“Should I join a triathlon club? Will I be good enough? What are the benefits? What are the people like?” Allow 220 columnist (and avid tri club member) Martyn Brunt and RG Active Head Coach Dermott Hayes to answer all your questions…
“One of the best things about joining a tri club is the fantastic array of nutters you’ll meet along the way, who will slowly convince you that swimming in water cold enough to make the enamel drop off your teeth is perfectly normal behaviour, and that running races actually don’t count unless you cycle to them.
People in tri clubs are almost always welcoming and friendly, not least because with a fresh arrival they have someone new to stealth-brag to about their PBs!
There’s a high likelihood that after getting to know people you’ll be lured into going to some mad event with them, and I’ve ended up doing Ironmans, a Channel swim, Belgian bike races and cross-country runs that looked like the closing credits to Dad’s Army, as a direct result of being swept up in the enthusiasm of training with a group of highly-engaging loons.
Existing ability matters not one jot when joining a club, because we all remember how clueless we were when we started, and you’ll find members happy to share knowledge and experiences – indeed you’ll probably find that, being triathletes, they’ll start competing with each other to be the most helpful.
You’ve also got the whole social scene to look forward to with events like the Club Relays and annual dinners almost making up for the inevitable hell of the AGM. Awards nights are always particular fun giving excellent opportunities to gloat if you’ve won a club trophy, and to laugh at old photos of ‘senior’ members racing in Speedos.
I joined my club in 2002 and the people I met then remain among my closest friends to this day – meaning that we still try desperately to beat each other in local races. Join a club and expand your horizons – I guarantee it will be one of the best things you ever do!”
“We all have reservations about joining a new group, especially if you think you might be judged by physical prowess. Luckily, triathletes are mostly a very accepting and unassuming bunch, and tri clubs are the perfect place to develop and improve as an athlete. What you need to remember is that the other athletes have all been in the same ‘newbie’ position as you at some point!
Triathlon is an individual sport, but the benefits of group training far outweigh going solo. A tri club will have athletes of all abilities, all ages and with very different goals, so you’re much more likely to find somebody else with similar objectives. Some will be Ironman-focussed or competing for the GB age-group team while others will be focusing on their first sprint tri. But, ultimately, everybody plays an important role in the club and you’ll also make new like-minded friends.
Most tri clubs have a head coach who will be responsible for structuring regular training sessions, and they will be a useful source of information. Many athletes get stale when they train on their own as they repeat the same sessions each week/month/year, so having a coach to organise sessions for you gives a fresh buzz to your training, while you get the competitive nature of group training. You don’t have to attend every session on offer, but it helps if you commit to attending regularly if you want to see the best results.
Being part of a club also gives you the opportunity to learn new bike and run routes (without getting lost), and it can mean that travelling to events is no longer a lonely solo journey – nor will your partner have to make the journey every time to help you with set-up!
So do your research, speak to people at different clubs and see which one is the best fit to suit your needs. Contact them and ask if you can come along for a trial session before you take the plunge. Good luck!”