Announcing the No Meat Athlete Triathlon Roadmap

It was a curse word and a triathlon that brought me to No Meat Athlete.

As a new vegetarian, and even newer triathlete, I was a bit lost. Whenever I’d Google “vegetarian triathlete,” the results were sparse and not at all helpful. I only knew one plant-based person — who chastised me for being “only” a vegetarian — and one triathlete, an omnivore who chastised me for thinking I could do a triathlon on a diet that was, as he said, “completely stupid.”

Though on opposite ends of the spectrum — one vegan, one omnivore — their bottom line was the same:

I was doing everything wrong.

At first I’d shrink away, full of self-doubt. Sometimes, I’d even shelve my triathlon ambitions altogether. But one day I decided that I didn’t need anyone else’s answers; I only needed to find my own.

I was going to be a triathlete, I was going to do it as a vegetarian, and anyone who told me I couldn’t could just go eff themselves.

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22 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Your First Triathlon

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It’s triathlon season! Shout it with me, people: IT’S TRIATHLON SEASON!

I haven’t always been such an overeager pain in the ass about this sport. I used to be scared — really scared — before triathlon races. I knew what I was doing as a runner, but triathlon was just so … complicated.

With running races, it’s simple: get a bite to eat and hit the porta-pot ahead of time, and beyond the actual running, there’s not a whole lot that can go wrong. But triathlons are a different beast, with not just three sports to worry about, but also the transitions and plenty of logistical opportunities for bigtime screw-ups that bodies of water and racks of bikes add to the mix.

Before my first few triathlon races, my hands would shake as I quietly set up my bike in transition area, and instead of confidently rehearsing what I needed to execute during the race, I’d focus on everything that could go wrong:

  • What if I have a panic attack during the swim and hyperventilate?
  • What if I forget where I put my bike and wander around transition like an idiot?
  • What if I drop a water bottle and get dehydrated?
  • What if I make a total ass of myself?

Sound like you?

Fears like these prevent a lot of runners from ever jumping into the triathlon game, and it’s a shame. In addition to providing runners with more strength than ever before (cycling is an excellent cross-training activity), accomplishing the mental challenge of triathlon gives an athlete more tricks in their wheelhouse for breaking through “the wall” of their next road race. On a personal note, triathlon has given me confidence I didn’t have before, introduced me to friends around the world, and led me to a new career with No Meat Athlete and print magazines Competitor and Triathlete. Triathlon has changed my life – literally. All because I took a chance on a new sport.

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12 Guidelines for Fueling Your Triathlon

Post written by Susan Lacke.

Like most new triathletes — especially those who started out as runners — I had a lot of really strange questions when I first decided to take on a triathlon.

Though I was comfortable as a runner, learning how to add a swim and bike turned me into an inquisitive pain in the ass around my triathlete friends:

“Why do you wear those pointy helmets? Can I wear arm floaties on the swim? Where did all the men’s body hair go?”

One of the questions I had was particularly puzzling:

How the heck does anyone eat at these things?

I know I’m not alone in that bewilderment. As I’ve worked on the upcoming No Meat Athlete Triathlon Roadmap, I’ve encountered a lot of people who once felt the same way. For many runners-turned-triathletes, their fueling routine for running was nailed down, but triathlon was weird.

In a marathon, I knew to fuel early and often, taking in carbohydrates nearly from the start of the race. So in a triathlon, did that mean I was supposed to start eating during the swim?

What? How? Didn’t Grandma say something about waiting an hour?

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The 8 Biggest Triathlon Myths … Busted!

Post written by Susan Lacke.

iStock 000004234157XSmallAs a triathlete, I’m always interested to hear how others perceive the sport. Judging by the reactions of most people, there are more reasons not to do triathlon than there are compelling arguments to give the sport the old college try.

The “facts” I’ve heard about triathlons, however, are mostly untrue. From simple misunderstandings about the distances involved to exaggerated claims about the safety of the swim, there are a lot of triathlon myths out there. Here are the eight most common misconceptions about the sport I’ve heard, along with why you shouldn’t let such pish-posh stop you from becoming a triathlete.

Myth #1: Triathlons are longer than marathons.

 “I heard about those triathlons … they start really early in the morning and are still running at midnight!”

When people think “triathlon,” they sometimes think “Ironman,” a long-course triathlon that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Though Ironman is one kind of triathlon, it’s not the only triathlon.

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28 Ideas to Help You Afford Those Pesky Running and Triathlon Habits

Post written by Susan Lacke.

New York marathon 2011

#1: Skip the big city, big brand races and go for smaller, local ones.

“Running is becoming so … elitist.” sighed a friend recently. “It used to be so cheap to just put on a pair of shoes and do a 5K, but now it’s ridiculously expensive. And triathlon, ha! Don’t even get me started on triathlon.”

The statement gave me pause. Is it really that expensive? In my head, I did the math:

A marathon entry fee can be pricey, sure. According to FindMyMarathon.com, at least 41 marathons in the United States charge more than $100 to enter. The New York City Marathon, for example, has a $255 entry fee.

Of course, you’d need the proper running shoes, socks, shorts, shirts … let’s throw in a hat, too. We’ll say, ballpark … $200. And a watch, for $35 — unless you want GPS, then we’re looking at a couple hundred dollars. You eat more, too, so there’s an increase in your everyday food budget. Speaking of food, I need to go buy a box of gels ($34).

That’s just for running. My friend was right – don’t even get me started on triathlon.

But is it elitist? I’m not quite buying what she’s selling. It really doesn’t have to be that expensive. Over the past few years, I’ve found a few tricks for saving cash as a runner and triathlete. Here are 28 tips that will have you paying like a pauper, but running like a prince.

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Thinking about Your First Ironman? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start

Hi Susan. I read your blog on your fabulous finish at Ironman Wisconsin and I was really inspired! I’ve been googling around about the race for awhile, just finished my first half Ironman, and am flirting with the idea of IMWI 2014.

 I guess I worry about how much investment I need to make–do I have to buy a tri bike, hire a trainer, etc?

-Margaret

susan finish image1About once a week, I get an e-mail like Margaret’s. Every time, I have to exercise restraint.

If it were up to me, I’d register every triathlete for an Ironman. Heck, I’d probably register non-triathletes for an Ironman, too. After all, I’m the one who says Anyone Can Do an Ironman.

And so, with every e-mail like this one, I suppress the urge to respond with an OVERLY ENTHUSIASTIC MESSAGE! BECAUSE! IRONMAN! IS! SO! RAD!!! (I, ahem, use a lot of capital letters and exclamation points to convey said enthusiasm. Also, 90’s-era words like “rad.” Told you I had to exercise restraint.)

If you’re considering taking on an Ironman triathlon, consider these questions first.

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The Beginning Cyclist’s Guide to the Rules of the Road (and All Those Funny Hand Signals)

iStock 000003568033XSmallIf you’ve started cycling to become a stronger runner, you’ve probably discovered the rules of the road are often confusing, misunderstood, and, sadly, ignored.

It isn’t out of spite — it’s usually just lack of knowledge. However, when cyclists don’t follow the laws, they don’t just put themselves at risk, they give a bad name to other cyclists.

You know how people are always bitchin’ about how cyclists think they own the road? This is what I’m talking about.

But most cyclists aren’t reckless asshats — and yet that stereotype about cyclists is prevalent in almost every community.

To help clear the air, I’ve invited Laura, badass triathlete from one of my favorite sites, Frayed Laces, to help me put together a primer on what you should know before you hit the road, whether on your own or in a group.

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The One Thing Harder than Ironman

It was one year ago that I told you about Carlos and his cancer diagnosis. Many of you responded to “You Have to Fight” and the follow-up columns about him, “The One Word to Ignore” and “Out There: Never Stop Fighting” with an outpouring of support for him.

For weeks, I’ve been working on a one-year update for you. It’s been difficult to write — every time I sit down, I’m filled with tears, laughter, and pride for my best friend.

Recently, Carlos was asked to give a speech about his experience as a cancer fighter. As soon as I read it, I threw all of my drafts for this article away. No one can tell the story better than he can.

livestrong imageI am not here for pleasant conversation.

I write to you about things that happen to people — bad people and good people. Things that make some cry, and question life’s fairness and God’s existence. But it’s OK, because I know I am in good company. Many of you have likely gone through hell and back. I know, like you, how it feels being in pain, scared, hopeless, helpless, defeated, cheated, and alone.

But I also know we are made of some tough stuff. Every one of us is equipped to climb over obstacles. We are all made to fight and never give up.

One year ago

I was what people call “super-fit.” My sport makes regular people cry in pain just watching it on TV! Ironman consists of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running 26.2 miles, a full marathon, in less than 16 hours. I have done this 13 times in races across the United States and Europe.

I was in the midst of training for yet another Ironman last April when I suddenly got sick. It wasn’t a gradual, progressive illness. One day I rode my bike for 6 hours, and the next I had emergency surgery. In an instant, everything changed.

One year ago, I was told that I had Stage IV colon cancer, the most advanced stage of cancer.

The tumors in my colon had metastasized to the lymph nodes and to the liver. With luck and chemotherapy every oncologist said I could live another year, but the odds of survival beyond that were slim. Liver surgery is an option for some with my cancer, but I was not a candidate for it, as I had too many tumors.

The doctors didn’t say it outright, but I could tell what they were thinking: Start writing your will.

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