Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do you "do triathlons", or are you a "triathlete"?

4 days until my first triathlon. Current weather forecast for the day: Sunny with a high of 18c (64f).

A topic up for debate in the tri community: what makes a person a triathlete? Is it anybody that has ever done a triathlon? Is it somebody that continues to do triathlons? Are only the pros triathletes? Do you have to do an ironman to claim the title? Perhaps only Kona is good enough?

Here's my personal opinion: a Triathlete is somebody that has done at least one triathlon and intends to continue doing triathlons. If you've done one, checked it off your bucket list, and never intend to do another, you are not a triathlete. You are simply someone that has done a triathlon.

Sort of like golfing. A few years ago, I learned how to golf and went golfing a couple times. But, I don't continue to golf, so I am not a golfer. On the other hand, my father in law is a golfer. He golfs every week when the weather is nice enough. He isn't a professional, but he still has the right to use the title of "golfer" in reference to himself.

I also don't think you have to do an ironman to call yourself a triathlete. You only need to do an ironman if you want to call yourself an ironman.

So, by my own guidelines, I could claim the title of "triathlete" Saturday evening after I have completed my first triathlon, but I'm hesitating. Why? I'm not sure I think it counts because it's a pool swim. I kind of feel that I need to experience the open water swim in a race before I claim that title.

What do you think? When will you call yourself a triathlete?

On another note, check out this post at Racing with Babes. It's a post that really strikes a chord with me and I suspect may with a lot of us.


  1. I totally agree with you. I am just now becoming comfortable with calling myself a triathlete, after racing 3 tris over the past 3 years. I think now that I have made a commitment to train and intend on sticking with it after my "A" race, I've earned that title.

    Glad you enjoyed to post!

  2. I saw this conversation on BT (?) too and it really got me to thinking...I have a hard time calling myself a triathlete in some situations. Although I've been doing them for several years now and have completed both sprint and oly distance an am training for 70.3. I think the problem I struggle with is thinking of myself as an athlete. I even somtimes tend to call it exercising instead of training. I do believe I'm a triathlete...just have a hard time calling myself one....maybe some day I'll get over this.

  3. I agree with you. Even taking a break from tri's, I still consider myself one.

  4. I am a triathlete. I train in all three disciplines. Not a week goes by that I am not swimming/biking/running. If I do a half marathon run..it is training for triathlon. I think you have to make the commitment to each aspect of the sport to consider yourself a triathlete. If you are a runner that really does not swim or bike but has done a triathlon...I think you are a runner.

    I dont think just doing a triathlon makes you a triathlete. I have gone skidiving but I do not consider myself a skydiver. And yeah, I have gone golfing but no way would I call myself a golfer...it would be an insult to those that are, lol.

    I am not sure ay what point I considered myself a triathlete. Maybe it was when someone else called me one? I have done sprints, Olympic, Half IM and this year will be a Ironman ( no maybe about it) but I agree 100% that it is not the distance that give you the title. I don't think Simon Whitfield has done an Ironman but he is an amazing triathlete.

    It is quite funny that you did a blog post on this, I have thought about this before. If someone that I would not consider a triathlete wants to call themsleves one I won't lose any sleep over it ;). I just know that I can call myself one every day I train or toe the start line of a race.

    Good luck on Sunday Deb. And if I were you I would call myself a triathlete when you cross the line, pool swim or not.

  5. I agree with you. I use both terms when referring to myself. Currently I am not really training for triathlons, although I will be doing one in August. So right now I don't refer to myself as a triathlete, but I have in the past.

    I know lots of triathletes who compete in pool swim triathlons. Doesn't make them less of a triathlete in my books!!