Q: “When do you know when it’s time to try the next level of competition? I’ve done a few sprint triathlons now and am looking to move forward to an Olympic. Should I try to conquer sprints first and then move on to Olympic? And further… when will I know to move forward from there? Is it just a personal goal?”
A:The simple answer is that you are ready to move forward when you want to move forward. With a few exceptions, almost anybody can complete any distance of triathlon, as long as they put in enough time and effort in training. So it really comes down to whether or not you want to try longer distances and if you have enough time to get in enough quality training.
If you have already completed a few sprint triathlons, you should be ready to step it up to Olympic distance if you think you are ready. Just because the Olympic distance it is nearly twice as long as a sprint distance does not mean it is necessarily that much more difficult. Your pace will be slower since it is a longer distance, so it actually could be more enjoyable for you than the faster paced sprint race.
It is definitely just a personal choice when you want to move to longer distances. Don’t do it because you think you should, do it because you want to. Some athletes are perfectly content racing exclusively sprint distances and going fast. Some people don’t feel fulfilled unless they are doing Ironman distance races. It’s all about personal preference.
Just give Olympic distance a shot, and if you don’t like it or it seems too difficult, go back and do a few more Sprint races. Just make sure you can complete the distances in your training and you should be able to do the same in the race. Good luck and let us know how your first Olympic race goes if you decide to go for it.