When I tell people I do triathlons, it usually prompts one of two responses - either I must be very fit, or mad!
I guess that both are true, while at the same time neither of them is. I’m probably fitter than most people of my age, but finish well down the field in the triathlons I compete in. And while I accept there is a little madness in swimming, cycling and running your way around Yorkshire, my decision to take up the sport in my late-30s was entirely rational.
In my job with Age UK Sheffield, I know how, as we grow older, we have to make choices to adapt to our abilities and circumstances, to stay independent and fulfilled in later life. One of the main reasons I took up triathlons was that, after a marathon in 2011, niggly injuries started to grind me down. I needed an activity that had less impact on my knees and calf muscles, while keeping me fit and motivated to train - I tend to get lazy if I don’t have a target to work towards. Swimming and cycling are great for exercising with low impact on your body. I try to train for each of the three disciplines once a week, but if I can’t get to a swimming pool, or if it’s cold and wet, I can easily swap my training around to suit.
I’ve also taught myself a new skill. When I started to train for my first triathlon, I could only swim one length of a pool at a time. Within a few weeks, I got up to 50 lengths, and now I can swim a mile with ease. You see, compared with the people I race against, I’m not a particularly good triathlete. I am always one of the slowest swimmers, average at the cycling, and make up some time during the run. But, here’s another thing about getting older - you don’t have to measure yourself against others. Focusing on my own abilities, and what I can achieve, is what motivates me. Another thing I like about triathlon is that it’s a really friendly sport. Most people turn up just to have a go and do their best. And I’ve been really pleasantly surprised how many older people compete - the over-50s category is always well represented. In May I completed a short distance triathlon in Holmfirth which got me off to a great start and I am now all set for my summer challenge of swimming, cycling, running and hiking - all to raise funds for Age UK Sheffield.
In July I’ll be doing the Olympic-distance event at Ripon which was absolutely brilliant last year and involves a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Then in August, I’ll be hiking another 50km up and down Derbyshire, in the Peak District Challenge.
Visit Steve Chu Fundraising Page if you’d like to sponsor me – and thank you.