Pick Your Triathlon Distance
Although most people are familiar with the Ironman World Championship held in Kona, Hawaii each year, it is the growth of the more approachable, shorter distance triathlons that have led to the sport’s explosion. The “Full Ironman” distances of a 2.6-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run sure is a huge accomplishment, but not everyone is physically or mentally wired to take that on. Watching the Kona race on TV or in person is incredibly inspiring.
The shorter varieties, Sprint, Olympic and Half Ironman events can be found locally and these versions have become more popular each year. The Sprint Tri distances of a half-mile swim, 12-14 mile bike and 3-mile run are great for beginners who want to test the waters. The Olympic distances, 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run, are about double the length of a Sprint race and a Half Ironman is exactly that, half of a Full Ironman.
How to Get Started With Triathlon Training
Typically, athletes who are considering doing a triathlon bring some sort of background in one of the three disciplines to the table. Having a “strong leg” in triathlon racing is a great springboard to enter the sport. Simply meaning that if you have always been doing some sort of running, you know you can rely on that experience for the advantage at the end of the race. Swimmers have always been successful at triathlons as well since it is the most technical portion.
Still, others are drawn to the sport because of the diversity of training that is required. Planning workouts to feature each aspect removes the monotonous nature of striving to increase fitness with the same activity. Training for triathlons provides a well-rounded level of fitness that helps to prevent injuries that come with the repetition of a single sport.
One thing is certain though, improving at all disciplines requires planning and commitment. The triathlon lifestyle can be a guiding force to make healthy decisions that are focused on a training and recovery schedule.
Advice on Triathlon Training
2016 Olympic triathlete, Joe Maloy, the top USA finisher in the Rio Games and currently leading the US College Recruitment Program, emphasizes that a broad fitness base is crucial to success in triathlon. Logging over 30 hours a week during the heaviest phases of his training, Maloy points out that Olympic distance and Half Ironman training is similar, though he focuses on the speed difference.
“The distance of the swim is relatively the same between the two but the bike portion and run are twice as long for a Half Ironman. So my workouts feature more intensity to develop speed”, Maloy points out.
52-year-old amateur, Vince Mancuso has competed in 20 Full Ironman’s and participates in various distances just for the love of the sport and the fitness it provides. “I typically train seven days a week, three days a week riding, one long run a week and another day with a short speed run. I am in the pool at least 1 day a week and I include 3 days in the gym lifting”, shared Mancuso. “As a race approaches, I increase the swim days with open water sessions.”
But it’s the community that surrounds the sport that Mancuso draws on for motivation. “The groups that I train with have become some of my closest friends. It’s great to support each other and have our own little competitions within the bigger picture. It’s a healthy lifestyle and I see each race gaining more participants each year.”
Needless to say, choosing which triathlon distance is right for you will really depend on how much time you put into it and how it fits your lifestyle. Warmer weather and triathlon season is right around the corner, so get out there!