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Is A Triathlon Too Tough?



My parents are incredibly supportive people, but when I told them I was going to compete in a triathlon, they weren’t exactly thrilled. Just like they weren’t exactly thrilled a few years ago when I called to say I was training for a marathon. They didn’t react negatively, but they seemed torn between wanting me to do what makes me happy, and wanting what’s best for me—and my health.
After two competitors died during last year’s NYC Nautica Triathlon, they have a right to be concerned. Countless people have told me that they believe our bodies weren’t built for such intense endurance sports; that it’s much more healthful to do workouts that are conscientious and require a mind-body connection, like yoga or pilates. 
Those are two different arguments, I think, and they’re both worth addressing: First off, not to belittle the difficulty of a sprint-distance race, but it’s not as though I’m attempting an Ironman (a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a marathon), for which I’d need to make drastic fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. All the workouts in SHAPE’s plan are consistent with the ACSM’s recommended guidelines for weekly physical activity. Plus, I’m being careful not to overtrain and to allow my body to recover appropriately so that I don’t get injured. 
From the mind-body perspective, I’ll admit: One of the things I like a lot about running, for instance, is that I can just get outside and do it without thinking about anything. Is that bad? Maybe. I’m not sure. I think swimming, biking, and running can all be meditative: You get your strokes, cadence, or steps into a rhythm and sync your breathing with it. Perhaps because I allow myself to zone out, I’m not as acutely aware of how my body is responding to the movement as I am in my weekly yoga class. Maybe that’s how injuries creep in. My solution: A trip to my favorite yoga studio for some light, thoughtful exercise on one of my rest days. 
What about you? What do you do for active recovery or on your rest days? Do you think training for such a demanding sport is dangerous? Can it be mindful? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @DaniSMcNally

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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