What I Dislike About Triathlon

Let me set this straight from the outset:

I love this sport. I do.

I love the pure and raw emotion that comes with exploring your headspace as you push the body into places you haven’t been too before. I love the passion and exuberance that spectators and competitors alike bring to the race atmosphere. I love that spine-tingling moment of turning into the finish chute and the rush of (finally) crossing the line.

But there is something about this sport that has never sat well with me. It wasn’t always there – or maybe I was just naive in my earlier days. Although, I do believe that it has grown rapidly over the last few years and is beginning to change the sport, and not for the better.

In its raw form, Triathlon is a sport about grit, hard work, perseverance, and endurance. There is a minimal requirement for this sport; you must be willing to explore those attributes to achieve anything in the sport (by anything, I mean everything: from your first IM race, breaking an hour goal, to getting to Kona).

If you aren’t willing to explore those traits, then you are not dedicated to yourself, or the sport.

As I have watched this sport continue to grow from a small niche into a larger commercial success (albeit with more room to grow), I have noticed a shift from these traits, into more about doing whatever it takes to “get noticed”, or to “be seen”. A move away from the realities of this sport, towards creating a “perception” of that reality.

There are more pictures, posts and blogs about how successful an age group athlete appears to be than there are on how hard it was – the truth behind it all – to get there in the first place.

Nowadays when I am our riding with local athletes, the conversations are mainly focused on matching colour schemes for bikes and kits, or the need to have the updated version of the same watch that was updated six months ago.

We talk more about the consumerism of the sport than we do about what is required to do well in the sport.

Call me old school, or a traditionalist, but “back in the day” it wasn’t about that.
It was less about the bike, the shoes, the watch, the apparel, the shakes, the “likes”, and the excuses. Racing was grit. Racing was raw and honest.

Now before you write this off as a native rant from a jaded coach/ athlete, let me be straight: I am a realist. I understand that part of the success of triathlon’s growth is due the increase in numbers, the rise of social media, and the advent of “bucket list” sports.

I do feel, however, that the balance is swaying in favour of the fake VS the real. The staged training photos, instead of the blood(?), sweat and tears involved.

The image has become more important than the truth.

That’s not what the sport is really about though. This competition was borne on the notion of embracing the challenges of a multi-disciplined sport, while working full-time, or raising a family, or on a shoe-string budget, or despite the fact that your family “doesn’t get it”.

That is what endurancecollab is about. Real athletes, real training and ultimately real success. We are about the actual reality of the sport – the grit, grit, hard work, perseverance, and endurance. It’s about this single truth: this sport is hard, it is demanding, and it takes some time to master the craft.

And that truth is also the most beautiful part of this sport. It’s what separates it from so many others. It’s what makes it so unique. We – the collective of athletes – need to re-adopt those principles

Triathlon is a sport for everyone. Everyone willing to pursue their own versions of grit, hard work, perseverance, and endurance, and ultimately learn something about themselves.

Photo Source: Pinterest. Orginal Source: slowtwitch.com