One of the biggest attractions of triathlon is that can be a great lifestyle sport – you trainas much as you can be and when you can. You don’t need to train as much as highly dedicated. You can just go to your local pool for a 30 minute swim a couple of times a week, cycle to and from work, and go jogging with your family at weekends or in the evenings. If that is all you can do, that’s fine. It will be more than enough training to get you around a sprint – distance triathlon course.
Triathlon is now one of the world’s fastest growing sports. It’s hardly surprising that more people than ever are – like you – keen to take part in this fantastic and rewarding sport.
The Professionals - their speeds of closeto 40kph (25mph0 for women and 45kph (28mph) for men. 45 seconds in transition and run 10 km in under 35 minutes. It is exhilarating, dynamic, and inspiring.
The Novices - It can be just inspiring to watch novice triathletes swimming breaststroke for 400m in a pool. After the swim leg, they walk to their bikes, put tjeir socks on in transition and then walk with their bikes to the mount line for the cycle section to complete 20 km at speed of around 20 kph (12mph)
A lifestyke choice – middle ground between the novice and the elite athletes. Some of them dedicated more than 15 hours per week to training, while juggling a full time job, family commitments and social life.
Many athletes come to triathlon from others sports, while have no sporting background at all.Others are just looking for a new challenge. I was a horse rider. When I started triathlon training at 29 I had never cycled competitively and couldn’t swim! I am still learning new things and love challenges thst this fantastic sport brings me every day.
Something for everyone
There are four main triathlon distances:
- Sprint 750m swim – 20km bike – 5km run
- Olympic 1500m swim – 40km bike – 10km run
- Half Ironman or 70.3 1900m swim – 90km bike – 21km run
- Ironman 3.8km swim – 180km bike – 42km run
Different distances require different skill levels and therefore different levels of training and preparation, but there is something to suit everyone.
750m swim – Bike 20km – Run 5km
If you are new to triathlon, the sprint distance is the shortest and perhaps the easiest to start with.
While you can push your body really hard during the sprint, working high levels of intensity, the end of each leg is not too far off. If this is your first triathlon and just want to get round, don’t overdo it in your preparation phase: adapt this sample 12 week programme to your needs
Elite athelets typically complete sprint distances in under an hour. Mid – pack athletes will probably take about 80 minutes or longer to finish.
If this is your first triathlon, your main aim could be get around the course and complete it successfully.
In order to reduce the risk of injury, you must first complete the foundation phase of training
The sprint programme includes several high intensity sessions at Levels 4 and 5. If you are fit, you can push your body harder for shorts periods of time during the sprint, but this involves a little more lactate threshold level. However if you want just to complete the race, you don’t need high intensity training sessions to do that
Swim 1500m – Bike 40km – Run 10km
You are pushing the bodys’s aerobic threshold, it demands physical and mental toughness.
Elite male athletes will complete an Olympic triathlon in under two hours, female will not be far behind.
A mid – pack athlete will typically complete this distance in about two and a half hours.
This race is about mental fortitude as well as endurance. The distances are demanding and the speed of each stage is fast, so you will need to strike a balance between lasting the distance and racing it hard. First – timers should just get a feel for the pace, trust their training, and focus on strong pace.
The foundation phase allows you to work on the mechanics of your swimming, running, and cycling and ensures you progress safely throughout the training programme, minimazing risk of injury.
You will need to build strength endurance. The work schedule is similar to the sprint programme, with session acorss different levels intensity, but you will be asked to swim, bike, and run for longer, in order to build both physical and mental strength.
HalfIronman (70.3) programme
Swim 1900 – Bike 90km – Run 21km
This is a test of endurance and aerobic capacity. Planning your fuelling strategy for this distance is the key to success, you need enough energyto meet the demands of each leg you run the risk of “running on empty” at the end.
Elite male athletes complete this distance in about 4 hours 15 minutes, female about 4 hours 30 minutes.
Mid – pack athletes typically finish in about 5 hours 30 minutes.
The Halfironman is a greatest test of endurance than Sprint and Olypmic triathlons, so your training programme opposite places more emphasis on distance in the run and bike session, and less on high intensity. Working more Level 3 will help to increase aerobic capacity and train your body to use energy more effeciently. A key outcome of your training is the ability to endure a bike intensity close to your aerobic threshold while mentally dealing with the half marathon still to come.
Swim 3.8km – Bike 180km – Run 42km
IM is the greatest endurance test of all, and your training requires total focus and self – discipline. Prepare properly, build steadily, and reap the glory when you cross that finish line.
The race day lasts about 10-14 hours. Elite male athletes typically complete this race in about 8 hours and 30 minutes, female in about 9 hours and 15 minutes.
Mid – pack athletes take between 10 hours 45 minutes and 12 hours, with the cut – off being 17 hours.
It takes many months of dedicated training to prepare for an Ironman, so stay focused.
Any athletes who takes on this distance must be robust, so fitness is crucial before embarking on the Ironman training programme.Ironman is a long way. Work in the Level 1 and Level 2 zones, and you will need to build steadily to avoid injury. Precision fuelling is also very important, so use your training to experiment with optimum nutrition and hydration.