There are few other competitive sports that are as physically and mentally challenging as the triathlon. This grueling challenge combines swimming, biking, and running over long distances. After completing one of the three legs of the challenge, athletes enter a transition area where they replace their gear for the next section. And these aren't short sessions by any means. In the Ultra Distance triathlon, for instance, athletes must swim 3.8 kilometers, bike for an additional 180.2 kilometers, and then run a full marathon.
According to the International Triathlon Union (ITU), there are four types of courses:
1.Sprint: 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer cycle, and 5-kilometer run.
2.Standard: 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer cycle, and 10-kilometer run.
3.Long Course: 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer cycle, and 21.1-kilometer run (half marathon).
4.Ultra Distance: 3.8-kilometer swim, 180.2-kilometer cycle, and 42.2-kilometer run (marathon).
No one knows exactly when or where the triathlon originated from. However, one theory is that it began around the 1920s-1930s in France, with a race incorporating running, swimming and cycling. The race, known as “Les trois sports”, “La Course des Débrouillards”, and “La course des Touche à Tout.” is now an annual event held in Meulan and Poissy, France.
To put the difficulty of the triathlon into perspective, it's estimated that less than 1% of the athletes who compete in the Ultra Distance course complete it. It's such an enduring and challenging sport that health officials have cautioned athletes from participating, but that hasn't stopped hundreds of thousands of people from across the world from attempting a triathlon.
Triathlon Training Tips for Consideration:
Seek medical advice; make sure there are no pre-existing medical conditions that may put your health at risk.
Don't forget to swim. When you're busy training for the running and cycling parts of the competition, it's easy to overlook swimming.
Progressively push your body to its physical limits. You never know what you're capable of achieving until you find your limits.
Eat right. You can't expect to compete in a triathlon while eating highly processed foods with little-to-no actual nutritional value.
Shoes are your most valuable asset. Invest in a pair of lightweight, fitted shoes that offer adequate heel support.
If you are serious about competing in a triathlon, consider hiring a training coach. Past triathlon winners often train new athletes.
Familiarize yourself with the rules. Rules may vary depending on the governing body. With that said, some rules are universal, such as athletes are not allowed to receive help from audience members or anyone else outside of the competition.
Watch a triathlon in person to see what athletes are doing right and what they are doing wrong.