Why More Women Should Participate in Triathlon
By Sika Henry
It is widely known that females who play sports tend to have better health, more confidence, and lower levels of depression. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the importance of being heavily involved in youth sports, but I should thank my parents for steering me in the right direction. Sports gave me confidence and made me tough. It also taught me how to successfully multitask. This later helped me balance a collegiate sport and academics.
Like most, after college I gave up sports. I gained weight, worked long hours at the office, stayed up late, and ate out more…until I found Triathlon. Depression and a dark period in my personal life led to my first Tri (which I registered for on a whim). Desperate for stability and a healthy outlet, participating in multisport events quickly reignited those disciplines I learned as a young woman.
From the rigors of life, raising children, or in my case, an afternoon break from work! It releases tension and reduces stress. It truly becomes “your” time.
I am constantly amazed at the extraordinary women I have met in this sport – University Professors, Doctors, Business Owners, Moms, and Army Wives. I have lifelong friends and female mentors because of triathlon.
I don’t live in the same state as my parents and brother, so traveling to race locations has become a family affair. And for folks that have children – early exposure to sports increases the likelihood of participation. In a sport where women are underrepresented, female participants become role models.
Women have less muscle mass and more body fat which make us more likely to be obese versus men. Participation in sports like triathlon reduces the risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Women are more prone to injuries partly due to our bone structure (wider pelvis). The beauty of triathlon is that it involves three disciplines which require different muscle groups. I have personally dealt with less injuries after switching to triathlon from being a pure runner.
“If I can get through this I can get through anything” – how I feel in every race. Endurance sports like triathlon build determination and belief in oneself. This confidence can carry over to the corporate world where there are less women in executive positions.
So often when we say ‘triathlon’, people associate it with ‘IRONMAN’ – not a Half Ironman or Olympic distance race, and much less a Sprint or Super Sprint that starts in a pool. There are many options and ANY level of participation is a plus!
Sika Henry is a competitive triathlete, two-time marathon winner, and an analyst for Ferguson Enterprises. She races the IRONMAN 70.3 distance and is passionate about increasing diversity within the sport of triathlon.