1) How long is a triathlon?
Triathlons vary in length. There are 5 standard distances:
- Sprint – 1/2-mile (.5mile) Swim, 12.5 miles (20k) Bike, 3.1-mile (5k) Run
- Olympic/International – 1.5k (.9-mi) Swim, 40k (24.8-mi) Bike, 10k (6.2-mi) Run
- Half-Iron Distance – 1.2-mile (1.9k) Swim, 56-mile (90k) Bike, 13.1-mile (21k) Run
- Full Iron Distance – 2.4-mile (3.8k) Swim, 112-mile (180k) Bike, 26.2-mile (42k) Run
- Enduro Tri – Sprint Race x 2 (very popular in New Zealand & Australia)
2) How much time will I need to train for a triathlon?
The amount of time necessary to train for a triathlon is dependent on your goals. The important question to ask is “do I just want to finish or do I want to be competitive?” Previous experience and training in the 3 disciplines will also make a difference. It is important to train your weakness, in an attempt to be proficient at swim, bike, run, and transitions. A sprint distance triathlon can be successfully completed in as few as 4 hours per week over a 6-week training period. Training for an Iron distance event one should allow at least six months and 20 hours per week. For those preparing to race at an elite level for an iron distance triathlon, training is a full time job. It is important to set your priorities in life and decide what place triathlon will occupy.
3) What is the essential equipment?
- Road Bike or Tri Bike
- Wetsuit (highly recommended)
- Running Shoes
- Swim Cap (race should provide one)
- Race #’s
4) What should I eat or drink for triathlons?
Nutrition for triathlons will depend on the distance of your race, as well as your fitness, as that will affect how long you are racing. For Sprint and Olympic distance races a carbohydrate drink such as Cytomax G20, or Accelerade and sports gels, such as Clif Shot, Carb Boom, Crank, Gu, or Hammer Gel will suffice. For Half-Iron distacne or full iron distance events you will need a more substantial supply of calories, including a mix of carbohydrate and protein. Nutrition choices for any length of event should be something that is palatable and that you look forward to. Caloric needs will vary based on your body weight and level of exertion. Average need is 200 – 500 calories per hour. Electrolyte Replacement is another important subject; we recommend Lava Salts or Endurolytes by Hammer Gel. Being aware of race conditions and consuming plenty of water is also vital. The best advice is to experiment in training and find what works best for you.
5) What should I look for in purchasing a wetsuit?
1. Should I purchase a full or sleeveless suit?
Many people will purchase a sleeveless suit if they are new to triathlon as a sleeveless will be lower in price. The benefits of a full suit include an increase in buoyancy as more of your body is covered in neoprene, less drag due to a tighter seal around your wrist than shoulder/ arm, and the ability to swim comfortably in colder temperatures. Some people are worried about overheating in a full suit. This should not be a concern. If the water temperature is above 78° wetsuits will not be allowed. Very experienced swimmers or those with larger back or shoulder muscles may prefer a sleeveless suit, but the majority of triathletes will be faster in a full suit.
2. What should I look for in the fit of a wetsuit?
Wetsuits are sized on a height to weight ratio. However, not all of our body types fit into the convenient sizing chart. You want the suit to fit as snug as possible without being constrictive. Suits will conform to your body after swimming in them a time or two. They usually feel too tight when trying them on but buying a suit that is too large is the biggest mistake. Any extra room in the suit will allow water in and create drag. If possible try on suits for comparison. Women will want to be sure to purchase a women’s specific suit. For those will less typical body proportions I recommend the Desoto two-piece suits.
3. Are there any other considerations?
Almost all wetsuit manufacturers have a couple different grades of neoprene, which doesn’t affect durability but does drastically affect the fit and function. A more expensive suit will be made of a more flexible neoprene, which will help the suit go on and off more smoothly. The expensive suit will also have more pieces, contributing to a more tailored fit and range of motion. The best thing to do is try on several suits from several different manufacturers to find the best possible fit. That way you will know why you selected a less expensive suit or opted for a more expensive one. We sell Ironman, Aquaman & woman, Highway 19, and the Desoto two-piece suits. I can recommend each of these suits and help you find the one that best fits your needs.
6) What is the difference between a road bike and tri bike?
The most obvious difference in a bike for triathlon and a standard road bike is the addition of aero bars. A set of clip-on aero bars can be added to any bike, but requires changing the “fit” of the bike to be an advantage. You then have the option of adding bar end shifters or sticking with traditional STI Levers. Aero bars, coupled with a good aero fit, will give you a more aerodynamic position and other options for body positioning… enhanced comfort over a long period of time.
The most valuable difference in a tri specific bike is a steeper seat tube angle. This puts your body in a more forward position, which saves your hamstrings for the running portion of the race. A steeper seat tube angle will better accommodate the addition of aero bars.
The most important piece of “speed work” for a triathlete would be the addition of aero wheels. You will also enhance your cycling pleasure and triathlon performance by having a good bike fit. We can help you find the position to keep you injury free, optimize power output and increase aerodynamics.
Speedy Reedy Triathlon Race Day Checklist:
[ ] Breakfast
[ ] Energy Drink
[ ] Sports Gels / Energy Bars / Etc.
[ ] Wetsuit
[ ] Bike Shoes
[ ] Socks (optional)
[ ] Running Shoes
[ ] Helmet
[ ] Sunglasses
[ ] Sunscreen
[ ] Towel
[ ] Goggles
[ ] Swim Cap
[ ] Race Numbers
[ ] Bike Pump
[ ] Race Wheels & Skewers
[ ] Repair Kit
[ ] Watch
[ ] Race Belt (optional)
[ ] Timing Chip Strap (optional)
[ ] USAT Card / $ / Credit Card
[ ] Additional Gear