At some point most runners, cyclists, swimmers think about moving to another level and doing a triathlon. Clearly there are some major events which a lot of us will not ever get to. The Ironman lives up to its name with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run. Even the half ironman is going to be a serious push for most of us. But fortunately there are shorter options which either act as an entry level into the discipline or as a goal in themselves.

My daughter Victoria was doing her first one last Sunday and Stella and I went over to Crystal Palace to watch. The race was at the Sprint distance with a 750m swim in the indoor pool first. Swimmers do two 50m lengths in lane 1 then duck under the divide into lane 2 and so on until they finish in lane 8. A quick jog from the pool complex to the adjoining transition area and ready for the 20k bike stage.

The Crystal Palace complex offers some excellent sports facilities, but it looks pretty tired. The Government really needs to invest in this type of facility and in terms of improving the health and fitness of the nation, let alone our sports prowess, it would be money well spent. However spectators got a great view of the transition area from the raised walkway above. A quick change, and off to do a nine lap course on the bike. Victoria is a regular swimmer and cyclist and went well on both of these events. The final stage was the 5k run, and although Vix has done races to half marathon distance, not much recently, and the run is always a struggle after the bike. It was getting pretty warm by now as well. But she finished fine and that’s another event in the bag.

Most people who do not do a triathlon will say its because they are weak at one of the sports. “I can run and cycle pretty well but I’m rubbish at swimming” is a fairly standard response. The thing to do is to look at your weakest event and work out how to improve. Although I have been swimming since I was seven, I knew that I was not fast. So a few years ago I started training with the Strag tri group and quickly picked up a number of performance enhancing tips.

After watching Victoria and all of the many participants at Crystal Palace I felt the least I could do was a little training of my own so in the evening I cycled to the gym and swam 1000 metres. I have my own tri coming up in a couple of weeks. If you havent done one, take a look. They are becoming more popular and entry levels are not as hard as you might think.


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