How to finish a triathlon with no training [Fitness Friday]


As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for the Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon in nearby Naperville at what was basically the last minute. Well, okay, I signed up 6 days beforehand.

Last year I spent every Monday night in January through May swimming laps in a pool and then most Saturday mornings starting in May swimming in Lake Michigan. I did long bike rides of 45 miles and ran once or twice a week. I was FREAKED OUT about swimming half a mile and had to do deep breathing exercises at the start of the 2015 Esprit de She triathlon.

This year? I hadn’t done a stroke of swimming since last August. I’d been out on my bike exactly once. Granted, I rode almost 60 miles, but still. But, I have been lifting weights 4 days a week and doing one or two days a week of cardio. I’ve run two half marathons since January 2016 and several shorter races.

And on race day this year I was completely calm. I let out a few curse words when I realized I’d forgotten my fuel that I wanted to take on the bike, but I figured I’d survive. I’d packed an emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I had a leftover Clif Shot Blok in my bag and those would just have to do.

While waiting for the swim to start I ended up chatting with a girl I went to high school with. We were on the dance team together our senior year and apparently we still look close enough to how we looked in high school to recognize one another even in triathlon gear! Crazy, right?


The first few strokes of the swim felt a little awkward and it took awhile for my arms and shoulders to warm up. Swimming is way more of an upper body workout than I remembered!

Still, I finished the swim only 31 seconds slower than 2015.


My first transition was soooo slow. I’m definitely out of practice there. Of course, I think it’s partly because I stopped to scarf down some of that PB&J.

Out on the bike I caught up to my high school classmate and we leap-frogged one another for a bit. She definitely helped me push it when I was flagging because of the ridiculous headwind we had to ride into for half of the course. In the end, I completed the bike course almost a minute faster than in 2015. Thank you, squats and deadlifts.

My second transition time was almost identical to 2015 and I think the only reason it’s 9 seconds slower this year is because I actually remembered to put on my race bib number belt. I totally forgot it in 2015!

The run after riding always feels super weird and this year was no exception. Hilariously, I’ve probably done less than 10 “brick” (bike-run) workouts in my life. And this year my run time was one second faster than 2015. So, I’m definitely consistent there!


When I signed up, one of the Live Grit coaches said that it probably wouldn’t be my greatest race but I’d definitely finish. Well, finish I did and only 1:14 slower than in 2015!

So, if I had to tell someone how to do a triathlon with no training I’d say the following:

1. Make sure you’ve done at least one triathlon before so you know what to expect. Preferably the same event so you REALLY know what to expect.

2. Lift a lot of weights. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: lifting weights will keep you in amazing shape. Especially if you’re lifting heavy.

3. Don’t have a goal time for anything. Be pleasantly surprised when you do better than you thought you would.



3 replies on “How to finish a triathlon with no training [Fitness Friday]

  1. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    Seriously, you’re a rockstar. I’m so impressed! I wouldn’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if triathlon is a bit like running, in that after you’ve done something the first time, it’s less intimidating later on – you still have a healthy respect/fear for the distance and race, but it’s not quite as paralyzing as your first go, since you know you’ve done it before. Though there’s a bit of a difference between doing a 5K whenever because I feel like it and doing a tri when you haven’t been doing any tri-specfic training! Huge congrats on your finish – you’re awesome!

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