The Unintended Consequences of Triathlon Triaining

The Unintended Consequences of Triathlon Triaining

A curious unintended consequence of triathlon training is peeing freely – often in public.

Still with me? Allow me to explain.

I listen to a lot of economics podcasts. I’m not an economist, nor am I educated as one. I just find the logic of economic deduction fascinating. Take, for instance, the Cobra Effect, an example of unintended consequences – when a well-intention decision leads to undesirable results.

When the British Raj in India had a problem with the number of cobras in urban centres, the municipal authority in Delhi decided to offer a bounty on cobra corpses: an economic incentive for the populace to thin the numbers of the venomous snakes. This seemed like a good idea, right? Economists and politicians use incentives all the time to promote an activity deemed beneficial.  The cobra corpses started to pile up. The government doled out bounties. The frequency of snakebites, however, did not diminish.  This seemed counterintuitive to the authorities who began to investigate. It turned out that the enterprising citizens of Delhi had been breeding the snakes to collect larger and larger bounties. Worse still, as soon as the bounty was rescinded, the cobra breeders released their now worthless charges into the wild, exacerbating the original problem.

Luckily the unintended consequences of triathlons are not as dire as an exploding population of venomous snakes. Here then, are ten:

  1. You pee freely. Sorry. Crass but true. It’s almost a sport tradition to warm up the wetsuit prior to a race. You do it, I do it, everyone around you at the swim start does it, and it’s totally cool. I can’t think of another sport which encourages public urination.
  2. You can change your clothes – especially shoes – really quickly. All that transition practice must count for something. Thank your triathlon training next time you’re late getting ready for a date. Just don’t pee in public on your date. That is not cool.
  3. You own more pairs of shoes than your significant other. This is especially neat if you are male.
  4. Eating! Contrary to what some believe, you can’t really eat whatever you want, but if you’re putting in the monster miles necessary for long course racing, you can eat a whole lot.
  5. You fall in love with your bike. You give it a name. It’s not just a two-wheeled machine taking up valuable real estate in your living room, it’s Marge or it’s Wallace. In fact, you probably spend more time in intimate contact with your bike than you do with anyone else. Sorry significant other, I am going on a date Marge.
  6. Your weekends are now planned around the long ride and the long run. Unwilling sitters are coerced or bribed to care for kids and dogs. Spouses are placated with promises of future together-time. Life stops until the long ride is in the books.
  7. You can’t walk past a high-end bike store without stopping in and drooling just a little. This behaviour is annoying to those walking with you, but it cannot be helped. Don’t fight it. Embrace the bike porn.
  8. You probably know the exact distance between your home and your work. You’ve rolled workouts into your commute and felt pretty damn proud of yourself.
  9. You (man) own more spandex than your wife or girlfriend, and you secretly start to think that you look better in spandex than she does anyway.

My personal favourite is number 10. Number 10 makes many of the challenges of triathlon worth the effort.

  1. You meet some pretty awesome people. No matter how much you think you know about the sport, you always find people who know way more. Regardless of the challenges you’ve overcome in getting to your current level of fitness, you always find those who have gone through much more. It’s inspiring. It’s a treat. Love you guys.


Helping you get where you’re going: in the water, on two wheels, on the pavement

Coach M

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