Purposefully not going the distance.

As of last Friday, I’ve been on my spring break and thus took a vacation from writing. I will be posting this coming Sunday about last week’s and this week’s workouts, but in the meantime I thought I would share with you a free-lance piece I wrote about how people can sometimes look down their noses at sprint-triathlons. I was feeling a little righteous, so please bear with my sassy tone. See you on Sunday with my regular post!

~Jen

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I began competing in triathlon six years ago, and since then, about two to three times a season I am asked about “what I do” by a non-triathlete. “Oh, so you do those Ironman races?” the person asks wide-eyed and amazed, and then I have to correct them. “No. I only race the sprint triathlons.” The non-triathlete follows that up by asking me how long the race is, and that’s when I really dash their wonderment. I only swim half of a mile compared to the Ironman distance of 2.4 miles. I only bike 12 miles compared to a full triathlon’s 112 miles. I only run 3.2 miles compared to the grueling marathon of the Ironman-distance tri. I have said the word only so many times that I started to believe that I wasn’t doing anything very challenging or awe-inspiring. But it’s not just the random people who ask me about what I do; the media is just as guilty of not recognizing that sprint-distance triathlons are just as impressive as the full-distance.

Pick up the latest issue of any triathlon magazine or peruse the multisport social media sites and about 90% of the athletes featured are full-distance competitors. Likewise, majority of the training advice is for those preparing to race an Ironman-distance tri. When the magazines, blogs, etc. actually mention sprint triathlons, it’s usually an article or issue for the “beginner triathlete.” While I agree that anyone considering the sport of triathlon should absolutely begin with a sprint or super-sprint distance, I’ve got some news for the world: some triathletes compete in sprint triathlons exclusively, and I am one of those people. I have no desire whatsoever to swim, bike, or run any farther than what I do, and that’s not because I’m not good enough. The triathletes who race sprint distance call it their sport because they want to race fast. Not only do we race three sports in a row (four if you count the transition), but we also race as quickly as we possibly can. Speed is the ultimate goal.

Now that I’m entering my seventh season as a triathlete, I’ve made the conscious decision to not qualify the feats I achieve by slapping a self-deprecating only before them. No matter the distance, competing in triathlon is a huge accomplishment. So to all those non-triathletes and long-distance competitors who measure triathlon success by great distances, know that I don’t only do sprint triathlons – I only do awesome.

 

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2 Responses to Purposefully not going the distance.

  1. my1sttrirace says:

    Any distance hurts, if you do it right. After a few years of only doing long events, I am concentrating on shorter events this year. I can’t wait to go out there and let it rip. Also, my family will see me more, with those 6 hour training rides cut out.

    Best of luck to you on your season.

    Like

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