ASK THE GOAT: Why Tri?
Goat: “I’m a competitive swimmer and a decent biker, but absolutely hate running. Unfortunately, this has always knocked out both triathlon and duathlon events for me. I am willing to become a runner, but want to know if it is even worth it. Do you still do triathlon and other multisport events?” Signed “Tri-anna”
Dear Tri-anna: Although I took a two-year-long hiatus from multisport to refine my running, I am slated to compete in three full Ironman events in 2014. I have already begun my training for these. I can tell you, though, that if you are a strong swimmer, you are already at an advantage in triathlon. Anyone can learn to become a good biker or runner. Very few can master the swim. Refine that talent and you could dominate the sport.
In addition to triathlon, you could explore some other multisport options. There is a little-known event that is resurfacing in the wake of triathlon’s gaining popularity. It is the Aqua-Bike event. It is quite simply a Swim-Bike-Swim event governed under the USA Triathlon organization. Its sister event, the Aquathon, is a Swim-Run-Swim (or sometimes a Swim-Run-Swim-Run-Swim) event. With your strong swimming ability, either would lend you advantage over the average competitor. Most time lost in multisport is through the swim and/or transition points. If you hone your skills to buttress your swimming and master the tricks of spending “only seconds” in the transition area between events, I feel confident that multisport would be worth your time.
As a weak swimmer, I start off every triathlon in the rear. Mentally, and due to the strict cut-off times in Iron Distance events, this is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. At least during the distance events, I gain ground on the bike, as that is ironically my strongest (but most hated) event. Then I can usually inch my way back into the middle-pack during the run before completion. But to have the swimming skill-set to keep in the forefront from the start of the triathlon will never be a realized dream. Swimming just isn’t something an adult can learn and master in a short period of time. If ever.
So, Tri-anna, I encourage you to explore the possibilities of multisport, from Aqua-Bike and Aquathon, to Duathlon and Triathlon. Try every configuration, distance and type. Your weaknesses are easily coachable, and your talents are those that coaches dream to find. Let me know if you ever do take the plunge. I would be very interested to see how you fare. Good Luck.