by Stephen Kurczewski, BS, USA Triathlon Level 2, CSCS
I’m often asked this exact question by eager triathletes who have just completed their first or second race and feeling like they can tackle the next distance. Helping athletes step up in distance has become my favorite coaching scenario. Going from Sprint to Olympic or from long course to ultra-distance always has a mystique to an ambitious daydreaming athlete. This mystique and excitement is still fresh in my mind from each time I signed up for the next challenge. Perhaps I’m living vicariously through these athletes I coach – their energy is contagious; maybe that’s why I like it so much.
By the way, the answer is absolutely, positively, YES! 6 years ago I was a hulking 240 pound weightlifting rugby player when I realized I needed to switch gears and start chasing my dream of running a marathon. I am now a 3 time Ironman finisher who climbed each rung of the distance ladder having no idea how I would get there or if I could. I did have help along the way. Jon Stellwagen, my first coach and now good friend, guided me to build the aerobic conditioning foundation my body needed to finish and instilled in me the confidence my mind needed to believe I could.
There is good reason participation in endurance events is growing by double digits year after year, training for and completing in an event is a transformative experience. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The lifestyle requires commitment, consistency and discipline. But the habits you develop will carry over to all aspects of your life. So if you’ve got a flicker of desire about doing your first triathlon or going longer, seek out a mentor or coach to help you layout the path. It’s worth it.