I just read this article, which led me to ask the question; Why are triathlons full of middle-aged people? I was going to ask why triathlons are full of middle-aged, fat people, but I haven’t seen that many fat people in triathlons. Not to say I haven’t seen any–I’ve seen some really fat people in triathlons, even in the half-Ironman I did, and wow, that’s impressive. I mean, it’s impressive that I finished a half-Ironman, but some of these people were even fatter than I was. Some of them were a lot fatter. But there weren’t that many people fatter than I was, so I can’t really say I’ve seen all that many fat people doing triathlons. What I have noticed is that although I’m 34, most of the people I race with seem to be at least 30. Sure, there are young’uns there too, but if I had to guess I’d say 2/3 of racers are 30+. But why?
It’s an easy jab to say it’s just a response to a mid-life crisis. But that doesn’t reveal the underlying reasons behind the mid-life crisis, nor the attending question “Why triathlon?” Why not a new, completely impractical, sports car? Why not a new wardrobe from Banana Republic and a new hairstyle? Why not start listening to your kids’ music? Actually, my oldest is almost two-years old, and I have been listening to more Kindermusik than I care to admit lately, but that’s not in response to a mid-life crisis, I swear. Here are five reasons why triathlon is the response du jour to the mid-life crisis many of us are having these days:
1. We’re fat. We weren’t fat 10 years ago, so doing a triathlon never crossed our minds. I mean, who would have the motivation to start this type of thing if they weren’t in a desperate situation to begin with? We weren’t back then, but we are now, so here we are, spending 10-20 hours per week in response to a condition that snuck up and grabbed us around the waist when we weren’t looking.
2. We’re ready to admit we’re fat. You were probably fat at 30, but it took you until you were 34 to admit it and start doing triathlons. Before that, you were svelt, stocky, husky, strong, burly, or manly (I’m talking to the men here, please don’t get offended womenfolk, you probably have your own set of reasons that are different than ours). Then you finally admitted those were all words designed to disguise the fact that you were fat.
3. We have some money. Actually, I had more money 10 years ago…what’s wrong with this picture?
4. Triathlon is real, and real is the new fake. We’re done with anything Chuck Norris is selling, the latest diet drink, lipo, or any and all of those fad diets. We always knew those things didn’t work. We always knew it was going to be hard work to get in shape, and when we looked around and asked “What’s really, really hard?” someone responded “You should do a triathlon,” and we thought “Yep, that’s what it’s going to take, I guess.” Triathlon replaces all those surgeries, diets, and pills sold on late-night infomercials with something we know will work or kill us in the process, and it only costs three times as much as any of those other things.
5. It works. Somehow signing up for an event, training for it because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t, changing your diet because you’re afraid of what will happen to your training if you don’t, doing the event, hesitantly signing up for another, and then doing that and realizing your time is 25% better than your first one leads to an addiction, and the next thing you know you’ve lost 30 lbs. but you see no reason to stop doing triathlons, because you have somehow come to like doing them and all that goes with the training, and you recognize that your life has changed forever, and even all those receipts for $40 containers of drink mix can’t bring you down.