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Triathlon Training Part 1: How to Prepare

Triathlon Training Part 1: How to Prepare

06Jun

What is a Triathlon?

Triathlon is an endurance sport that involves the completion of three continuous and sequential disciplines. Individual athletes or a relay team complete a swimming, cycling and running segment, with the clock running from the beginning of the swim to the end of the run, continuing through each transition.

In an attempt to appeal to all abilities and ages, most events offer a range of distances:
Try-a-Tri: 250m swim, 6km cycle, 3km run
Sprint: 750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run
Standard: 1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run
Middle: 1900m swim, 90km cycle, 21.1km run
Long: 3800m swim, 180k cycle, 42.2k run

How to Prepare for Triathlon

The thought of competing in a triathlon can seem daunting for newcomers, however knowing where to start your training is the first step in getting started:

  1. Base Fitness Level – Developing a base level of aerobic fitness is the first step as a beginner, in order to increase the capacity of both your muscles and cardiovascular system. You need to ensure that your muscles have sufficient training so that you don’t overexert them on the day of the triathlon, which can result in painful muscle cramps or injury. Gradually build up the time that you exercise over a number of months and while at the beginning you may only focus on one discipline, slowly introduce all three disciplines into your training, increasing intensity after you have built up the volume of training.
  2. Brick Training – If you are new to the sport of triathlon, brick training may be a foreign concept. It refers to the transition training one has to do in preparation for the swimming to cycling transition and then from the cycling to running transition. Brick training helps your body adapt to the new way you will be using your muscles in quick succession. The bike-run transition tends to be the more difficult one as often your quads will feel heavy when you hop off the bike and immediately expect them to run. In addition, your brain has to adapt from the split second change of telling your legs to conduct pedal circles, to supporting your body weight and running. A good way to start brick training is by following your cycle with a low intensity short run. Over the coming weeks, you can build up the time/intensity that you run following your cycle until you reach your race pace.
  3. Nutrition and Hydration – Staying hydrated before, during and after any exercise is vital for maximum performance and to help in the prevention of muscle cramps. Excessive sweating can lead to a significant loss in electrolytes which will need to be restored. We lose more sodium when we sweat in comparison to other electrolytes so in order to avoid dangerous low blood sodium levels, ensure you are replacing the sodium in your body with salty foods before and after exercise, or with sports drinks high in a variety of minerals.

As a physiotherapist, I can’t highlight enough the importance of listening to your body. Rest days are hugely important as your body needs time to recover from the increased training and recuperate so that it can perform just as well during your next training session and more importantly on race day. I also recommended incorporating some pilates into your training program to build on your core strength, which will help improve your performance and help in injury prevention. Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, we offer a range of pilates classes for various levels provided by a chartered physiotherapist. If you wish to know more about our classes, feel free to get in contact with us. In addition, if you do encounter any issues whilst training or feel that an injury is starting to impede your progress, speak to one of our physiotherapists today.

If you are interested in competing in a triathlon, the Fingal Skerries Triathlon in taking place this Sunday June 10th, the Dun Laoghaire Ironman August 19th and the Dublin City Triathlon September 8th. For other events taking place outside of Dublin and for more information on triathlons, check out the Triathlon Ireland website. 

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