Triathlete Quirks

Triathletes are a unique bunch. Despite our varying backgrounds, we have many similarities. We are more comfortable in Speedos and Spandex than slacks and sundresses. We break out into a sweat if we have not broken out into a sweat. I have been in the sport for fifteen years, and in that time I have witnessed some key triathlete quirks.
Car vs. Bike

For many triathletes, their bike receives more consideration than their car.

Buying a new bike? A copious amount of time is spent figuring out the proper model, size and color. Discussions with friends, bike shops and strangers on the internet ensue. Buying a new car? Who buys a new car? That is bike money!

What triathlete worries about race wheels for their car? Or titanium parts to save weight? When dealing with the bike, aerodynamics is key. Can you imagine getting “fit” to your car seat? Many of us have roof racks on top of our cars creating drag that would be obscene on a bike.

I personally ride more miles per year than I drive and my bike is serviced more often than my car. I meticulously clean my bike on a regular basis, but my car doesn’t see the car wash until someone writes “wash me” on the windshield.

Numbers Games

Numbers are everywhere in the triathlon world.  Triathletes can explain in great detail their VO2 max power, how many laps they swam and what the break down is per 100/meters, and their pace for any race they have ever done.  I have witnessed water bottles meticulously made up with calories for an entire day using a mathematical formula that would have made Pythagoreas jealous.

Yes, triathletes obviously have a head for numbers. But, most cannot balance a check book (ok, I cannot balance a check book). Or, figure out a tip (every time the bill comes at a group dinner, everyone whips out their phone). 


Be honest, have you been on a vacation recently that did not involve some form of swim, bike or run? Family trips are often planned around races.  Little kids? The Disney 70.3 works perfectly. Second honeymoon? Laguna Phuket. Snorkeling? Buck Island is a short boat ride from St. Croix. Love the theater? NYC tri. Inkling for crab cakes? Eagleman.

Let’s imagine that you are travelling for the holidays or taking a non-race vacation (gasp, do those exist). I am sure you will throw in you bathing suit, cap, goggles and running shoes.

M Dot Tattoo

Finishing an Ironman is a great accomplishment. Triathletes like to commemorate this achievement with an M-Dot tattoo. Of course, for many people, getting a tattoo is like opening a bag of chips. One is never enough. A simple M-Dot morphs into an M-Dot with the particular race logo or the race year or multiple M-Dots representing all of the Ironman finishes. Have you seen some of the art work? Very creative! I am thinking about at getting M-Dot tattoos for all of my Ironman DNFs.


Triathletes pride themselves as being cutting edge, making us the perfect guinea pigs for companies testing out new products. As in life, the sport of triathlon has seen many fads come and go.

Think back not too long ago when racing in a Speedo was the norm. Now, companies boast garments with pockets, aero materials that keep you cool, and more coverage.

Beam bikes such as the Softride and Trek Y-frame were all the rage in the 90’s. They were supposedly more comfortable and reduced back pain. These bikes are now relics.

Compression garments. Walk around any triathlon expo and the new uniform is shorts, a t-shirt and compression socks. I am not knocking the utility of compression, I run in the socks often and am wearing a pair right now as I sit and type on an airplane.

The mustache. Pictures abound from the late 80’s and early 90’s of the top males from that era rocking the ‘stache. I bet they feel silly now…

Barefoot running is all the rage these days. The Bolder Boulder 10K even had a wave specifically for barefoot runners. How much time did people lose picking rocks out of their feet every few minutes?

To know us is to love us

These idiosyncrasies often make triathletes fodder for debasement by groups that do not understand us. Behind the quirks are kind hearted, fun-loving, humorous, smart and generous individuals. I am just waiting for Christopher Guest to produce a mockumentary like Best in Show triathlon style. He can call it: Ironman Week in Kona with a special spotlight on the underwear run.

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4 Responses

  1. Emerson says:

    Great post!
    I believe that we have an inspirational behaviour, and this can encourage people to be a triathlete too!

  2. Muus says:

    Love it 🙂

  3. Kurt says:

    you dont have enough skin for that many tattoos…..jk!!!!