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Old 04-10-08, 07:09 PM   #1
San Diego, California
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skinny kid okay in triathlons?

I'm a pretty skinny high schooler, and have mainly been road cycling. Had surgery at the beginning of the 07 summer, couldn't do anything for three months, and ever since I've just biked.

Just last week I started getting into a little more weight training. Working on my chest, arms, and legs. Cycling just isn't enough so I've decided that a triathlon would be great.

some concerns

you don't' have to read the above. just crud about me. my questions are below:

1. crowded swimming
I've seen pictures of triathlons and the swimming looks really crowded. Assuming I do not keep up as well as the adults, how is the swimming like in terms of bumping into people or even people grabbing you (my least favorite)?

2. lengths
I cannot seem to find anything on the lengths of triathlons besides the ironman being 2.4/112/26
Thats what I'm aiming to be able to do by the summer of '10, but what are the local triathlons you guys do like?

3. wetsuit sizes
I'm 5'6'', and skinny. are there suits built for juniors/thinner guys? If not, I'll probably have to bear with the cold.

thanks guys, looks likes one hell of an endurance sport
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Old 04-10-08, 07:43 PM   #2
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if you got down a page or two there is a table with all the distances. def. build into that ironman
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Old 04-10-08, 07:50 PM   #3
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1. Pool swims, crowds are not an issue. As for open water, you have some control over how much of the fray you get into. You can always start near the back of the pack, or elect to swim more out to the side (my current practice).

2. For your first go, I would recommend a sprint, if for nothing else to get the feel of doing all 3 sports together. A sprint might go something like a 500m swim, a 15mile bike, and a 5k run.

3. Yes, there are suits for skinny guys. I should know, I am one. You can tell most places your height and weight and they will fit you. I've rented from and been pleased.

Above all, be sure to have fun! Triathlon is a great way to stay fit and enjoy healthy competition, but it can also simply be a lot of fun, no matter how competitive or non-competitve you may be.
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Old 04-10-08, 07:59 PM   #4
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Plainsman's advice is good. Start your first swim either at the back or side. Wait until you gain experience before trying the front or at the top of the pack. It's never intentional but you do get bumped, pushed, or literally run over at the front
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Old 04-10-08, 08:53 PM   #5
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thanks you three, sounding really good so far. I'll stay on the side, not wanting to be sputtering after getting run over, just to get run over some more.

hopefully I'll get my first lap swimming session in this weekend. weather seems to be warming up. about a year to get a tri-bike setup, gear, and tri-shorts.
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Old 04-10-08, 09:19 PM   #6
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You really aren't going to deal with swims that are crowded enough to be much of a bother until you hit iron distance events. Even then, you will only have those issues with 1000+ people starting at the same time. The reason is because the spectrum of speeds is so wide in an iron distance events, that people are trying to fight to a position in the field where they are swimming comfortably. I mean, I've done a mass start with about 300, and after the first 3 or 4 minutes, there was scarcely any contact at all (I mean, you might have some foot tapping, things like that, but nothing too serious). As far as grabbing goes, most people wont do it--here's why. The better you are as a swimmer, the more you have realized how important rhythm and efficiency are. Grabbing somebody, no matter how it's done, is going to stop your rhythm entirely, and change your body position for the worse. As such, most people realize the competitive disincentive to consciously disturb people around them.

My first traithlon ever (about 2 years ago, when I hadn't been in a pool in about half-a decade--let alone in a competitive scenario) I had to park myself behind the really fat guy wearing a snorkel. I just said, "don't let this guy beat you," and during the last 1/10 of a mile, I dropped him. I was pretty happy I even could muster enough strength to finish the 3/4 mile swim--a distance I don't recommend for your first triathlon. ...I also learned it's not good to attempt the full distance of the triathlon the day before the actual event. I later learned that, too, was an error in judgement.

The cool part about starting in the back? You are going to pass people...I guarantee it. It's a good way to build your confidence up during your first open water tri.
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Old 04-11-08, 08:36 AM   #7
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Hmmm... My experiences with open water swims have been different. I am a strong swimmer & still found (even in a sprint race) many people banging/kicking/pulling me.

If you are really concerned, do a couple pool swim races to start off. As an added bonus, no need to worry about the wetsuit in a pool.
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Old 04-11-08, 11:17 AM   #8
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Check out for races in your area. You are pretty much in the Triathlon Mecca of the US. There are several good Sprint & Olympic distance events in SD and their websites all specify the swim/run/bike distances.
Fredo, you're my older brother and I love you...but don't ever take sides, with anyone, against the family again...ever.
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Old 04-14-08, 04:17 PM   #9
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Skinny kids do good. You've got nothing to worry about - no waste mass weighing you down.

The standard advice for a first open-water swim is to start at the back or edge, so you're out of the melee. It's frisky in there but not mean. I got kicked in the face last summer (my fault, I went foot-kissin') and I'm still alive. And I'm a wuss.


Wetsuits: Most endurance athletes are skinny. Most wetsuits are sized to fit a leaner physique. You should be okay. Me, I have issues finding one for my fat ass, but you'll be golden.
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