Would You Rather: Do A Triathlon or Have A Stomach Bug?

I know what you all are probably thinking right now. You are probably thinking that I must have had a typo in the title, because how could I possibly be comparing doing a triathlon to having a stomach bug?

That just totally doesn’t make sense, right?

I think when I make my case, you might see the logic-based reasoning of this scenario.

Triathlon vs. Stomach Bug

  • Sore abdominal muscles: Can totally occur in both events. Sure with the triathlon your abs will be sore from all the swimming, but don’t count out the “Abs of Steel” type work-out you can get from all the retching during a bad stomach virus.
  • Fatigue: I would imagine that any of the events from a triathlon would leave you pretty tuckered out, so combining all three could practically make you comatose by the time your head hits the pillow at night. And if you have ever spent the night laying against your bathroom tile in between rounds of vomiting, you know that you are left feeling exhausted.
  • Weight loss: This one is probably obvious, right? When you are doing a triathlon you can’t eat, especially during the biking portion of the event. Unless they figure out a way to attach a tray to your handlebars like the car tray available at Sonic, you are going without food. Battling a stomach bug not only helps shave off a few pounds, but leaves you afraid to eat solid food for a good week or two after recovery.

See what I mean?!

But before you decide, let’s be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into…

Since I like to be official and sort of sciency when I present you these difficult questions, I have decided that from here on out the definition of the triathlon of which I speak will be the Ultra Distance triathlon. Or in layman speak, the Ironman. I will present to you the exact description from Wikipedia. (You certainly can’t argue with this kind of detailed, crackerjack, internet research.)

The Ironman

  • 2.4 mile swim
  • 112 mile bike ride
  • 26.2 mile run

This is clearly not for the common, light, neighborhood jogger. This is obviously not meant for the mom who dons her yoga pants to go to Starbucks and Target. You have to be hard core to pull this one off. You have to be dedicated to training.

Just between you and me, I don’t even really like to drive somewhere that is 26.2 miles away, much less even think about running that distance. Unless my life is in danger, which it most definitely would be should I ever attempt this task!

The Ironman definitely has its perks, though! You will get in shape. You will get a chance to really know your city and its surrounding counties on your 112 mile training bike rides. It is probably the ultimate in “me” time. Even if your family wanted to bother you, how could they find you? And what a sense of accomplishment you will feel if you finish it. Serious bragging rights at the next neighborhood potluck.


The second case presented here is that of the stomach bug. Feast your eyes on this straight from Web M.D., which brings you only the best of the internet medical diagnosis knowledge available.

The Stomach Bug

  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Sounds pretty miserable, right? If you have ever been driving home from work and had that instant feeling of getting sweaty and having all the saliva drain from your mouth and knowing that you are going to lose all of the remnants of your lunch right on the side of the road, you know what I mean.


And then you pretty much spend the next week of your life feeling convinced that there is no possible way you will ever consume solid food again. I mean sure, by day six when you are able to sip on flat ginger ale and break off crumbs of Saltines, you might see the upside to hitting your goal weight thanks to this nasty virus. Perhaps you even caught up on some back catalog Life & Style magazines or finally worked your way through all your old DVRed episodes of Temptation Island.ย You might think of it all as a little much-needed “me” time, especially if your family did in fact leave you alone in your misery. Another plus? No training. Even the most dedicated couch potato can manage this.

So, really, at the end of the day both are quite similar in what they can accomplish for you. It is honestly more of a personal preference as to how you would like achieve your results, andย I think we all know where The Dose Girls fall on this particular topic!

Would you rather be fatigued and sore and skinny from doing a triathlon or from having a stomach bug?



Would You Rather: Do A Triathlon or Have A Stomach Bug? — 99 Comments

  1. At first I thought this was a slam-dunk with doing a triathlon…but if you’re taking about Ironman vs stomach bug then I have some thinking to do. I guess I would still go with the TRI and probably just for the “me” time you mentioned! Also – you CAN eat on the bike portion. Bike shirts are made with little pockets in the back so you can reach back there and grab yourself some nourishment:-)

    • See, Allie, this is why we need you “fitnessy” readers because you educate us about important stuff like bike shirts with pockets big enough to hold a King-Size Snickers. You rock! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Triathlon, as much as I am a lazy bum sometimes, I would much rather do a triathlon then have the stomach virus. I have an aversion to throwing up and just hate the thought of it, so going with the triathlon for sure this time!

  3. Ironman. ALL. THE. WAY!! This is actually on my bucket list. I’ve done shorter distance triathlons and did a Half Ironman (half the distances above) before I got pregnant with #1. LOVE the feeling of accomplishment and especially LOVE passing guys on the swim & run! I want to tackle the full, but it will have to wait until the girls are a little older. The training time is crazy INTENSE!!! Plus, I hate being sick!

  4. Stomach bug, stomach bug, stomach bug! You guys know me and there is no way I’d EVER have the energy to train for let alone complete the triathlon. And I don’t like my city or surrounding ones all that much to want to explore them in long bike rides or long runs. Chances are after I complete it (or any of the training), I’ll end up throwing up anyway so I’ll skip all the work and head for the couch. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Well AMEN to THAT girls!!! Immediately when I read your title, I said “STOMACH BUG STOMACH BUG!!!”

        What the HAY?? (I think I just made that up) Seriously, you must have some pretty serious fitness junkies here. I mean, a few days of puking can burn as many calories, right? So what if your miserable, at least you get to lie in bed (yes- there will be short spurts to the toilet to puke or explode the other way- but so WHAT?)

        If you do the triathlon- then you will be sore for WEEKS. The bug- you wake up two days later two sizes smaller and feeling a bit queezy but ready TO EAT!!!

        Comparatively- this is A NO BRAINER!!!

  5. I should say the triathlon because that would be the healthy answer. However, I’m going with stomach bug. I hate to run and training for a triathlon would take weeks or even months. Stomach bugs suck but at least they are over after about a week.

  6. Oh my god. I’m an emetophobe. Even reading this sends me to the therapist. I kid, I kid! (but only just nearly)
    I choose triathalon. It sounds horrible and I’d probably throw up anyway, but I was under the impression that stomach bugs last only 24 hours, and now I’m seeing a week? I mean…really?
    Triathalon. Hands down.

    • HA HA HA HA Amy! Love it! If you complete an Ironman you should probably get a sash and crown to wear everywhere you go. Just saying.

  7. hahaha i knew from the moment i read the title what my answer would be- stomach bug for the win!! i dont even, cant even, omg i would never choose the other choice. a stomach bug sucks but its over in a relatively short amount of time. an ironman would kill me. literally- on my tombstone would be “here she lies, murdered by an ironman. if only she had chosen stomach bug”

  8. I’ve got to go with stomach bug because I am pretty sure that I would be over the stomach bug before I was done with any kind of race. And last I checked, you cannot do a triathalon while laying on the couch and watching The Ellen Show and reading archive posts of The Dose of Reality. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Laughing hysterically at this, as I recently lost my mind and decided to register for a mini triathlon in my area. I suspect that when it is over, I will wind up on the couch watching whatever channel was last on because I will lack the ability to move to operate the remote… That is, if I’m not rushed to a hospital before completing the triathlon!

  10. I would sign up for the triathlon, so that I could get the really cool participant T-shirt, not bother training, then on the day of the race FAKE a stomach bug. I keep the T-Shirt, I am “too sick” to race. It’s a win-win!

  11. Well, I have a friend who does Ironman competitions. Currently, he’s in Tahoe doing one right now. I’ve seen how much he has to train for this. It’s NOT FOR ME. I also have had an intestinal infection for 2 weeks. Diarrhea, fever, shakes, bed rest, the whole bit. I think I’m getting over it now. Still have a fever but the rest have slowly went away. I’ll take the Stomach Virus over Ironman. I can handle two weeks of discomfort vs a year of training. No thank you.

  12. Little secret: I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon. It’s true. Not that I think I *could*, but I always found them fascinating. So, assuming I had the physical ability to do so, I’d pick the triathlon. If not, well…there is only one other choice, isn’t there? I’d so much rather run (and swim and bike) than have the runs (and worse), though. Just sayin’.

  13. Wow. Really, ladies? Hmmm… well, in either case I will be puking my guts out, so I guess I’ll go with the triathlon. I mean, if I do that, then at least I’ll always have a cool party story that will beat everyone.

    “Oh, you backpacked the Amazon jungle? Well, I participated in a triathlon. So there.”

    Sounds a lot better than, “Oh, you just got back wrestling crocodiles in the Australian outback? Well, I just had vomiting and diarrhea for 6 days straight.”

  14. This one is easy, TRI! There is no way I am going to volunteer for the nasty stomach bug…I may swim and bike and run till I puke, but that’s easily remedied with taking a break, rehydrating, and moving on! Those dang stomach bugs are way more miserable!

  15. While Ironman would be the “better” answer, realistically I would be much more successful at surviving a stomach bug than a triathlon. I can only imagine the injuries I would sustain just training for that sucker.

  16. Well, I have ran in 5 half-marathons, so I have a good understanding and expert knowledge that I would never, ever probably survive a triathalon – well, if I could do it over a several-day period, I could do it! That being said, I could stand to lose 10 pounds, so bring on the stomach virus!

  17. The last time I had the stomach flu was Easter Sunday and I was staying at a hotel in Boston. Then my husband got it. Two things worse than getting the stomach flu: getting it while staying at a hotel (or anywhere other than home) and doing an Ironman. Bring on the flu!

  18. To be honest I’d rather have the stomach bug. I can’t swim and I hate to run. We run at least 5 miles every day and I hate it. I’m always super exhausted after it’s over. At least with a stomach bug I’d be in bed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I’ve had the stomach bug. I’d like to say that I’ll take a hit of that bug again before I do a triathlon, but because I’m trying to become more fit I’ll go with the whole running and bike ride deal. I’ll need get a decoy for the swimming piece.

  20. I was all set to say stomach bug until I saw the vomiting bit. I hate vomiting. I cry when I vomit. It’s terrible. So I’d do the triathalon. I’d probably keel over from it but I’d rather keel over than vomit.

  21. I have to say triathalon , as weird as that is . But I am the worst sick – I feel like I’m going to die. Although I’m pretty much guaranteeing I would feel like dying in a triathalon!!

  22. I would have to say the stomach bug. 26.2 all by itself scares me to pieces. Besides, I am just a reallllly good stomach flu away from my goal weight LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. I saw this earlier today and I’ve been thinking about it off and on all day long. Right not I have a mild stomach bug that is increasing with intensity as the days go on…so I’m going to have to go with stomach bug. Really, I like my exercise mild and making me feel happy and carefree. An Ironman would not do that for me.

    • I cannot begin to tell you the pleasure it gives me to know that you thought about it off and on all day…it is like my work here on the blog is really starting to matter! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Give me the stomach bug…I’d be one of those people to puke after just doing a straight up marathon, so I’m losing nothing by taking the illness road. Plus, the Catholic guilt would get to me for taking so much time away from my family to train…but not at all if I was sick!

  25. Okay, I should say that I am not even close to being able to do this but if I had to choose I would say triathlon. I have had a few stomach bugs and quite frankly don’t even like typing those two words. I figure if I”m going to die I might as well feel I’m doing it for a reason. I’m guessing you would have thought I would go the other way, yes? And, can I just say you two are beyond hysterical. I didn’t realize I was kinky but you both are my blog crush!!!!! Lol! xo

    • We pink puffy heart you, too Kathy! We can totally be a threesome! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of blog love! ๐Ÿ˜‰ You make a good point about going out with a bang…I mean if I am going to die it would be better doing it during an Ironman!

  26. I just started running a few months ago, and I cannot even imagine doing a triathlon – it just would not happen. (Also, I haven’t been on my bike in over 10 years or done much swimming since I have been holding children in the water for almost that long, too.) So I guess I am in Camp Stomach Bug. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I’m going to pick the Ironman even though I really never want to do a triathlon. My husband has done many. Not Ironmans though. I am terrified of being kicked on the swim and being swarmed on the bike. The run I can handle, although I have only done one marathon in my life. Couldn’t I do a shorter triathlon…it would be just as scary for me? You can eat on the bike…all bike shirts have pockets in the back. But cyclists are notoriously healthy eaters, so it would be an interesting reaction to see if you pulled out a Ring-Ding. LOL

    • I can just see the cyclist’s faces now…they are chowing down on their soy, vegan protein bar and I am 2/3 way through a King Size Mars bar! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. Kind of a good question. My first thought was bug because I can’t do a triathlon. On second thought though I would rather spend a week or two doing a triathlon.

  29. LOL at the descriptions and the comments. Seeing how I can’t swim and actually bore the agony of completing a marathon, I was initially leaning towards stomach bug. But I think the rewards of completing a tri out ways that of enduring the bug. I HATE the feeling of nausea. i chose TRI

  30. You just said triathlon, not Ironman triathlon!! That’s cheating! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think I would be WAY more proud to do an Ironman…assuming I could actually finish. That shit is intense. Having run 2 marathons, I can’t imagine doing MORE exercise before that.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had the stomach bug….is it really that bad?

  31. I concede, with no joy in my choice, that I would take the stomach bug. As you said, I ain’t trying to run nowhere for 26 miles. Did that for the Avon Walk, don’t envisage doing it again. Ever. Won’t even touch the 112 miles of the bike part. Whose idea was that again.?? Bring on the stomach bug!

  32. Id have to say if rather do the triathlon – this coming from a gal who just beat the stomach virus and only recently did my first 5k! I’m now training for a 10k so I have a ways to go to get to the triathlon BUT if rather be healthy with those symptoms then sick – this week with the virus has been pretty close to hell! I liked up with you via #sitssharefest

  33. I would love to day oh yeah I can do a triathlon, but lets be serious I would probably die so I know I can survive the stomach bug because I have lived to tell about it!

  34. Wow. This sure is a tough one. I cannot swim but I will learn to and still choose the triathlon over the stomach bug because that sounds nasty! But something tells me that all the fatigue is gonna give me a stomach bug anyway!

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