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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    TriCats manage to both do and try

    You may decide one day that you want to train for a triathlon. You’re at the prime of your life, you run (sometimes), you know how to swim and you’ve dodged enough bikes on your way to class to at least know how they work. You’re ready.

    So you take the first step: Google “all about triathlons.” You scroll through articles about where to put your armband and how to quick change into your bike shorts.

    Suddenly, you spot it. First there’s one, then another and soon your head is spinning. Are triathlons actually bad for you? Can your knees, heart and joints take the pressure of running, biking and swimming?

    Before you start to freak out and crawl into the fetal position, afraid to exercise ever again, calm down. Triathletes, like the Arizona TriCats, know it isn’t likely.

    Jimmy Riccitello, head coach of the Arizona TriCats, was a professional triathlete for more than 20 years.

    “As far as I know I’m doing fine.” He said, “I think it’s like everything else. Genetics play a role in it. Intelligence and how you train. For me and based on my own personal experience, consistent exercise — consistent aerobic exercise — is good for you.”

    Riccitello’s experience reflects research into regular exercise. A 2006 German study published in Der Orthopäde has not only proven the risk of osteoarthritis in aged elite runners to be rare, but instead showed that the chances of joint problems are actually higher in those who do not exercise regularly. Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic, a well-respected medical research institution in the United States, compiled a list of benefits of regular exercise. The benefits include everything from more energy and a longer life to, believe it or not, better sex.

    When it comes to regular exercise, training for and participating a triathlon could be the best for you.

    Running, biking, and swimming as individual exercises are all good for you. Put them together and you’ve got the trifecta of workouts.

    Swimming is not only therapeutic to muscles, but it builds endurance and is good for training your lungs.

    With running, the benefits of which are increased bone density and muscle tone in your legs and glutes. If you’re worried about hurting your knees, don’t be! In an Olympic-distance triathlon you only run 10 kilometers.

    Finally, you hop on a bike. According to another Mayo Clinic study, biking can decrease the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, some cancers and type-2 diabetes.

    All of these benefits are not to say that triathlons cannot, in any way, be detrimental to your health. Samuel Scott Kinkade, systems engineering and finance sophomore by day, TriCat by night, is an example of that.

    After suffering a hurt knee during a run, Kinkade found that he’d developed tendonitis from overtraining — an injury that left him out of the triathlon scene for a month and a half. After his recovery, he continues to train but assures that he stretches properly and stays within his limits.

    “It’s all about knowing your body,” he said.

    Overtraining is certainly a threat, Kinkade’s case is one of the few common risks. But the pressure to train rigorously is not what triathlons are all about.

    Philip Putnam, medicine and neuroscience graduate student and social outreach chair for the Arizona TriCats said he enjoys triathlons regardless of any potential health risks.

    “A lot of people who do triathlons aren’t necessarily doing it to be healthy,” he said, “it’s just a pastime that’s enjoyable.”

    So you triathlon enthusiasts and curious new runners out there, go shimmy into your bike shorts and don that Speedo. But as you lace up your running shoes remember: avoid developing tendonitis in your knees by knowing your limits. Stay safe, stay healthy and Tri till you die.

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