Most of us started triathlon for the challenge, the fitness and the adventure. While it’s nice to go back to some of your old race standards to gauge yourself against previous years, taking on new challenges can keep things fresh and exciting. In some cases it also means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, leading to long term skill and performance gains.

Make your 2017 exciting! Here are 5 possible new challenges for the New Year:

  1. Tackle a New Distance: Some obvious choices are doing your first Ironman 70.3, or even your first Ironman. Going further than you have before is really rewarding, and learning what your mind and body are capable of. Remember, “new distance” doesn’t have to equate to “longer distance”. Consider a super sprint to focus on speed and fast transitions, or odd distance races which atypical swim, bike or run leg distances. There are some races that are reverse order (Run-Bike-Swim), or different disciplines like Duathlon (Run-Bike-Run), Aquathon (Run-Swim-Run), Splash and Dash (Swim-Run), and Aquabike (Swim-Bike). It can be fun and exciting to choose an event that emphasizes more distance in your strongest event, or omits your weakest event all together.
  1. Pick a New Destination: It is one thing to sign up for a challenging event. It’s another to do it at an exciting destination that require air travel. There is the obvious appeal of visiting somewhere exotic, with the potential fun of staying for a little vacation after the event. The other big upside of buying an airline ticket is that making the financial and logistical commitment to getting there generally translates into an increased mental and physical commitment to fully preparing for the event.
  1. Race a New Extreme Event: Fear is a great motivator. If you really want an epic challenge, you might consider Ultraman, a 3 day stage race that totals double the Ironman distance. Day 3 is a double marathon. Alternately, consider a race course with extended climbing, extreme climates (hot or cold), or altitude. While you may be making hard “extra-hard”, rewarding can also be “extra-rewarding” when you get way outside your comfort zone.
  1. Race on New Terrain: Have you ever swam in the swells or surf of a tropical ocean; or perhaps a glassy flat wetsuit swim in a mountain lake? Xterra offers some exciting triathlon with off road mountain bike and trail running courses. Winter triathlon gets you off road and on skis. Learning new skills to race on varying terrain keeps you motivated and technically improving.
  1. Tackle a New Single Sport Event: Training and racing single sport events are a great way to focus on developing one element of your triathlon, while gaining a deeper understanding of that individual discipline. Running a winter marathon is a great endurance challenge which can really help your triathlon run-leg in the summer. Cycling a Gran Fond can move the needle on your bike fitness and technical ability. Mix it up further by tackling a trail marathon, or a bike stage race. There are endurance mountain bike races like Leadville, or stage races such as Cape Epic. Strive for a legendary event like the Boston Marathon, or even Comrades Marathon. Try some open water swimming races over longer distances like 5km or 10km.

Mix it up in 2017 to keep things fresh, improve your game, and keeping your adventurous sport-spirit bright and thriving. There are many resources to learn how to be successful in these exciting endeavours and experienced coaching can help get you to new finish lines you only ever dreamed of!

LifeSport head coach Lance Watson has coached a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 28 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to share your goals, race faster, or master the Ironman distance.