Posts Tagged ‘swim’
The triathlon boom is on! Statistics say triathlon growth is at an all time high in the United States. USA Triathlon membership has grown by large percentages in the past 10 years, rising from a little over 19,000 to almost 135,000 in 2010.
Whether you’re an athlete fending off injury and time out of the picture, a first-time exerciser trying to lose some excess pounds and keep them off or a single-sport individual seeking your next fitness challenge, tri fever is sweeping the nation and more and more men and women are getting on the band wagon.
Tri Goals to Go For
Triathlons run almost year around in the US and they vary a lot in terms of length and location. You can start with a pool-based tri if you don’t like the thought of racing in open choppy water. If you’re not quite up to hills with your bike riding, you can choose a race that’s nice and flat.
Most tri events fall into one of three distances even though there are a few that offer a super-sprint that’s shorter than a sprint or middle-distance that’s between Olympic and Ironman. Here is a list of the 3 main triathlon races and also the half Ironman:
SPRINT: 750m (.45-mile) swim, 20K (12-mile) bike, 5K (3.1-mile) run
OLYMPIC: 1.5K (.93-mile) swim, 40K (24.8-mile) bike, 10K (6.2-mile) run
Half-IRONMAN: 1.9K (1.2-mile) swim, 89.6K (56-mile) bike, 21 K (13-mile) run
IRONMAN: 3.8K (2.4-mile) swim, 180K (112-mile) bike, 42K (26.2-mile) run (marathon)
In between every leg is a stage known as transition which gives you time to get ready for the following discipline. For example, between the swim and bike legs, you’ll have a transition to remove your wetsuit and put on your helmet, etc. for biking. It’s not the time to relax too much though as the time you spend in transition is counted in your overall official finish time.
If you’re a first-timer, a sprint tri can be the best way to get your feet wet. Be aware that you can move up to an Ironman event in as little as nine months with hard training and strong determination.
Breaking the Bank?
Will you need to sell your spouse, kids or possibly rob a bank to fund your triathlon interest? Surprisingly, no. Set a reasonable budget that you can live with and you’ll see it will be easier than you might imagine to make kit choices that are cost-effective.
Starting with the swim leg: a basic suit, swim cap and goggles are all a must. A wetsuit will also be necessary if you’re racing in open water. This doesn’t mean you’ll be set back a small fortune as there are a number of brick and mortar stores and online shops that offer wetsuit rental with the option to purchase one down the line. This is an ideal way to go for first-time triathletes.
The next stop should be the local bike shop to get fitted for a set of wheels. Don’t get sidetracked by the razzle dazzle of high-end racing bikes. For your first few tri events, a reasonably priced road bike will suffice. Taking your old bike and fixing it up can save a few dollars but be sure it’s road-worthy before getting on and riding down the street. Next, look for an officially recognized safety helmet as they are compulsory – aerodynamic, suave look comes second!
The final thing on your essentials list is a good pair of running shoes for all and a sports bra for the ladies.
If you’re totally starting from scratch, you may consider a tri ‘start-up’ package. Most triathlon retailers offer the essential – wetsuit, bike, helmet, running shoes and other pieces – for a reasonable price.
Choosing your Training Schedule
Your current fitness levels and different sports background as well as family and work commitments will determine the way you structure your training schedule. Following are five good points to consider before embarking on your tri training:
1. Do an honest self-examination of your strengths and weaknesses. Most people will favour one sport over the others but you must put in the hours across all three or you’ll be dragging on race day.
2. Slowly build up your training level. If you haven’t been doing anything, start out slowly by exercising only 3 times a week. If your fitness level is already solid you can add in more frequent sessions but remember you will be starting new things with new demands so give your body time to adapt. You can also incorporate other workout routines in your schedule to keep things exciting and help build your body fitness levels in new ways.
3. Throw out the myth that says if you cut back on your best or favorite sport, it will negatively affect your performance. Realize that training in different disciplines can improve your effectiveness in another sport.
4. Remember the importance of rest days. Training too hard across three different disciplines can lead to overtraining and exhaustion.
5. In later stages of your training, brick sessions – back-to-back workouts – can be very beneficial. They prepare your muscles for race day and also allow you to practice the logistics of transition.