15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons

Triathlon is a sport for all ages. In any triathlon, you will find seniors regularly competing alongside those the ages of their children and, in my case, older grandchildren. Sometimes, seniors even compete alongside their children.

An important benefit of triathlon for seniors comes from the training. Preparing for a triathlon is a great way to develop and maintain whole-body fitness, no matter your age. The three sports of a typical triathlon–swimming, biking, and running–each engage different parts of the body. Plus, cross-training involving other activities to build strength and endurance can not only be part of your triathlon training but help you age gracefully. Training for any marathon is a lot for some people, but the reward of completing the race would hopefully be worth it.

“There is no sport where being strong does not help our performance.”

Yet another benefit of triathlon for seniors comes from its social aspects. There is an active triathlon community across the world. As a triathlete, you will find others with whom you can compare notes about training and racing and the other non-triathlon part of our lives. Some studies suggest that the social benefits of triathlon are greater than the physical ones.

Are You Convinced That Triathlon Is For Seniors?

If you have not yet decided to do a triathlon, check out the 15 reasons I have found. I am sure that more than a few will help change your mind.

1. Triathlon gives a focus for several different types of exercise – swim, bike, run and related types such as rowing, kayaking, weight lifting, strength training, and stair climbing, to name a few. Complementing these are core exercises, weightlifting, yoga, and stretching. If you tend to become bored doing the same type of routine day after day, triathlon training is perfect for you.

2. Many races double as fundraisers for some very worthy causes. For example, my fourth triathlon, the TDD Triathlon in Douglas, Massachusetts doubled as a memorial race for triplets Tyrus, Dante, and Daniel Vescio who died the same day as their birth. The race raised funds for the UMass Memorial Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Worcester, Massachusetts, to help other babies get the chance to live long, healthy lives.

logo for the TDD triathlon and fundraiser
The TDD Triathlon in Douglas, Massachusetts was a fundraiser for newborn babies.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

3. You meet inspiring men and women over age 50. Check out the stories of some of these at Our Stories.

An Excuse for New Triathlon Gear

4. Race T-shirts and other swag, typically, a bag of nutrition samples, coupons, and other useful items are provided to race participants. Every race in which I have participated has included a t-shirt or other clothing item. Most are made of high quality, performance (wicking) material. And, there are some creative designers of finisher medals and age group awards – see “5 Unique Triathlon Medals” for my favorite race medals.

5. It provides a credible excuse to buy new clothes, a new bike, or the latest GPS watch, all in the name of helping you become a more fit, competitive triathlete. The list of clothing and equipment (referred to as ‘triathlon gear’) you can justify, at least to yourself, is nearly endless. Anything from custom fit shirts, that you can get from places like StringKing, (https://stringking.com/apparel/shirts/) to trainers and shorts, are just some of the many clothing items you can get your hands on for events like this. If you’re going to take part in a triathlon, you may as well look good while doing it, right?

GPS watch and new running shoes
GPS watch and running shoes.

Personal Benefits of Triathlon for Seniors

6. Completing a triathlon can give you a sense of accomplishment. And, if you need it, you earn ‘bragging rights’ with your family and friends.

7. Triathlons keep you humble. Men and women older than me have turned in faster times in triathlons. I have also learned from them the secrets to their success and when and how to apply these. For example, the race day nutrition regimen that I now follow came at the recommendation of Mr. James Chapman following the Rocky Gap Park Triathlon in Maryland.

8. For those who have immersed themselves in a career up to retirement, triathlon can be a healthy and fulfilling hobby. Are you, your spouse, or your kids worried about what you are going to do in retirement? Worry no more!

Compete With or Against Family and Friends

9. Triathlon sets an excellent example for children and grandchildren who either are not active or believe that you are ‘over the hill’. Two of my grandchildren and two of my three children have completed triathlons with me. And we have more planned. What a great bonding experience. What a thrill when I beat them in a race.

10. Triathlon is a co-ed sport, so you can take part with your spouse, children, grandchildren, and friends.

family celebration at the 2014  Maple Grove Triathlon
Post-triathlon celebration with family at the 2014 Maple Grove Triathlon in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

11. Since many races include team events, you can organize and take part as a team and enjoy the benefits of all the other reasons. You can ask friends to participate in a race. Imagine a team of three (one person for each leg of the triathlon) involving friends and/or family.

12. Depending upon your seriousness about the sport and your ability, there are various race distances and types to challenge to push you to a level you had never achieved. For example, I did my first half marathon at age 62, something I would never have imagined even in my 50s.

Seeing the World Through Triathlon

13. Triathlon can take you to parts of the USA and other countries that are not typical tourist locations or areas you would have otherwise visited. For example, I am quite certain that I would have never visited Sweet Home, Oregon had it not been the venue of a triathlon. And if I did not visit Sweet Home, I would not have learned that it is the source of most of the golf course grass seed in the USA.

14. During the winter months in areas where lakes are frozen and running paths are icy (and dangerous), you can justify travel to destinations for proper training in open water swimming and outdoor running.

winter training location for senior who compete in triathlon
Hawaii is one of my favorite training get-aways.

15. It gives you the opportunity to compete in the Senior Games held in each of the states of the USA and, if you qualify, in the National Senior Games. Senior games also take place in Canada and Mexico.

Do You Have Other Reasons?

Have you found other reasons for those in our age group who should train for and compete in triathlon? Share these in the Comments below.

I originally published this post on February 25, 2016. It was last updated on October 7, 2022.