Tri-ing the thrifty way, swimming.

A series about honestly evaluating the expense of triathlon.

Between gym memberships, Master’s swimming, triathlon clubs, coaches, and endless amounts of expensive gear, and race travel, triathlon can be an incredibly expensive sport. But, while difficult to really make it a cheap sport, you can participate in and enjoy the sport without spending hundreds of dollars a month.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t spend on triathlon if you want to! If you can, and feel it is money well spent, then great.

I am suggesting that money often isn’t a good excuse. A couple of years ago I cut back on my tri spending in anticipation of quitting a more secure, higher paying job, to focus on working for myself. I let go of my gym membership ($85/month), and Master’s swimming ($40/month). I haven’t been buying nearly as much new gear. I certainly have spent on travel and racing, but have valued these experiences over the other expenses – at this point in my life.

If you are concerned about getting into triathlon because of the cost, or if you are thinking about cutting back, the posts over the next couple of days are for you.

Swimming is up first. If you live in a warm enough area with open water swimming, you may be able to swim outside all or part of the year. Awesome! I’m jealous! But for most of us, a pool membership is one expense that will be necessary for triathlon training. Many communities offer some cheaper community based options, such as a city-owned pool or a YMCA. These may not be as fancy as other options in your area, but it might be worth checking out if you want to cut back on the expense of swim training. You may be in a Master’s program that you love and don’t want to switch- awesome! If you are and don’t love it, or do it just because that gets you to the pool 2 or 3 times per week, then you could consider other mechanisms for accountability to get you to the pool. Could you find a buddy to swim with? Would it help to create accountability for yourself by treating yourself to a reward after you complete X number of weeks consistently getting to the pool as often as you want to? Do you need to text a friend or family member – and ask them to hold you accountable?

I think the important thing is simply to evaluate what you think is necessary now, recognize what you get from it, and then evaluate if there are better ways to get that benefit, or if the expense is really worth it. And if it is, this exercise may just make you even more excited to happily pay for the service or facility!

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