A triathlon is a race incorporating the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. There are recognised distances, but a triathlon could be of any combination of lengths. The recognised distances are as follows:
Super-Sprint: 400m swim – 10km cycle – 2.5km run
Sprint: 750m swim – 20km cycle – 5km run
Standard (or Olympic): 1500m swim – 40km cycle – 10km run
Middle (or Half Ironman) 1.9km swim – 90km cycle – 21km run
Ironman: 3.8km swim – 180km cycle – 42km run
What are the rules and tips for the transitions?
There are two transitions in a triathlon, usually called T1 & T2. T1 is the swim to bike transition and T2 the bike to run transition.
Transitions are a very important part of a triathlon – a sloppy transition could lose you minutes on an opponent or your PB, minutes that are very very hard to make up over a short run – so practice is key. You can also receive penalties for breaking transition rules so knowing the rules and staying calm are also important.
T1 – Run to your bike, remove goggles, swim cap and wetsuit if it’s an open water swim. Put on any bike clothes, bike shoes, number belt, helmet and glasses. Take bike and run over the mount line before getting on and away.
YOUR HELMET MUST BE ON AND FASTENED BEFORE TOUCHING YOUR BIKE
YOUR RACE NUMBER MUST BE ON YOUR BACK FOR THE BIKE SECTION
T2 – Hop off your bike before the dismount line and run to your area. Rack your bike, remove bike gear, put on running shoes and go.
YOUR BIKE MUST BE RACKED BEFORE YOU TAKE OFF YOUR HELMET
YOUR RACE NUMBER MUST BE ON YOUR FRONT FOR THE RUN SECTION
These are the basics – Transition can become a fine art as you become more experienced.
What should I know for the bike section?
The bike leg of a triathlon is the longest of the three disciplines. It is therefore important to be comfortable on the bike. Ensuring you have the right size bike and that it is set up correctly for you is important for comfort and for efficiency. Dress correctly for the weather conditions – a little longer in transition putting on a jacket or leggings will help in the long run.
The bike section is also the time when you can take on fuel. Carry a drink bottle and food/gels to ensure you remain hydrated and have enough energy for the upcoming run.
There are lots of rules governing the bike section of a triathlon. Some standard and some specific to certain events. Make sure you know and understand them. One important rule is the rule that says that you are not allowed external help. This means you must carry your own tools and make any mechanical or puncture repairs yourself – it’s too late to learn how on the day so ensure you know your bike basics in advance.
How hard will the run be after all that?
Answer – very hard.
Coming off the bike your blood will be in all the wrong muscles for running, they will feel heavy and wobbly and you will think you will never finish the run. Don’t worry, you will. It can take a mile or more, but you will settle down and eventually run normally.