Taking on a triathlon is a daunting task; three separate disciplines all rolled into one race. Training for a triathlon takes dedication but the rewards for your general health can be amazing. A triathlon consists of 3 separate parts, swimming, cycling and the road race. The distances vary with the hardest and most famous triathlon being the Ironman.
I give an idea for the different distances here are a few internationally recognized races for the triathlon. The international race distances known as the Sprint distance is a 750 metre swim, a 20 kilometre bike ride, finishing with a 5 kilometre run. The Olympic distance is a 1.5 kilometre swim, a 40 kilometre bike ride and a 10 kilometre run. The Ironman being recognized as the hardest of them all is a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bike ride, and to finish a marathon, 42.2 kilometre run.
Just to put that into perspective the swim is 2.4 miles the bike ride is 112 miles and the run is 26.2 miles (approximately). Fastest time taken to complete all three was 8 hours 3 minutes and 54 seconds set by Craig Alexander in Hawaii 2011.
When training for any sporting event the simplest advice is to train at a steady pace. Set realistic goals and most importantly don’t injure yourself. So eat well and make sure you get plenty of rest, sleep is when the body heals itself. Skimp on sleep and don’t put enough fuel into the system then don’t be surprised if you get an injury which will slow your progress.
Training for the Swim
Jermey Lefton says – “Most swim sections of a triathlon are in open waters and there are various techniques than can be learnt to improve performance. However as a beginner look to build strength and stamina in the water. Concentrate on your breathing and work to make your swim as efficient as possible. Remember you have a bike ride and a run to follow. Most triathletes work to use their arms the most in the swim section to save the energy in their legs. Once you have built up you confidence in the water, try swimming in open waters with waves. Learn to ‘duck under’ the approaching waves to save energy and this stops you being pushed back.”
Training for the Bike Ride
Jeremy Lefton says – “The bike ride is the longest section and this is the section to fuel up for the run. Eat and drink as much as you can to make sure you have energy left to complete the run section of the course. Train indoors or outdoors just make sure you put in the miles with plenty of resistance. There’s not much point of training on the easiest gears then get to race day and you have a few hills to climb. Working with a good resistance against your legs will help to condition them for whatever the course can throw at you. Another little tip, learn how to change a punctured tire, just in case.”
Training for the Run
Jeremy Lefton Says – “Build the distances you complete at a steady pace and remember to try and limit the impact to your legs. You can build overall fitness from the other two disciplines but over exert on the running can lead to injury. Once you’re happy with the strength in your legs, start to combine the bike ride with a short run of a few miles. This will condition your legs for the transition from cycling to running. Your legs will be tired and your feet will feel heavy as you start to run. Ease into your running stride with smaller steps, allowing your muscles to warm up into the new discipline.”
A Few Words about ‘Transitions’
Jeremy Lefton Says “Transitions are often where races are won and lost. There are two transition points in every triathlon. The first is from the swim to bike ride when a competitor will change from there wet suit in to cycling attire, shoes and helmet. The second transition is from cycling to running, lose the cycling helmet, cycling shoes and change into running shoes.
Practise, practise, practise is the advice here. Time yourself as to how long it takes to change from one discipline to the other. Look for shortcuts, taping food and energy bars to your bike. Slip-on cycling shoes already in the cleats and strapped to your bikes peddles. Remember time lost in the transition has to be made up in the race through blood, sweat and gritted teeth.”