, you will want to learn to swim freestyle as trying to do breaststroke in a swimsuit is a pain in the butt.
- If the swimming part of the event puts you off, consider finding a coach. Or, in the absence of a coach, go to the pool A LOT (when pools open again, of course). I found the Total Immersion book helpful as a guide to improving my swimming technique.
- Invest in good footwear. Don’t skimp when it comes to shoes. Have a reputable running shoe store fit you with good running shoes. It will help protect your feet.
- You do NOT need all the latest gadgets! I love gadgets, and they’re fun, but it’s possible to go overboard. At one point, I had so many trackers attached that my spouse referred to me as “Cheryl of Borg.”
- Please don’t get so serious about being fast that it ceases to be fun! My favorite people from my triathlon days were the (adults) who did their triathlons on beach cruisers and wore Barbie backpacks.
- This may be TMI, but if it’s that time of the month, learn to use a menstrual cup like the Diva Cup. This works much better during a triathlon than the alternatives.
- Learn how to change your bike tire! Yourself! You will have a flat at some point.
When did I earn the triathlon adult merit badge?
I earned this badge during the Summer of 2013. Doing the triathlons made this among the best Summers of my life. By the time I finished, I could swim a mile in open water and planned to go on to Olympic distance triathlons, but a combination of big life events, combined with some hip pain, caused me to decide to stop.
Was this badge worth it? Any regrets?
Totally! My only regrets are that I didn’t go on to do more of them. That, and that they write your age on your arm for all to see!
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