Triathlon is for Every BODY

By Adam Sczech | Jan. 16, 2018, 5:32 p.m. (ET)

swim start

“Why not?”

I have uttered that phrase many times when talking with someone about triathlon. Like most people that have been doing triathlons for a long time, most of my wardrobe is made up of race T-shirts, and they are often a conversation starter. So often I hear “Oh, that’s amazing” or “I could never do that,” which are untrue. Just about anybody — with any body — can do a triathlon.

Triathlon is about doing the most with our unique body, no matter the size, shape or abilities. Short, tall, lean, muscular, young or wise, there is a place for each of us! Our sport includes physically challenged athletes, and I’ve raced with athletes with quadriplegia, skeletal dysplasia and visual impairments. When I hear someone say they could never do a triathlon, I tell them about my first triathlon.

The first triathlon I ever did was way back in the day, before smartphones, and when I was in college in 2002. It was during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. I was a college football player, and not a skill position — I was 312-pound offensive lineman. It’s not exactly the body type one associates with triathlon.

Adam SczechI can’t explain why I wanted to do a triathlon other than it simply seemed like fun. Even as a lumbering lineman I enjoyed biking and I tolerated running, plus I took swim lessons as a kid. I would soon discover that swimming for fun is tremendously different than swimming for speed.

When I saw a flyer for a little local triathlon near my college I thought, why not?

I was not going to be stopped because I did not fit what I thought of as the triathlon or endurance athlete “mold.” I was not even going to be stopped by the fact that all I had was a mountain bike that I used to get around campus.

If there is one true statement about triathlon, it is that there is no mold. Any body type and any person can do a race. No one needs the latest and greatest equipment or to quit their job to train. Ultimately, the only thing needed is the desire to do a triathlon, minimal equipment, and yes, a bit of training.

The race was a week after finals, so I did not do any training beyond what I did for football. As a coach now, I would not recommend that! Even without specific preparation, I had fun. My goal was met and I was happy.

Did I feel great? No. But I had one of the greatest feelings of my life during the bike. I passed a person on a real triathlon bike, complete with race wheels, on my mountain bike. I thought that was incredible, and was probably what got me hooked on triathlon.

The thing I did right going into my first race was having the belief that I could do a triathlon. Never discount what you are capable of, and never assume something is impossible.

“You never know how steep a climb is until you put your nose on it.” Doing my first triathlon at 312 pounds seemed steep, but I did it. No matter what your steep climb may look like to you now, you can do it too.

Adam Sczech coaches with Team MPI and is an IRONMAN Certified Coach, USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites and clubs. Adam grew up speed skating and playing hockey and football, then he competed in road and track cycling until making the switch to triathlon in 2009. He can be reached at adam@teamMPI.com.

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