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Holly's Tri mis-adventures
I'm a previously unsporty 20 something that has been trying very hard at tri for the last 6 years with minimal success! I love the sport to the extent that I helped my husband set up 'The Triathlon Shop' three years ago and have recently started working there full-time having given up a career in accountancy.

I'm lucky to be in the industry I love and often get to try out kit before it is released. When I do get to play with fun triathlon toys I tend to write a little review about my experiences. I also like to blog about my pathetic attempts to train and the fun I have in the summer racing and supporting all my friends at races.

Common triathlon misconceptions...

twiggyby twiggyJan 17th 2014
Here are a collection of things people have said to me about triathlon or or that I've overheard being said over the years which either frustrate or amuse me:

"You must be super fit to do triathlon" and/or "I could never do a triathlon".

Wrong and wrong. I am not super fit by any stretch of the imagination. I do super sprint and sprint distance because my fitness will not allow me to go further! I only do triathlon because I was inspired by seeing a lady twice my age, at least twice my weight and blind completing a triathlon. If I can do it, and if she can do it - YOU can do it!

"Triathlon is an expensive sport"

This can be true if you want it to be. However it doesnt have to be. If you enter a pool swim tri it means you dont need a wetsuit. Most people own a bike that they can ride - my first tri was on a borrowed mountain bike! The run doesnt require any special equipment. You also dont need a trisuit. I started out with a two piece swimming costume and a t-shirt.
It is true that race entry costs have increased over the years, but if you are happy to marshall at a triathlon most race organisers will give you a free entry to another race that they organise (I know DBMax do this).

Of course once you have given tri a go there are many shiny things you can buy to make you much faster. The point is - price is only a barrier to starting tri if you want it to be.

"You have to be super flexible to ride a triathlon bike"

Not true. Most people with a proper bike fit can be perfectly comfortable on a triathlon/TT bike. My husband is a classic example. He broke 3 vertebrae as a teenager resulting is significant loss of lumbar flexibility. This is him on a TT bike:
Common triathlon misconceptions...
I think you'll agree he doesnt look too bad. Believe it or not he actually feels more comfortable in this position than on a road bike.

"Triathletes cant handle a bike"

This barely deserves an answer. All I will say on the matter is that perhaps if you add 'ITU draft legal' infront of the word 'triathletes' you may be getting closer to the truth! Age groupers tend to be pretty damn good at handling a bike in my experience. (this comment does not include the Brownlees - they are pretty decent on a bike!)

"Carbon is carbon right?!"

Dont get me started on this one! It is a common misconception that one bike labelled as carbon is equal to another bike made of carbon. This is not the case. There are many (online only generally) bike brands out there that claim to do a high quality carbon frame for little money. What you are getting however is so inferior that you would be a whole lot better off getting a quality aluminium bike! Cheap carbon has so little carbon content that the flexibility you get is terrifying. I have compared the rear triangle of a cheap carbon brand with a reputable bike brand and the difference in flex is staggering. A powerful rider would simply bend the frame out of shape with every pedal revolution (and in fact we have seen cases where wheels have hit the rear triangle on both sides!) The other trick we have seen is that some manufacturers will simply wrap an aluminium frame with carbon and call it a carbon frame, leaving the customer with a bike that is more expensive and heavier than the equivalent aluminium bike.

"Unless you've gone long you havent really done a triathlon"

I think this is unfair. Everyone has personal goals and difficulties in reaching those goals. Some people simply arent endurance athletes but want to take part in triathlon. The main thing I love about triathlon is its inclusivity, and a major part of this is the shear variety of events there are available to take part in. I am guilty of sometimes being apologetic about the distances I race when people ask me, but I really shouldn't be. I'm proud to be a short distance triathlete!

"You can only get a good deal on kit online"

So very untrue. Not only will your local independent get very close to online prices, they offer you so much more. Don't fall into the trap of thinking a bike online is £50 cheaper than in your local shop therefore it is a better deal. Your local shop will build it for you for free (normally around £40 - and you need to make sure you do this or it has no warranty!), make sure you buy the right size in the first place, supply you with an undamaged item and give you advice. The Triathlon Shop offer a free Newfit level 2 video bike fit (£75) and 2 free services a year for the life of the bike (£70) on top of this. When you add up what you get on top of the advertised price it is a significantly better deal even if the bike is £50 more.
At the end of the season there are also bargains to be had in store as shop floors need to be cleared ready for the next seasons kit. My best advice is to go in and be friendly. The more the staff like you the better deal you will get!

Also be aware that the reason alot of kit is cheap online is that it has not been purchased through UK distributors. This means if there is a problem you will have next to no chance of getting it sorted out!

"Triathlon is too intimidating for women"

I'm intimidated by a lot of situations - but triathlon is not one of them. It is true that there are fewer women competing than men, but compared to other sports there really isnt much of a gender divide. High up in the sport women get the same opportunities and pay in triathlon as the men! If you are in a pool you will start in a wave with men and women of the same standard as you so there is little pressure to go faster than you are comfortable with. If you are open water then you are likely to be in an all female wave anyway.
You may feel like you are going to be the slowest or the fatest or the most rubbish swimmer, but you probably wont be. Even if you are you will get the same support as the quickest people. Remember, you were the person brave enough to enter and that deserves respect no matter what your standard.

And finally, if you are intimidated by parading your cold wet body around your local town in lycra - believe me all people are thinking when they are looking at you is that they couldn't do what you are doing and that they wish they could be more like you.
 
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