In the athletic world, there are all sorts of events and competitions that take place on a yearly basis. From the Super Bowl to the World Cup, the Boston Marathon and the NBA Finals, there is always an athletic event somewhere in the US for athletes to challenge themselves and for spectators to enjoy. Competing in one demanding sport is hard enough. Can you imagine competing in three grueling sports on the same day?  As extreme and demanding as it may sound, some elite athletes compete in such an endeavor during an Ironman Triathlon. The event requires athletes to complete a variety of sporting activities including swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running a 26.2 mile marathon without any break.

While some of the fittest athletes compete for time’s sake during the Ironman, others simply partake in the event to challenge themselves and to simply reach the Finish Line. With a competition so grueling and harsh, you’re probably wondering why anyone would want to try such a thing, but the fact is that participating in any sporting event is a passion for many people. “Triathlons challenge me to be as healthy and physically fit as possible.  I like the competition with fellow triathletes.  Most of all, it’s about goal setting.  Accomplishing a goal by creating and following a plan and seeing its fruition is very rewarding,” explained Phoenix dentist and triathlete Dr. John Pappas.

Training for a first-time triathlon

If you’re considering the prospect of participating in a triathlon, the wild world wide web is filled with plenty of helpful tips and training tricks. Attempting a triathlon without the proper preparation can be quite dangerous, especially if you overexert your body and open yourself up for a potential injury. To ensure that your first triathlon is successful, you’ll want to properly prepare with the help of a personal trainer with a background in multi-sport events or a well-seasoned triathlete. As explained by Spokane dentist and experienced triathlete Dr. Ken Collins, “Find someone who’s done it and pick their brain. Nowadays you can get a good local triathlon coach and he/she can get you off on the right foot. With proper instruction and coaching you can do very well and not get injured and be very successful.”

But that’s not to say that you have to quit your job and spend day after day in endless training. “Most beginners tend to train way too much,” says Dr. Collins, “I train about 10 hours per week for an Ironman and I can be competitive and finish because I know what I’m doing.” Focus on the quality of your training and getting the necessary distance in to prepare your body for the long race day rather than just killing yourself with high-intensity training that only increases your risk of an overuse injury.

Some other helpful triathlon training tips include:

  • Include stretching, therapy rollers and massage into your training
  • Be sure to get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Don’t push yourself too far; working up a sweat and increasing your heart rate for a period of time is one thing, but going too far above your personal limit can result in an overuse injury.
  • Slowly increase your speed, time, and length as opposed to making big leaps in either category.
  • Familiarize and understand the racecourse and plan your training in a similar manner.  This is related to the type of hills, ocean/lake swim, the distance and the heat associated with the race.

Remember, training for a triathlon requires plenty of time, effort, and experience. Rarely are athletes able to compete in the Ironman without at least a moderate background in triathlons. Experience for all the “little things” is key.  Starting with smaller triathlons and working up to a competition such as a half Ironman is ideal for most athletes so that the body can adapt and become stronger and more durable. Success comes with time, especially in triathlon competitions.


Blog posting by Jonathan Fashbaugh writes for Off-Topic Media LLC. Dr. Pappas has a dental practice in Phoenix, Arizona and focuses on cosmetic dentistry. His colleague, fellow triathlete and friend, Dr. Ken Collins has a dental practice in Spokane, Washington.