No, you won’t be competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other reasons Olympic-distance triathlons are the best.
More to Chew On1 of 10
Olympic triathlons are the logical next step after you've gotten your feet wet with a sprint triathlon. The distances essentially double—an Olympic-distance triathlon includes a 0.93-mile (1.5K) swim, a 24.8-mile (40K) bike and a 6.2-mile (10K) run. It's just far enough to challenge you without making your training feel overwhelming.
Fine-Tune Your Skills2 of 10
You can practically will yourself to finish a sprint triathlon with relatively little training, but as you progress into longer distances, more technical know-how is necessary. Transition proficiency will make or break your race, and pacing and nutrition become much more of a priority. Time is of the essence in Olympic distance races, meaning you'll be forced to travel light and be precise with your set-up—all skills that will serve you well as you move on to longer distances.
Convenience3 of 10
Most local triathlons offer an Olympic-distance option, so once the season rolls around you won't have to travel far to get your triathlon fix. Triathlons start early and you'll appreciate the close proximity on race morning.
Relatively Cheap4 of 10
Although Olympic triathlons are more expensive than their sprint counterpart, it's still a fraction of the price of an IRONMAN. You can also still get away with entry-level gear, although we predict after a few Olympic-distance races, you'll be anxious for upgrades (but who doesn't like new things?).
More Competition5 of 10
Olympic triathlons are a little more competitive than sprint triathlons. The field is usually deeper, and athletes train specifically for this distance. Don't let this friendly competition deter you—finishing is all that really matters, and racing with faster athletes can only have a positive effect on your own performance.
Test Yourself6 of 10
A 10K is pretty commonplace for most novice athletes, but precede that with a swim and a bike ride and you'll certainly feel the burn as you progress through the race. That little extra suffering makes crossing the finish line taste that much sweeter.
Ego Boost7 of 10
Sure, triathlon is an inclusive and friendly sport, but sometimes a little ego boost is good for the psyche. Why of course you're sighting the furthest buoys and taking the second lap on the bike and run—who do they think you are, a sprint triathlete?
More Cowbell8 of 10
Twice the distance (of a sprint triathlon) usually means twice as many laps. Think you needed the support on the first 3.1 miles of the run? You'll be thankful for your wild and crazy cheering squad as you undertake the final lap.
Endorphins on Endorphins9 of 10
No matter your fitness level, completing an Olympic-distance triathlon is a true physical test. Once you cross the finish line you'll be exhausted, sore and probably slightly dehydrated, but all the suffering is what makes the training and effort worth it. Before you know it, you'll be toeing the line at your next race.