Run Lessons from my First Triathlon

It’s not going to feel normal.

If you’re going into triathlons from running, you’re going to assume that the ending will be fun – that you’ll spring off the bike and fly. Because after all, you’re a runner. This will be the easy part. The grande finale.

But… no.

You’re going to get off that bike, and you’re going to feel like your legs are made of jello.

You will start running and it won’t feel like you’re actually running. It probably won’t feel like anything, except numb jello that is miraculously moving forward. Then you’ll look around, and you’ll notice everyone else is doing an awkward forward shuffle also. At least for the first half mile. Unless you’re elite. But even the Olympic distance runners who were lapping us novice sprint distance runners were running an awkward, low to the ground, short and shuffling gait.

The more “brick” workouts you do to prepare for your triathlon (running immediately after biking), the more prepared you’ll be for this jello feeling in your legs.

That said, while I didn’t feel I could go that fast, it didn’t hurt, either. I just kept going, legs feeling wobbly and slightly numb, just kept them moving perpetually forward until I crossed the finish line. And as a runner, I could do that. It didn’t feel that hard. As long as I settled in and stayed steady, I was fine. (I felt like I was going to fall over or hurl when I tried to pick it up, so I settled in, and it was ok.)


So it wasn’t the “grande finale” I may have hoped for. I did not get off that bike and run my 5k pace. Those were not fresh legs I was working with.

BUT… being a runner going into a triathlon is awesome, because once I got to the running, I knew I would make it. I might have been sad not to be sprinting across the finish line or throwing down a personal best 5k time, but I never felt the need to stop. I was fine. I could make it. I was in my comfort zone, and I was breathing easy.

There’s something to be said for that. It’d be nice to be a swimmer going into triathlons, but a runner is a next best bet. When you’re your most tired, you’re your most confident, too.

It was a little like dreaming, moving forward, not quite feeling my legs. But I’ve done so much running that being on autopilot wasn’t a problem. I just checked out and waited to get to the end. I’m not sure I could have done that if I didn’t come from running… and I really needed that after pushing myself through the swim and buckling down so I could pass people on the bike.

I’m glad I did the Lake Sebago Tri – it set my expectations a little better and gave me tips for every section of the race.

I’m going to sight better for the swim.

Shift more often on the bike.

Not expect as much from my legs on the run.

Tri For a Cure, here I come 🙂