A triathlon is a multi-sport event and while there are variations (we’re thinking adventure races that often combine a trio of less typical disciplines) the most common form involves swimming, cycling and running over various distances. Triathlon tests your whole body and, perhaps more so, your mind.
Triathlons come in different categories and on Racecheck we list them as Short, Standard, Middle, Long and Ultra. Not all events within the same category have exactly the same course lengths, due to the vagaries of the local landscape, but a Short event will be approximately split 400m/15km/5km for the swim/bike/run legs. The Standard format, also known as Olympic or ‘international distance’ triathlon, is split 1.5km/40km/10km, but again there’s some variation across courses. Ultra events take things further, with some whopping distances available should that be how your particular boat requires floating. You’ll find Ironman races in this category.
It goes without saying that a triathlon is a stern test. Experienced athletes will tell you that the real challenge, other than the distance, is converting from one discipline straight to another. The race is won not only in the disciplines themselves but also in the ‘transition’ – the clock doesn’t stop while you lace up your running shoes, or do up your helmet straps.
Jumping straight from a swim and hopping onto the bike, takes practice and as such your training should involve some ‘dry runs’ of the transitions themselves. You should also try and fit in some multi-disciplinary training sessions. After a swim at your local pool try getting straight on to the gym bike – or as quickly as you can without treading pool water through the gym! – to get your body used to the demands you’ll be putting on it.
The same applies for the bike/run change – it’s not uncommon for triathletes to feel a little like their legs aren’t their own after going straight from the bike to the running shoes. As with all good things in life, it’s not easy and it takes practice. A lot of practice.
Racecheck’s can help you find great races that are the right distance for you, as well as identifying the best-run ones via the power of athlete reviews.