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Thinking about doing a triathlon? Go for it

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The word "triathlete" conjures up images of elite athletes. Yet surprisingly triathletes can include everyone from young mothers to seniors.Marilyn White is in top shape now but just a couple years ago fitness wasn't something she had much time for.

"Like a lot of moms out there I had spent a decade having babies and nursing them, so I got to the gym every once in a while," said White.

Then as she was staring down her 40th birthday, she set a new goal for herself -- she signed up for a triathlon. She knew she had some serious training ahead.

"Before my first triathlon, I had probably been on a bike maybe three times," said White.

And because triathlons require you to swim, bike and run, she needed to be able to do all three. Like many others in her position, she hooked up with a local club to help her get ready.

"That's one of the biggest aspects of the sport, the social aspect. Misery loves company," said Mike Reilly, Active.com. "They want to have someone out there with them, and be able to go out there and see if they're doing it correctly."

Reilly is a triathlon expert for Active.com, a Web site that provides resources to those in training. He says he's definitely seen a change.

"Elite athletes really highlight the sport, but the heart and soul of the triathlon is made up of amateurs," said Reilly. "It is the 40 to 44-year-old women, or the 70-year-old man who all of a sudden want to keep attaining to more goals in life."

The people fulfilling these fitness fantasies aren't always super-fit or athletic.

"I had never really run more than a mile so I had to push it," said White.

"They have accomplished something that probably two months prior, six months prior they thought they could never do in a million years," said Reilly. "All of a sudden they do it and you see the happiest people coming across the finish lines."

And with Web sites and clubs to help, it's easier than ever to try a triathlon.