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The Everyman: Runners vs. Triathletes

  • By Jason Devaney
  • Published Oct. 10, 2013
Triathlons could pass for lycra conventions. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

In which category do you fall?

It’s no secret I’m a triathlete. Heck, it even says so in my bio at the bottom of this story.

When the subject of my athletic pursuits comes up in conversation with someone, I say I’m a triathlete. Or a cyclist.

But never a runner (apologies to my bosses at Competitor).

This doesn’t mean that I don’t run, however. I, of course, do.

I got to thinking, do other triathletes call themselves triathletes instead of runners? And, how are these folks different than the ones whose main form of exercise is running? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Here’s what I came up with:

Triathletes Like Lycra

It’s just who we are. In an effort to be as aerodynamic as possible on the bike, we choose to wear skintight outfits that often leave men’s midriffs exposed. I often think about what I’ll do in my first Ironman and whether or not I’ll change into more traditional running gear (loose shorts and a shirt) after the bike leg. My answer is a resounding no. Lycra and I have become good buddies.

The Triathlon Shuffle

This one is more for the amateur triathletes among us. In lieu of spending countless hours perfecting our running form so that we look like Ryan Hall floating on top of the asphalt, we divide our training time between swimming, biking and running. Something is bound to suffer, and often that’s running form. Plus, how do you think our legs feel after cycling? In Ironman races, people seem to forget we actually run a marathon at the end. And by run, I mean shuffle our legs forward as much as we can until we hit the finish line. It’s not always pretty. We know.

We don’t Like Shoelaces

At least not the traditional kind. The next time you’re at a road race, look at the runners’ shoes. They’re most likely laced up and tied in the standard way. Now go to a triathlon and look at the shoes. We have speed laces, pieces of plastic that hold the laces together, and even shoes without laces at all. It’s all for speed, since we try to save as much time as possible when we’re transitioning from one leg of the race to the next.

We’re Obsessed With Gadgets

The latest craze is those giant do-everything triathlon watches. What’s cool is you can wear it on your wrist during the swim, twist the watch off the base and attach it your bike, and put it back on your wrist for the run. It calculates splits for every leg of the triathlon, displays your heart rate and the number of watts you’re pushing on the bike, shows your current and average speeds, does your grocery shopping, and even takes the kids to soccer practice. Yeah, it’s that cool. And it looks like a Volkswagen Beetle on your wrist. Runners tend to wear a more modest watch that is made for running and nothing else. Think flatscreen monitors (runners) vs. the old-school monitors (triathletes) that were deeper than they were wide.

We Eat A Lot

If you thought marathon runners had big appetites, hang out with a triathlete when they’re training for a couple days. His appetite will dwarf yours. Before you judge and start calling us bottomless pits, think about how you would feel if you had to swim a few thousand yards at the pool in the morning, followed by a 6-mile run at night. Or on the weekends, which often call for a 70-mile bike ride and a 12-mile run — back-to-back. Triathletes eat before workouts, during workouts, and after workouts. And then they eat again in two hours.

So, who wants to jump ship and join me?

FILED UNDER: Staff Blog / The Everyman TAGS: / / /

Jason Devaney

Jason Devaney

Jason Devaney is a freelance contributor to all of the Competitor Group brands. When he's not sitting at his computer working, he's usually out doing one of three things: Swimming, biking, or running. A resident of Virginia, Jason ran his first marathon in 2011.

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