So you’ve decided to become a Triathlete.

Maybe you were a college swimmer, or you ran a bit, or you are a recreational cyclist, and you have decided to mix it up a bit. Or, maybe you are like me, a 20-year couch potato with delusions of grandeur. Either way, it is vitally important in your new hobby that you learn how to pass for a Triathlete. After all, a wise man once said “It doesn’t matter how you feel, it’s how you look”. It was either Winston Churchill or Billy Crystal, I don’t remember which. Anyway, here are some tips to help you in your quest to look more like a Triathlete. Note: I have given each tip a point value, and indicated some special bonus points. Try to get to at least 50 points to ensure you REALLY look the part of a lean, mean, Triathlon machine.

1) Shave your legs (5 points). (Ladies, I’m not trying to oppress you into a subservient position in my phallocracy, let’s just assume that this point is directed at men.) Nothing will give you away as a newbie faster than hairy legs. Ok, maybe that’s not true. Falling over at a stoplight because you forgot to unclip your pedals is a pretty good hint, but let’s assume you’ve got that problem licked, and let’s get those legs shaved. Special bonuses: 10 points – shave your head. 20 points shave ALL over.

2) Buy the TriClub uniform (5 points). There are a few reasons this is key, not the least of which is the emotional support you get while in races. Of course, that emotional support is usually whizzing by you at about 38 miles per hour while you grind along in your granny gear (note to all Grannys out there – no offence intended), but it’s still nice to hear someone say “looking good!” even though you have snot hanging from your upper lip, and goo all over your chin. Special bonuses: 10 points – buy the TriClub team bike. 50 points – have your car painted with the club logo and colors.

3) Install Aerobars on your bike (5 points). (Note: if you have a $199, 56 pound Costco mountain bike with a kickstand, skip this step). Technically aerobars are designed to allow you to maintain a more aerodynamic position while on your bike, thereby cutting down on wind resistance and making you go faster. Most studies have shown that you only get an aero advantage over 20 miles per hour, and most studies show that I rarely go that fast, so I don’t know why I bother – but as you get faster, and do longer races, it will become key, so buy some aerobars. In addition to helping you to look cool, aerobars serve the function of giving you a place to set your helmet after you ride (or a place to set a pizza while you ride, but most newbies like me are trying to drop a few pounds, so I don’t recommend this). Newbie Note: most roadies (i.e. serious road bikers – wait, does that mean serious mountain bikers are Mounties?) most roadies consider it a serious foul to be on your aerobars while riding in a group, because you have less control over your bike and are more likely to get in an accident – so if you are riding with a group, don’t use your aerobars. Special bonuses: 5 extra points for all carbon-fiber aerobars.

4) Use the following terms incessantly (1 point each): T1, T2, Anaerobic Threshold, Interval training, recovery workout, brick, “going long”, LSD, stacking workouts. A typical sentence might be “I was running from T1 to T2 and I hit my Anaerobic Threshold, despite all the Interval Training I have been doing, and I had to schedule a recovery workout instead of a brick for the next day, even though I am going long later in the season despite missing a few LSDs and stacking workouts to make up for it.” The ten-point bonus work for this month is “Florianopolis” – use the magic word and you win a prize!

5) Change your name to “Matt” (5 points). I swear to God if one more guy named Matt joins the LA Tri Club, I am going to scream. As long as I am on the topic of membership, can we please have a membership drive to recruit some ugly people in to the club? I am really getting sick of being the ugly guy on all the rides, and don’t get me started about going to the pool and swimming in a lane next to Matt Miller. Seriously people, we need to recruit some fat hairy guys so I can start feeling good about myself.

6) Wear a lot of gear with the Ironman logo on it. Shirts (5 points) and hats (5 points) from the 1999 and 2000 Oceanside Ironman are really popular. Make sure to come up with some evasive answers to any questions about whether you actually ran the race. If asked directly, say something like “Let me just say, I don’t care what you pay me, I will NOT do that race in the future”, or “You know, after a few IV bags, you can barely remember your own name”. If asked your finishing time you can say “We’ll it would have to be somewhere between 8 and 17 hours right? But I say anyone who finishes is a champion!” Special bonuses: 10 points – any clothing item from the Hawaii Ironman. 20 points – get an M Dot tattoo. 100 points – get an M Dot tattoo on your forehead.

Please note that these tips work best when you are standing around chatting, and they tend to be overshadowed by the complete lack of athletic ability some of us have the tendency to demonstrate while actually engaged in any of the three activities. On the plus side, I have been told that I “swim like a Triathlete”, although I understand that this is not a compliment…

Jason “25 points” Berkowitz