If you've accomplished "beginner-like" fitness goals and you need something different to keep yourself interested in the gym (or the outdoors)... I suggest a sprint triathlon. It has all of the elements of a triathlon (only shorter distances) and is the perfect fit to switch up your routine.
Now let's get one thing straight: I've never been an "athlete". In the last handful of years, I've taken an interest in my health and working out. And, dare I say, I've liked it!
My first accomplishments were a few 5K's and after, a few half marathons. However, I knew I was never going to accomplish a full marathon. (Okay, if we are being honest, I have never WANTED to finish a full marathon. I commend those athletes who are committed - their mind, body & time - to completing one, and I promise to be at the finish line cheering!)
Let's start at the end of the race and work our way forward:
RUN. (Sprint Tri Distance: 5K)
Running is one of those exercises (most) everyone can do. If you have a desire to lose weight, get healthy or achieve a fitness goal, running is a great option. You don't need fancy equipment or even a gym membership. All you need is a will to do it and a good pair of shoes. Because of the elements, I did not run outside at all for my training. I exclusively trained on a treadmill and never ran over 4 miles. I didn't worry about the run too much. I had run before and that seemed like the easy part. I made sure to not ignore the need to run and got on the treadmill at least a few times a week (usually after my bike workout so I got accustomed to the feeling of transitioning from one exercise to the next).
BIKE. (Sprint Tri Distance: 20K)
In training for my sprint triathlon, I didn't bike for a second outside. I did my entire training on a spin bike. If you are a member of a gym with spin (or cycling) classes offered, this is your ticket to training without a coach (or plan). Go to spin class, jump on the treadmill after (even if it's just for a few minutes or miles). That was my theory, and it worked well.
SWIM. (Sprint Tri Distance: 400-750 Meters)
This was the most frightening part of the entire race for me. Don’t follow my theory for training - which was just don't train! I thought: "Swimming... I took swimming lessons when I was little... I can swim, I don't need to train." Do as I say, not as I did. Find a pool. All cities have a public pool with open swim at a reasonable rate.
As you can tell, I didn't have a plan for the way I trained. That's the way I liked it. I ran a few times a week, I biked (or went to spin class) a few times a week, and I should have swam once a week. I also added weight training when I could.
My favorite part: I worked more muscles than exclusively running and it was fun! Unlike a running event, I didn't exhaust just a few of my muscles and, for someone who gets bored running, it was fun and engaging to change activities - twice!
3 Beginner tips:
1. Find a buddy! Complete the race with a friend. It makes it fun and helps with the anxiety. (And, if you are nervous about the swim - like I was - ask for a swim buddy provided by the race organizers!)
2. Go to the "course class/prep" - offered at the expo the day before. Trust me, it is worth your time! Most of your worries will be unfounded and it will make the next day much less stressful. Remember to ask questions.
3. Rent!! Rent a nice bike. Rent a wet suit (if it's recommended).
Good luck. See you in the water... on the bike... and running through the finish line!