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Do Triathlons Cause Anxiety?



At dinner last night an uber fitness-y friend of mine (we ran the NYC marathon together and she already has a tri under her belt as well) relayed a story to me about a friend of hers who trained for a triathlon for a year only to have a panic attack as soon as he entered the water. As someone about to compete in her first tri, I hear stories like this more often than I’d like. Yes, open water can be frightening and the chaos of everyone rushing into the water at once seems overwhelming, but I’ve been pretty calm about it all until this point. And then I woke up this morning from my first tri-centered nightmare!
As far as nightmares go, this one was pretty tame: I wasn’t in any kind of danger, I just wasn’t prepared. It was the morning of the tri and I was moving like molasses. It took me hours just to get dressed, to find my stuff, to pack my gear. The dream ended with my missing the event because I couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.
To play therapist for a moment, I guess this means my subconscious is worried about not being ready. Which is true. In fact, I think my conscious is worried about not being ready too. Not physically, I think SHAPE’s 12-week training plan has gotten me fit enough to handle all three sports, but I still have so many questions floating around in my head: How long will it take me? When should I eat gu? What do I need in the transition area? When do I set up my stuff in the transition area? Does someone else do that for me?
Thankfully, I still have a few weeks to figure all this out. Next week, I’m going to reach out to one of the race directors of the NJ State Triathlon to hopefully get these answered. Do you have any questions you’d like me to ask? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @DaniSMcNally, then stay tuned for an upcoming blog post.

Danielle McNally is the associate fitness editor at SHAPE magazine, where she reports on the latest news, trends, and gear in the exercise world, along with the occasional travel and pop culture piece. She was previously an assistant editor at Food Network Magazine, but left shortly after completing the ING New York City Marathon, when she realized her passion for working out. She’s run seven half marathons, and regularly practices yoga and pilates. This summer she’ll be competing in the New Jersey State Triathlon (her first!) and blogging about it here!


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