From Couch Potato to Superhero

So you think you’re ready for a triathlon, the ultimate test of endurance and physical fitness? With the right amount of chutzpah, almost anyone can train for one, even if you are only one step above a sloth. For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what a triathlon is, it is a race that incorporates running, swimming and biking in the same event. In between each, there is a transition stage to switch gear, hydrate and regroup.

Triathlons have four race levels: Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironman (see chart). Those of us who are triathlon virgins should obviously begin at the Sprint level. There are over a dozen triathlons that take place all over Long Island between April and October, with usually 500-2,000 participants in each event.

Once you’ve set your sights on becoming a triathlete, even if it’s just to check it off your bucket list, you’ll need to devise a plan of action. First and foremost, a healthy cardiovascular foundation, as well as sound joints and muscles, are essential. You will also need to secure a balance of determination, training and proper gear.

Mindy Davidson from Long Island Tri Coach has over 75 triathlons under her belt and has offered guidance to countless athletes over the years. “With the right amount of training and preparation, someone with a moderate fitness level can certainly endure a Sprint triathlon,” said Davidson. “Ideally, to prepare for a Sprint triathlon, they should swim a minimum of thirty minutes at least twice a week, bike an hour two times a week, and run thirty minutes twice a week, and a longer run on the weekend (building up to an hour).”

Most athletes and coaches seem to agree that the swimming part of the event is the most challenging, due to the fact that most people do not swim on a day-to-day basis. But in addition to drilling for the actual phases of the race, it’s important to get into great shape through surefire diet and exercise. Donna McMahon, a certified triathlon coach on Long Island, who has raced as a Pro triathlete for nine years, explains, “Though of course swimming, biking, and running are the main activities, a good core and strength training program should be included to enhance performance, shorten recovery time and prevent injury… One should train for their first triathlon (depending on their background and workout history) for between 8-12 months, and should gradually increase volume and intensity.”

Whether it’s a bet you’ve made with a coworker, a personal ambition or just a fun thing you’re doing with a bunch of friends, you need to stay motivated and on track. You have to stick with a regimen that will get your body in top form and plan well for the big day.

“The triathlon is a great sport and lifestyle here on Long Island,” said Davidson. “There are many triathlon teams and clubs as well as coaches to help people achieve their goals. There are also several multi-sport shops that specialize in selling triathlon gear.”
If you are not up for the invitation just yet, it’s still pretty exciting to attend as a spectator. There’s a lot of energy wafting through the atmosphere, and watching these amazing athletes perform is invigorating and awe inspiring. Just maybe, as you stand along the sidelines, you’ll get pumped enough to give it a whirl next year.


Long Island Triathlons 2010

May 23
Ironclad Triathlon, Glen Cove
June 6
Town of Islip Great South Bay, East Islip Marina
Sprint Triathlon: Swim: 750 meters, Bike: 11 miles, Run: 3.1 miles (5K)
June 12
Robert J. Aaron Memorial Triathlon
Olympic Distance: Swim: 1 mile, Bike: 22 miles, Run: 6.2 miles (10k)
June 20
Long Island Gold Coast Triathlon and Duathlon, Port Washington
July 4
Independence Triathlon, East Meadow
July 11
Mighty North Fork Triathlon, Southold
Sprint Triathlon: Swim: 500 meters (.3 miles), Bike: 8 miles (12.8K), Run: 3.5 miles (5.6K)
July 31
Mini Mighty Man Youth Triathlon, Nassau Aquatic Center
September 12
Mighty Hamptons Triathlon, Sag Harbor
Olympic Distance: Swim: .93 miles (1.5K), Bike: 23.8 miles (38K), Run: 6.2 miles (10K)
October 2
MightyMan Sprint Triathlon, Montauk
Sprint Distance: Swim: 750 meters (.46 miles), Bike: 10.5 miles (17K), Run: 3.1 miles (5K)
October 3
MightyMan Half Triathlon, Montauk, NY
Half Distance: Swim: 1.2 miles, Bike: 56 miles (90K), Run: 13.1 miles (21.1K)
October 10
Cedar Beach Triathlon, Mount Sinai

For more information about the Long Island Triathlon schedule visit