Triathlons can be addictive. It's one of the best aspects of the sport.
And it's no wonder. Triathlon is a sport that is both a competitive race and a personal challenge. It can also inject a little adventure into our lives.
This addictive quality has likely helped triathlon experience a steady upward trend in participation over the past 20 years. However, this addiction can have a downside. Athletes love the sport so much, they over race. It's a mistake that will eventually lead to fatigue, burnout, and ultimately injury.
How many races are too many? There isn't one right answer to this question. There are just too many factors, such as: how long are your races, how experienced are you as a triathlete, how busy is your life, are you traveling to races or racing locally, how durable are you as an athlete, and so on.
Follow these three basic guidelines to determine the right amount of racing for you.
Determine What Kind of Racer You Are
Doing events to simply do events is fine. Not everyone has to be super competitive. Even competitive racers should participate in a no pressure event once in awhile.
However, if you are competitively focused in your triathlon life then you'll need to do fewer events and put more preparation and recovery into each race.
If you're doing races for fun and don't care so much about winning or placing in your age group you will have less mental and physical stress. In the end, it comes down to your definition of "fun." Do you like competition or do you like getting outside and enjoying the day? Keep in mind, they don't have to be mutually exclusive.
The Longer the Race, the Fewer You Should Do
The longer your races, the fewer of those races you'll be able to do in a year. A basic guideline of what is realistic for each distance for standard eight-month season is:
- 2-3 Iron distance (12 week preparation/4 week recovery)
- 4-5 Half Iron distance or XTERRA (6-8 week preparation/2-week recovery)
- 6-8 Olympic or Sprint distance (4-6 week preparation/1-week recovery)