Intro to Triathlon

When you think of a triathlete, what comes to mind? You may envision a lean, hard-core, spandex-clad athlete tucked in the aero position of their $12,000 bike during a grueling 5-hour training session. While that description does fit some triathletes, it by no means encompasses ALL triathletes. That image is exactly why triathlon can feel intimidating to the beginner. With multiple distance options, triathlon is a sport that absolutely can be accessible to athletes of all levels of experience.

If you considering your first tri, I’ve got some great news! Starting next week, I will be coaching two members of the 13 On Your Side news team, Shanna Grove and Laura Hartman, through their first triathlon! I invite you to join us over the next few months as we unpack exactly what it takes to complete a sprint triathlon.

Our series will touch these important triathlon topics (plus more):

  • Intro to sport of triathlon

  • Sprint triathlon training plan

  • Rules for triathlon

  • Bike training: how to effectively train indoors and triathlon rules for biking

  • Swim training - how to find a pool without a gym membership, what to practice, where to get lessons, what to expect with an open water swim

  • Run training: how to build fitness and be an effective runner off the bike

  • All the gear: what's essential and what's a luxury

  • Nutrition - race day and while training

  • Triathlon logistics and practicing transition

  • Final race prep, taper, race jitters

We will conclude with a celebration as Shana and Laura cross the finish line of the Grand Rapids Triathlon on June 9!

Let’s get started!

Triathlon traditionally consists of three disciplines, swim, bike and run, completed as an individual or a team, over various distances. Triathlon began in the early 1970’s and grew quickly in popularity and soon became an Olympic sport.

Triathlons include various distances, such as super-sprint, sprint, Olympic, Half, Long-Distance, Ultra or Full. You’ve probably also heard of the Ironman – which is a specific brand of triathlon, most commonly the full distance. For our talks, we will focus on the sprint distance.

The distances for each discipline of sprint triathlon are typically:

  • Half mile swim (800m)

  • 12 mile bike (20k)

  • 3.1 mile run (5K)

Once the starting gun goes off the race is run continuously, so the transitions between each discipline are an important part of the race. Time penalties can be issued by race officials if athletes violate any of the race rules such as drafting on the bike (in a non-drafting race), improper passing, littering, outside assistance or unsportsmanlike conduct.

Triathlon is an endurance sport. Training for an endurance event should be periodized, meaning that you grow and improve your fitness methodically over a period of time. We will be following a 12-week periodized training plan, which I will link to a future blog.

Thousands of triathlons are held each year, and it is no surprise to me that it has become the fastest growing sport in the US. Since completing my first triathlon in 2010, I have fallen in love with the sport, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to coach Laura and Shanna through their very first tri!

Photo Credits to Mike Mielock Photography and Rudy Malmquist (StellaFly)

Featured Posts