There are roughly four million people from the U.S. who participate in triathlon each year. And while a small fraction of them have their sights set on the pinnacle of races–that the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii– most of those participants are just looking to cross the finish line.
Should you happen to be part of the second group, you most likely have a lot of questions concerning the various distances, training applications, and time necessary to compete in one of these popular events. Well, the fantastic news is, we have any answers for you–from the athletes and experts themselves.
Bicycling spoke with Tom Holland, M.S., C.S.C.S., and Michael K. Ryan, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center to find out everything you need to know about the different triathlon spaces.
Both enthusiastic triathletes, Holland is a 26-time Ironman triathlon finisher, and Ryan has completed over fifteen Olympic-distance triathlons, three half Ironman triathlons, and one full Ironman triathlon.
Keep reading to learn some of their tips for training for and completing one of the most significant athletic events of the time.
Whether you are a weekend warrior seeking to test your endurance and endurance, or a fitness enthusiast needing a goal to work towards, the sprint distance is the perfect starting point on your triathlon journey.
On average, you will swim 1/2 mile (750 meters), bike for 12.4 miles (20K), and run for 3.1 miles (5K). Based on your fitness level, course requirements, and the weather on race day, you can expect to finish these three legs in about 1.5 hours.
When training for a sprint triathlon, you can plan on dividing out at least three to four months if you’re a novice. However, if you are an experienced triathlete, Ryan says you might only need four to six weeks to acquire race-day ready.
Considering that a sprint is an ideal option for beginner racers, Holland says in case a triathlon involves an open water swim, make sure you escape the pool and in the open water to get at least a couple practice swims.
There are hundreds and hundreds of sprint triathlons throughout the nation, but some of Holland’s treasured sprint races include the Chicago Triathlon and Wildflower Triathlon in California.
Once you’ve conquered the sprint triathlon, it is time to tackle the Olympic distance. Fair warning: the Olympic distance is not a simple feat. This can be a favourite choice for competitors who are training for an Ironman so that you will meet some fierce competitors on race day.
Speaking of the race when you line up on the starting line, get ready to swim 0.93 miles (1.5K), bicycle 24.85 kilometres (40K), and run 6.2 miles (10K). Plan on spending approximately a few hours outdoors swimming, biking, and running when you get to the level. While not overly long, Ryan does state that by the conclusion, it is going to test your endurance, so make your quads burn, and put your mental fortitude to the test.
In terms of how long it’ll have to prepare? Ryan says beginners may need three to five months to be ready for this distance, while seasoned triathletes may need six to 12 weeks.
From the time you’re competing at the Olympic distance, there is a good chance you’ll know what your strengths and weaknesses are. That is why Holland states this is an ideal time to identify which leg you are feeling the least confident about performing on race day and spend more time working on this during your triathlon training.
If you are looking to compete at a few of the more popular Olympic distances, Holland claims to look at trying the New York City Triathlon or Malibu Triathlon. Ryan enjoys the Nation’s Triathlon at Washington, DC, New York Triathlon and Miami Triathlon.
Half Ironman Triathlon
This distance (70.3 miles) will test both your mental and physical strength as you swim 1.2 miles (1.9K), bike 56 miles (90K), and run 13.1 miles (21.1K). It’s essential to notice, says Holland, there are Ironman-distance triathlons as well as specific”Ironman” branded tris, because”Ironman” is a brand new name.
As soon as you reach this level of contest, you can expect to spend approximately five to seven hours completing this race. Consequently, if this triathlon is on your to-do list, ensure you plan accordingly. Ryan says beginners may require four to six weeks to be ready for this distance, while experienced triathletes might only need three to four months.
He suggests figuring out what your particular fueling plan will function –hydration in addition to nutrition–since you will exercise continuously for a protracted-time period.
When you are ready to test the waters for this hard distance, Holland recommends the 70.3 Lake Placid triathlon and 70.3 Ironman Superfrog at California.
Full Ironman Triathlon
This is the”real deal,” says Ryan. Not only is it the most mentally and physically challenging feat of individual wellbeing (hello, 140.6 miles!) Nonetheless, it’s also a massive investment to train correctly. Each year, over 96,000 athletes register to compete in Ironman races, representing over 90 countries, regions and territories.
Based on your fitness level, course conditions, and the weather on race day, you can expect to complete these three legs in approximately 10 to 17 hours. Ryan says beginners may need six to eight months to be prepared for this space, while seasoned triathletes may only require four to six weeks.
Possibly the Most well-known IronmanTriathlon is that the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona. According to Ryan, this is the”be-all-end-all” of triathlon racing. Nevertheless, Holland also likes Ironman Florida.
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