The Transition from Runner to Triathlete

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Like many residents of Chicago, I was fascinated by the excitement and energy surrounding the recent Chicago Triathlon, so much so that I almost signed myself up for the SuperSprint just a few days before the race.  The fact that I have never done a triathlon didn’t matter.  I watched all the videos and knew that physically I was more than capable of completing it.  I only stopped myself because I was on vacation up until two days before the race and came back from it exhausted (Disney World just isn’t the same as relaxing on a beach somewhere).

I attended the Chicago Triathlon Expo on Saturday of race weekend and was honestly a little disappointed I wasn’t doing it.  The energy of the participants was palpable.  Then when I was running a race on the Lakefront Trail that Sunday morning and saw the bikers riding along Lakeshore Drive, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous.

The interest in triathlons and the temptation to sign up has been an evolving process for me.  A few months ago, I wrote about how I suffered a stress fracture in my hip while running in the Disney World Marathon this past January.  Three months later, I was fully cleared to run without restrictions.  When I asked the surgeon at that follow-up appointment about getting back into running, one comment she made in passing was, “you should do triathlons.”

And so the seed was planted…

I have considered triathlons at different points over the years but more in a “someday” sort of way.  I thought they were only for elite athletes or superhumans. But while I may not be Ironman material (yet), I certainly consider myself athletic.  The more I have learned and read and seen, the more I have come to realize that a triathlon is most definitely within my reach.

While I still consider myself primarily a runner, I think that shifting my perspective toward becoming a triathlete is no longer in the “someday” realm.  My training and workouts have already started to change.  I still run a lot.  I’m still training for the Chicago Marathon in just a few weeks and then Disney in January and Boston next April.  Running is something I’m good at and enjoy doing (when I’m not injured, of course).  But now I also ride the bike at the gym much more, and I try to swim laps at least 1-2 days a week.

And you know what?  I actually really like these things too.

True, I’m not doing open water swimming and the bike is stationary, but it’s a process and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.  I have spent some time looking at bikes, and this past weekend I took the plunge and ordered a really nice road bike for myself. I’m looking forward to getting it and enjoying some of the city’s trails this fall.  A few weeks ago I ran along the North Branch Trail and thought how much more fun it would be on a bike.

When I start to think about racing after Boston next year, my thoughts have shifted to summer triathlons – sprint, international, maybe even a 70.3?  Crazy I know, but I’ve got lots of time to prepare.  I’m not giving up running anytime soon, but the challenge of becoming an even stronger, more well-rounded endurance athlete excites and energizes me. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

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Jeff ran a lot for fun when he was younger, but it wasn’t until he moved to Chicago in 2014 that it developed into a real passion for him. He now enjoys running everything from 5K’s to marathons. When he isn’t running around Chicago, you can often find him at a Disney Park (probably taking part in a runDisney race).

4 COMMENTS

  1. After my second stress fracture in as many years, my physical therapist suggested I give triathlons a tri….four years later I completely fell in love with the sport, became a USAT-certified coach and will be completing my third Ironman on Sunday…..and I’m happy to report I’ve been injury-free since 2013! Give a tri a try—you won’t regret it! If you have any questions about transitioning from runner to triathlete or balancing your long-distance run goals with triathlon aspirations, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

    • Hi Kristan,

      That’s awesome! Hope everything went well at your Ironman yesterday!

      Staying injury-free is a big concern for me now and a main reason I want to make this transition.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      Jeff

  2. Same thing happened to me! Seeing people swim in Lake Michigan was just very exciting and daring. Now, after running marathons, I’m preparing myself for 70.3 in Cartagena, Colombia this December. It will be my first triathlon but, even though it sounds too much, my first race was also the Chicago Marathon! Good luck with your training!!!

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