10 Things to Never Say to a Triathlete
1. "Why don't you kick when you swim?"1 of 11
Because we're saving our leg strength for the bike and the run, duh! No, but seriously, the right to completely suck at swimming while still being a decent triathlete is every multisport athlete's God-given right. Thank goodness for wetsuits, amiright?
2. "You should stop pulling every swim set."2 of 11
We triathletes love our swim toys. Pull buoys, paddles, fins, snorkels--you name it, we likely have it in our enormous swim bag that we keep by our lane. Want to identify the triathlete in your Masters group? He's the guy wearing a snorkel, a set of paddles and a pull buoy for the entire main set. It's partly because we love our gadgets, but it's mostly because without these accessories we'd never be able to survive in the lane we've slipped into--and we refuse to go down a lane, dammit.
3. "How important can an aero helmet really be? It looks stupid."3 of 11
You're stupid. Okay, I'm sorry--I didn't mean that. It's just those valuable seconds per mile, well, they add up. And when you're trying to qualify for Kona, three minutes could be the difference between a ticket to Hawaii and spending your off-season eating Chunky Monkey thinking about what might've been had you only gone a little bit faster.
Furthermore, we think they look really cool. And feeling like you look really cool during a race? Well, that's a few minutes shaved off your finish time right there. Like I said, it adds up.
4. "You spent HOW much on [insert pretty much any triathlon-related item here]?4 of 11
I can understand how paying $800 for a race entry or $8,000 for a bike might seem ludicrous to a non-triathlete, but you must understand that triathlon is a sport of excess. The barrier to entry for triathlon is ridiculous and, much like a snobby country club in a movie, we like it that way.
Well, actually we don't like it at all, but we're too busy trying to figure out how to afford new race wheels to really think about the socio-economic implications of the sport right now anyway.
5. "It's 8 p.m. Why are you going to bed? Are you a small child?"5 of 11
Look, I've got a 5:15 a.m. Masters workout, a lunchtime run, an after work A.R.T. session to attend and at least 20 minutes trying to figure out which excuse I'm going to give my spouse for why I haven't been helping enough with the kids. I need all the sleep I can get.
6. "You exercise 20 hours a week, so why can't you do a single pull-up?"6 of 11
Triathlon is not a sport for upper body strength. We use largely our lower body to move repeatedly in the sagittal plane for miles on end until our hips can't take it anymore and we need to add yoga to our routine or visit a PT.
Yes, there are a few triathletes who have learned that weight lifting is actually an asset for speed and endurance--but they still don't dare admit this to their triathlon friends, for fear of the secret getting out.
So, until it does, don't depend on your triathlete friend to open a jar of pickles for you--unless you need someone to (literally) run to the store to get you pickles, in that case we're on it.
7. "Do you really need to analyze every single ride and run?"7 of 11
Look, buddy, analyzing my metrics to the nth degree is not only important--it sustains me. Does it matter if my watts during the last 20 minutes of yesterday's long ride were down 10 percent compared to last week? Yes. It means EVERYTHING. How else will I know what to mentally beat myself up over for the next 24 hours? And, most important, without data how else can I continue to steal all the QOMs from my local racing nemesis?
8. "If this is your day off, then why are you running?"8 of 11
They're called "active recovery days," and since the dawn of the sport triathletes have been using them to avoid taking actual rest days which, quite frankly, scare the hell out of us. Does it make physiological sense to not take rest days? Of course not--it's actually a prescription for illness and injury. But let me just go on a quick 40-minute shake-out run and I promise I'll rest next week...
9. "Do you stop to pee in the middle of a race or just wet yourself?"9 of 11
OK first, why do you care? Secondly, and I'll put this as delicately as possible--we absolutely wet ourselves. Unless there is some type of serious GI issue going on that necessitates a Porta-Potty stop, any competitive triathlete is going to stand up in the saddle mid-descent and let nature take its course.
C'mon man, that's like two minutes we could shave off our PR.
10. "I did an IRONMAN. It took me two hours and I walked the whole run."10 of 11
You did not do an IRONMAN. What you did was a triathlon, and most likely a sprint-distance one. There are many different lengths of triathlons, but only one iron-distance type of race. Confusing an IRONMAN (140.6 miles long) with a sprint-distance triathlon is not unlike mistaking a marathon for a turkey trot.
I've encountered this oversight so many times that I've considered making a handout to keep with me and give to people on such occasions.