WHAT IS A TRIATHLON?

Rohan Kini BOTS Guides, Triathlon

Triathlons are exciting multi-sport endurance events with three continuous sequential endurance races. The word is of Greek origin – three + competition.

While variations of the sports exist the most common format requires you to clock a swim, a bike ride and a run across various distances in a continuous sequence. This multisport evolved in the 1970s and was introduced as an Olympic sport in the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.

TRIATHLONS EXPLAINED

A Triathlon is a demanding sport that tests an athlete’s skill and efficiency at swimming, cycling, and running. It is a series of 3 continuous legs that form the whole race. It starts with the swim (usually in open water), which is followed by a bike leg and then a run. 

Over the years, triathlons have come to be of different types. The shortest and simplest being the Super Sprint, to the most challenging – the Ultraman.

  • The Super Sprint consists of 0.4km swim, 10km bike ride, and 2.5km run.
  • The Sprint Triathlon includes an approximately 0.75km swim, a 24km bike ride, and a 5km run.
  • The Olympic distance, which is typically 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride, and 10 km run.
  • The Half Ironman is comprised of 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride, and a 21km run.
  • The Ironman distance consists of a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride, and a 42km run.
  • The Ultraman is split into 3 stages over a course of 3 days – Stage 1 includes a 10km swim followed by a 145km cross-country bike ride. Stage 2 includes a 276km bike ride. Stage 3 is an 84km run. Whew!

Check out our list of Top Triathlon Events in India thru 2020. We will be keeping this list updated thru 2020. Do keep visiting it and signing up for events you think you could challenge yourself with!

Triathletes try to compete for the fastest overall course completion time, including timed “transitions” between the individual swim, cycle and run sections. The transition areas are where the switches from swimming to cycling and cycling to running occur and are set up to store bicycles and other accessories needed for the next stage of the race. The transition from swim to bike is called T1 and that between the bike and run is called T2. Transitions are an important part of the sport as well as the athlete’s training to gain time over competition.

Triathlon as a sport requires periodized training in all three sports – Running, Cycling and Swimming, as well as combination workouts and good strength conditioning. Good quality equipment and apparel are critical to deliver the small wins and also, more importantly, keep you comfortable over the long duration of the sport.

WHY YOU SHOULD TRI IT

Triathlon events are gaining popularity in India with good levels of participation. As a sport, this can be enjoyed by someone looking for a big challenge and also enjoyed by anyone looking to step into the world of fitness as the races can last up to 1 hour for the smaller races and as much as 8-11 hours of the longer ones.

There’s often this misconception about a triathlon being a very serious sport that is only reserved for the super elite athletes. While triathlons are still competitions, athletes are incredibly supportive, encouraging and motivating. Triathlons themselves are often weekend events, with a carnival-like atmosphere and family friendly fun. It’s important to always have fun at events such as these.

Besides the competitive and social aspects of a triathlon, triathlons are a great way to improve your fitness levels.

Triathlon training is terrific low-impact cross-training. It’s a great way to modify your training if the pounding of running is starting to bother your joints. By spreading your effort over three different kinds of disciplines, you’ll minimize getting burned out or injured. It will also improve your flexibility and endurance. What’s more? beginners can see huge improvements in their first couple of seasons, and that’s the big motivational boost that gets most beginners hooked onto the sport.

RACE DAY DETAILS (HOW IT WORKS)

Triathlon event organizers are the ones responsible for the smooth functioning and flow of the whole event. All you have to do is show up on time and follow the instructions given to you.

CHECKING-IN

The first thing you need to do on arrival is registering/checking-in. You’ll need to pick up your race number, swim cap, stickers for your bike and helmet, and gear check bag (to store your post-race clothing).

Some races require that you check in the day before the race, while others let you do it all on race day. You’ll be storing your bike (called racking) and gear in a central “transition” area.

SWIM

you might swim in a lake, river, ocean or pool. It all depends on the event organizers. Some may have you start in the water, lining up in the water until the horn goes off. Or you might start on a beach and run into the water. Others have you jumping feet-first off a pool deck, or some sort of elevated platform.

Most people will be swimming using the freestyle stroke, but you’re allowed to swim any stroke you like – the freestyle is usually the most energy efficient. You’ll be following a course, swimming from one buoy to the other until you finish back on the beach or dock.

BIKE

This is the second leg of the race that most people are usually fairly comfortable with. If you lost time during the swim, this is where you can make that up.

As soon as you step out of the water you will need to walk/jog to the transition area to get your bike (you’ll be barefoot, so watch your step!). Change into your cycling shoes, fasten on your helmet and walk your bike to the “bike out”, where you’ll be able to start riding after you pass the marked like for mounting your bicycle.

RUN

There are usually always markings and event crew who will guide you into the dismount area where you will be told when to get off your bike. You will then have to make your way to the transition area where you can ditch your bicycle, helmet, change to your running shoes (if you used cycling shoes on the bike), and head out for the run!

Do check out our TOP 10 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME TRIATHLETES for more detailed information on triathlons for beginners.

TRIATHLON LINGO

Here are a few quirky triathlon specific terms you may come across in your journey in preparing for a triathlon.

  • Mount line: You can’t get on your bike until you cross this line.
  • Timing chip: Athletes are given a chip to wear that is attached around their ankles via an ankle strap, through the whole race to track your time.
  • Trisuit: Consists of a one-piece style suit, that you wear through all the legs of the event.
  • Wetsuit: A snug-fitting suit worn for the swimming leg when the water is cold – to keep their bodies warm. Wetsuits also make you more buoyant and faster.
  • TT bike/tri bike: Special road bikes made for triathlon racing, with flat handlebars and a set of aerobars.
  • Speed laces: Elastic laces for your running shoes to save time tying them in a transition
  • Racking: Placing your bike in the transition area on provided racks.
  • Drafting: Drafting on the bike course refers to when you closely follow another athlete to reduce wind resistance. It is only allowed in draft-legal races.
  • DNS/DNF: Did Not Start and Did Not Finish.
  • Brick: Combination workouts that include two disciplines back to back with minimal interruption, such as a bike followed by a run.
  • Aerobars: Special handlebars that extend out from your bike and give you a place to rest your elbows. They offer a more aerodynamic, tucked position than can help you achieve fast bike times.

Are you looking for something different from the usual marathons or bike races? Do you enjoy endurance sport? Are you looking to get super fit and looking for a really challenging goal? Do you love gadgets?

Signing up for a Triathlon might just hit the spot!

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