Everything You Need to Know About Triathlon Training on Campus

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The older we get, the more stories our bodies have to tell. Pushing it hard at the gym, in a race, in a game, or even in our day to day activities, we collect tales of triumph, but also of injury. It is a combination of both that makes for the best and most unexpected stories. For me, a 10K resulted in a running injury and correlated diagnosis of scoliosis. When my physical therapist assured me I could run distance again, I opted to focus on cross-training, and am now training for my first triathlon after years of anticipation.

Could a triathlon be a new chapter in your book? Lauren Mandlerand I, coworkers and first-time triathlon training buddies, are eager to share our discovery that everything we needed to tri train was waiting in our own backyard — the UW Seattle campus. From gorgeous trails teeming with wildlife to Whole U resources abundant with incentive, we give you the who, what, when, where, why, and how of triathlon training on campus.

It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.

Who to train with is the first questions that comes up for most of us. While some prefer to go solo using triathlon training plans, many prefer support, especially if it’s their first triathlon. Fortunately, in Seattle–and particularly on campus–we have boundless options. The Husky Triathlon Club is open to students, faculty, and staff at all levels. Coach Lisa Worthington of Elevation Multisport hosts the team’s weekly swim clinics, while co-coach Jake Bartholomy leads the running workouts. Other local organizations such as TN Multisport, headed up by Teresa Nelson and Mark Webb, offer tri coaching on an individual and group basis. Others seek training buddies from amongst their coworkers, friends, or family. The Whole U offers incentives for connecting with others thorough programs like the Summer of FUNction Challenge and Interest Groups.

WHAT the heck am I get myself into, anyway?

For those starting out, we recommend beginning with a sprint triathlon. Many are surprised at how approachable it is, with a 750-meter swim, 20k-bike ride and a 5k-run. Translated, that’s about 15 laps of a standard pool, 12 miles on the bike, and 3.5 miles running. That’s just half the distance of an Olympic triathlon and less than a quarter of the Ironman.

WHEN exactly is this happening?

The intrepid amongst us can find a triathlon at just about any time of year in the salubrious Pacific Northwest, as seen on www.trifind.com. No surprise that the most popular tris are offered in the warmer spring and summer months when the lake water is at its finest. Competitive types may aim to do a spring triathlon and then work to beat their time in a late summer race. Lucky for us, the good folks at The Whole U have set up discounts on the Lake Meridian triathlon on June 22, and The Iron Girl (formerly known as Danskin) on August 17.

Well WHERE do I train?

Working for the Department of Recreational Sports Programs, we may be partial to the IMA, but the IMA has it all! The IMA offers three styles of bikes, as well as indoor cycling classes year-round. The pool is open for lap swim during all IMA hours and the Hec Ed Pavilion Pool (PAV) is open for lunch time lap swim. Run on a treadmill or enjoy the amazing views of Union Bay and campus from the IMA’s indoor track.

The Seattle area has boundless trails; winding through campus is the Burke-Gilman Trail (BGT) stretching 19 miles, intersecting with the Sammamish River Trail. The trail is popular with runners and bikers enjoying its beauty in the rain or shine. Want to hop in the lake for a swim? Take the BGT to Mathews Beach or Magnuson Park for nearby swimming access points.

Leave your Husky card at the IMA ID Desk and jog along Union Bay on the UW Waterfront Trails before you hop in the IMA pool for a swim. Enjoy turtles sunbathing, mother ducks and their ducklings learning to swim, and all other sorts of wildlife. A quick jump over the Montlake Bridge leads to the Washington Arboretum trails.

WHY should I Tri?

There are plenty of reasons to try a tri including numerous health and physical benefits. Teresa and Mark Webb of TN Multisport told us why they tri:

The ability to explore Seattle and the outlying areas with amazing friends is the ultimate highlight of the sport of triathlon. Additionally, the cross-training benefits are tremendous in injury prevention and avoiding burnout. Beyond the above, triathlon is empowering. Challenging individuals to create balance while aiming to excel in multiple disciples.

Here are the reasons we tri:

uw triathlon

Explore Our Beautiful Backyard (UW campus), Ditch the Boredom, Sweat off the School Year Stress


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Cross Train to See and Feel Results, Be a Role Model, Connect with Your Community


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Cross Train to Avoid Burnout, tri something new and break out of your comfort zone, YOLO! Check it off the bucket list; it feels awesome to say “I’ve done a triathlon!” 

Enough about us, we want to hear about you! If you have competed in a triathlon, are training for one or want to train for one we want to hear about it! Leave a comment below!


Anne Garret and Lauren MandlerAnne Garrett and Lauren Mandler are coordinators at the IMA, and have been tri-training together since January. Anne has since reconnected with her swimsuit, ditched her fear of running, and spent some high quality time with her bicycle on Lake Washington Blvd. Lauren was looking for a new challenge and jumped at the opportunity to train for another triathlon. Adding swimming and biking back into her routine has improved her physical and mental athletic ability. They co-wrote this article together.





4 Thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Triathlon Training on Campus”

On June 4, 2014 at 8:25 AM, Jenny Gorle said:

I entered my first triathlon at 48. I took about 5 months to train specifically for it. The authors are correct – it is so exhilarating and feels great to say that you’ve done a tri. When I got home from this first triathlon, still in wet clothes, I got in the computer to book my next tri, which was a month later. It seems intimidating, but it is easier than you think. Go for it!!

    On June 4, 2014 at 3:43 PM, Anne Garrett said:

    Ha! What a great testament, Jenny! I’ll remember that one as I’m pounding the pavement training this summer. Thanks for posting and may the exhilaration continue for you!

On June 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM, Ted said:

I love Annie’s post and just wanted to make one comment on an important error: There is no swimming whatsoever at Gas Works Park. From the park website:

“Access to Lake Union is restricted at Gas Works Park, as the lake sediment contains hazardous substances. Entering the water or launching boats from the park is prohibited (SMC 18.12.070) There is no swimming, no fishing and no wading in the park.”

I own a small sailboat on Lake Union and from my personal perspective, swimming anywhere in the lake is questionable. It has been home to heavy, deeply pollutant industry for well over a century. Water does get exchanged from the locks and Lake Washington, so perhaps that helps a little bit.

I think the rest of the suggestions are great and the other swimming suggestions seem fine.

    On June 4, 2014 at 3:45 PM, Anne Garrett said:

    Thanks for the helpful information, Ted. We’ve updated the article according to your suggestion. Gas Works could definitely still fit in with tri training- a break point or destination from cycling or running- but not so much for swimming it seems.

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