I know people who do at least one triathlon every weekend during the summer but I also know people who only participate in 1 or 2 a season. Generally, the older you are and more experienced you are in endurance sports, the better your body will handle the high stress of many races. As a newbie, start out with 2 to 4 races your first season and then gradually add until you feel comfortable. Remember to listen to your body and cut back if you think you are on the brink of getting injured...it's too easy to push yourself and pay for it later!
I would do as many as you can as long as you are enjoying it. A lot of times I'll use some of the shorter races as training for bigger races. If you are doing so many that you begin to dread races or its interfering with other activities you find more enjoyable than that's too many.
There is no correct answer here. You could do as many as you can get to, pay for, and recover from. As a practical matter, one or two long races (70.3 and 140.6) and a few Olympic and Sprint events works for most of us age group types. Julie Ann's answer about doing as many as you enjoy and using shorter ones as training for longer ones is helpful. Paying for race registrations, lodging, travel, etc. can add up quickly. Have fun.
Thats a tough question and it depends on you as an individual and also on your goals. If you are serious about training for longer distances, it is possible to peak twice.
If you are competing for for fitness, race away!
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I sometimes race 15 times in a year. You just need to accept that not every race can be "A Priority" and also need to recover really well. Here's a good article on that:
Hope that helps!
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How many triathlons in a year? As many as I can afford. I live in an area where to go to triathlons is generally an overnight. Each sprint triathlon ends up costing around $200-250 all things considered. Longer distances cost more. So I have the choice of fewer, longer events, or more sprints. A combo of the two works best for me. I try to keep my triathlon budget around $2000-2500 a year not including equipment, nutrition,etc.
I've found that I can offset the cost of entry fees by volunteering at other races by the same organizer. I have friends who do this as well and rarely pay for their races, at least in cash. The more you do the more you can get free entries. I'm doing a 10K on Saturday for free because I'm helping at the registration desk and then doing the bike lead for a half marathon on Feb 12th.
The physical side of continual racing has been pretty well covered but I think the recovery side is worth my 2 cents. Pay attention to how you're feeling. My personal recovery times are about 10 days for a sprint, 16 days for an olympic, and 4 to 5 weeks for a half ironman. My olympic and half were part of a 3 race series last year with 4 weeks between each one. Throwing in training and a few half marathons made for a demanding summer and by the end I was getting some serious signals to lighten up from my muscles. The other half of it is how hard you push yourself at those events. If you're looking to do a sprint every weekend don't plan on going full speed unless you're already at Ironman fitness levels.
My personal record for sprint tri's in a summer is 7. Before starting though I was already running a 55 minute 10K and riding 3 hour metric centuries (100K / 62 miles) races on the bike. Your base fitness at the start of the season is the main determining factor, IMHO.
My adopted motto: Relentless Forward Motion