You have done a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon. Maybe you are a Masters swimmer or have done some open water swims. Maybe you are a dedicated cyclist and crush centuries on the weekends. Have you ever wanted to do more? If you are like me then one sport simply wasn’t enough. Congratulations on wanting to take the next step! I am extremely passionate about getting people into multisports. Like a crossfitter, I want every person I meet to do a multisport with me. My wife used to be solely a runner and now she is dedicated to duathlons. So let me help guide you as you start this journey into multisports.
1. Pick a small local race
I know many of you are going to say, “But I haven’t even started to train!”. I get that. Trust me on this though. By selecting a race before you even train you are going to give yourself the motivation you need to keep up with the training. It is way easier to quit something if there is nothing at stake. So pick a race and sign up. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to train for the race. I am not going to sit here and give you a timetable on the optimal time frame needed in training for a race. You know yourself and your current athletic status better than I do. So use some common sense.
Registering for a USAT (USA Triathlon) sanctioned event means that the race will count in your point average for rankings (See here if you don’t know about this system). This is helpful for numerous reasons but one of the biggest benefits is simply being able to compare yourself to everyone in the country for your age group. However, in order to register for a USAT sanctioned event you are going to have to get a membership to USAT. A year long membership for USAT is $50 and gives you a couple perks like discounts to various companies and services and lets you register for any multisport event during that year without paying again. If you plan on doing a lot of races (more than 3) than getting this membership is worth it. Otherwise, there is a less costly way to race. USAT provides “One-Day” membership for $15 that lets you race without having to pay for the entire year. If this is going to be your first race and you aren’t sure whether you will do any more or whether you will even like it, I would go with this route.
Here is a list of all the USAT Sanctioned Events
2. Get the proper gear for training
Don’t spend thousands of dollars on equipment to race in prior to even knowing whether you like the sport or not. The easiest way to avoid this is to simply get what you need for training day-to-day. Is it a new pair of shoes, a bathing suit, or just a regular road bike and a helmet? No need for racing flats, a high end wetsuit, or a $10,000 carbon fiber Tri/TT bike. If you find yourself falling in love with the sport while training and want a little edge at your first race you can always rent most of that super expensive gear. You should always try before you buy when you are just starting out.
3. Train properly
The training world for any multisport is all about consistency. You don’t need to go out and train as much as Lionel Sanders to do well in a race. But you do need to be as consistent. No matter whether it is a sprint distance event or an Ironman, you have to put the work in. Break the training down into little parts and just get it done. With that being said, don’t follow your training plan like a bible. Think of your training plan as a guide and not a law and you will be much better off. Most of you reading this are not professional multisport athletes who dedicate 8 hours a day to this. You probably have a job, a life, a family, and more. So shit happens. Understand that but realize that 10 minutes of a 40 minute scheduled run is better than 0 minutes of a 40 minute scheduled run. Fit it in when you can but stay consistent.
4. Train both sports…unevenly
This may come as a strange tip but it is true. Most of you will be adding on a second sport to one they are already good at. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen people make is to train the sport they are good at just as much as they do the new sport they are adding on. Don’t do this. I made the mistake here in being a good swimmer and thinking that I needed to continue to train extremely hard to excel in races. I thought that I would just go really hard on the swim and give myself a nice cushion in the run. However, if I focused on the running I would have been able to make greater time strides in the overall race even with sacrificing a second or two per 100yd in the swim. I realized quickly that coming out of a mile swim with a minute lead is only 10 seconds per mile during a 10k run.
5. Have fun
The worst thing that I see in the world of multisports is athletes that are slaves to the training and the races. They beat themselves up, put too much pressure on themselves, and worst of all is that they aren’t having fun. Listen, I get that not every 5am track session is going to be met with extreme enthusiasm. Overall though, the process and journey should be something you genuinely enjoy. If you find yourself dragging and dreading every workout, still bummed after the workout, and stressing 24/7 then maybe a multisport isn’t for you.