Q. What are the distances for triathlons?
A. Triathlons typically fall into four formats: sprint, olympic, half-Ironman and Ironman distances. A sprint distance involves anywhere from 400-825 yards of swimming, 10-12 miles of cycling and 3 miles of running. The olympic distance format is twice that of the sprint and also known as the "international distance." It involves 1.5 Kilometers (.9 miles) of swimming, 40k (24.9 miles) of cycling and 10k (6.2 miles) of running. This is the official distance for Triathlon in the Olympics, hence the name. The half-Ironman distance is a little more than twice that of the Olympic distance, except for the swim portion. It involves 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling and 13.1 miles of running. The next distance of racing is the Ironman distance; it is twice the distance of the half-Ironman. It consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running. Ouch!
Q. What type of equipment will I need to begin training to participate in triathlons?
A. Here is an equipment list of the average triathlete:
Swim training equipment:
* Swim suits (for training and racing)
* Goggles (training and racing or for different lighting conditions)
* Swim fins
* Swim strength/stroke development paddles
* Bike shorts (have special padding for comfort on hard saddles and long rides)
* Bike jersey (made with advanced fabrics to wick moisture away from your body, has special pockets to store food and other handy items while riding)
*Gloves (padded to add comfort to your hands and to protect in case of an accident)
* Bike shoes (these shoes are designed to work with "clipless bike pedals," they are built to withstand the rigors of cycling and have a special platform that is super stiff)
* Clipless pedals (pedals designed to lock your shoe into the pedal platform, allows you to transfer your power into the pedal stroke more efficiently)
* Running shoes (designed specifically for running)
* Run clothing (made of advanced materials to wick moisture away from the body, keeping you dryer and cooler in warm conditions and warmer in cold conditions)
*Nutrition (training for and racing in triathlons involves expending a lot of energy; triathletes have to be able to fuel their bodies for optimal performance and to help maintain their health)
Q. I just started swimming and I notice that other swimmers wear speedos. What's the difference between wearing regular swim trunks and a speedo?
A. You can always tell someone who's new to swimming by the way they move from the locker room to the pool: they are the ones getting in the pool as fast as they can so that no one sees them. People who are new to swimming often find swimming in a speedo intimidating, unless of course you're from Europe or you're a tri-geek, then walking around in a speedo is included in your daily activities. Wearing a speedo means that you'll have less drag created from your suit when swimming, which translates into more speed with less effort during your swim training. Also, if you train in trunks, you are unable to get the full benefit of your stroke as they hinder your stroke efficiency. Not only that but a speedo is a symbol that says you're serious about training for swimming... why else would you go to the pool 7/8's naked?
Q. I keep hearing about the importance of technique when swimming. What can I do to improve my technique?
A. Proper swim technique will allow you to swim faster while expending less energy. By being more efficient you can save more energy for the later portions of a triathlon. Swim technique is a learned skill that you have to practice throughout your swim training. Trisports.com offers a variety of books to help you improve your swim technique and triathlon training, from some of the leading experts in swimming and triathlon training. There are also training tools available to help you develop a proper and efficient stroke, such as StretchCordz.
Q. There are a lot of goggles out there on the market. What should I look for in a swim goggle?
A. To find the goggles that suit your needs the best, it is important to know in what conditions you will be swimming. These are the questions that might help find the goggles appropriate for you. Do you swim in the mornings, afternoons or evenings? Some goggles are clear or offer different shading to improve your sight in low light conditions, while others are tinted dark or mirrored to protect your eyes from the bright sun. Do you swim in a pool or in open water? All goggles will work in a pool but in open water swimming, like in many triathlons, it's important to have goggles that won't come off your face when a big wave hits you, or won't dig into your face if you happen to have a flailing arm hit you in the swim. Of course, it's important to find a pair that fits you, so look for goggles with adjustable nosepieces and head straps.
Q. What's the difference between the wheels on which I train and special aerodynamic racing wheels?
A. Many triathletes train and race on the same bike wheels. However, race wheels are designed with aerodynamics in mind. A pair of aero wheels will allow you to cut through the air more efficiently and allow you to reach higher speeds through better aerodynamics. A pair of race wheels can help you save precious time in timed events. trisports.com offers a wide selection of aerodynamic race wheels from HED, Zipp, Mavic and Rolf.
Q. What's the difference between triathlon bikes and road bikes?
A. Triathlon bikes are designed with a different geometry than road bikes. Triathlon bikes are more forward in their seat tubes (between 75-78 degrees) and are set up lower in the front end to provide a time trial position. A steeper seat tube angle emphasizes the quads more to save the use of your run muscles so that you have more get up and go when you start the run portion of a triathlon. Triathlon bikes come in 650c or 700c wheel sizes. 650c wheels accelerate better and are lighter, having less surface area exposed to the wind than 700c wheels. They are more proportional to riders under 5'10''. 700c wheels have long been the standard in the bike industry. Although slightly larger, 700c wheels offer more comfort and less rolling resistance than 650c wheels and are more proportional to riders over 5'10''. Regular road bikes have a more slack seat tube angle, from 72-74 degrees, and are set up for all-purpose riding. They are designed to corner, climb, and sprint well. The road bike position is more upright and less aerodynamic than a time trial position. A road bike position uses all of the leg muscles to provide as much power to the bike as possible. A road bike can be converted to a triathlon bike with the addition of a forward seat post and aero bars. Trisports.com can help you convert your road bike to a time trial machine or set you up with a state-of-the-art triathlon bike by Elite Bicycles.
Q. How do I find the right position for me on my bike?
A. The right position can be found by knowing your bike fit measurements. To be fitted for a bike, it's best to go to a bike shop near you that specializes in fitting. Let them know what type of events you'll be competing in and they will be able to give you your measurements for a proper fit. It's important to know what size bike is ideal for you and to get to know bike lingo so that when you are measured, you can look up the specs of bikes and know what everything means. This chart (Click Here) shows the specs of Elite Bicycles and shows the angles and the names of each piece of the frame.
Q. I get a side stitch sometimes when I run. How do I prevent them and how do I get rid of them?
A. Many athletes have been plagued by the infamous side stitch in racing and in training, from the most seasoned pros down to amateurs. The best thing to do to prevent a side stitch is to make sure that you are properly hydrated before you start your run, and to stay hydrated while you're running. Make sure that you are drinking water or a sports drink with about a 7% carbohydrate solution. Another way side stitches can occur is if you ate too close to the beginning of your run and your body is trying to work on digesting your food. If you get a side stitch be sure to stretch it out by putting your hands over your head and expanding your diaphragm (practice deep breathing as well to stretch your diaphragm). It is important to know what works for you when starting your run and know what you can handle nutritionally before and during your runs. The best way to learn is through experimenting in training.
Q. When should I replace my running shoes?
A. Some experts say to replace your running shoes about every 500 miles or every 3-4 months. Another way to know is when you start to get little aches after your normal run that weren't there the week before.
Q. I have heard the term "bonking" or "bonk" used when people are talking about triathlon or in the some of the disciplines of triathlon. What is "bonking"?
A. "Bonking" or "Bonk" is the term used to describe the feeling of running out of energy. It's the point where your body has depleted its glycogen reserves and it feels like you absolutely have no energy or fuel in your body at all. Most triathletes have great "bonk" stories…just ask them. The best way to not bonk while you are training or racing is to eat often. Your body has about an hours worth of glycogen stored, its important to not deplete all of this reserve while training or racing cause once its gone, it will take a long time to restore your depleted tank. The best way to get in calories while training and racing is by drinking a sports drink or using energy gels or both. gazellesports.com has a wide variety of nutritional products.
Q. How often should I be eating and drinking while training?
A. An avg. person goes uses about 1.5 gallons or more a day just in normal bodily functions and respiration. Add exercise to this and your water usage and water loss goes up. It is recommended that during exercising you should be drinking around 4oz of water every 15 mins. A good rule of thumb that triathletes and other athletes use is to drink about one water bottle per hour of exercise and even more while racing. Hydration is not something you do just when you're thirsty. When your thirst mechanism kicks in its already too late, your body is dehydrated. Good hydration is something that needs to be practiced all day long, even when you are not thirsty. Hydrating for workouts and races doesn't begin moments before your endeavor, but should begin days before. If you are working out multiple times a day everyday, being hydrated needs to be a way of life. Being dehydrated causes your blood to thicken and makes your heart have to work harder to pump blood through your body; this will result in a higher heart rate and decreased exercise performance. Dehydration also causes muscle cramping, which can severely limit your athletic performance.
Eating During training and racing your body can be burning anywhere from 600-800 calories or more an hour. It is very important that while training and racing you fuel your body. Since your body only has about an hours worth of glycogen stored its very important to replace the fuel that is burning. The fastest way to do that is by getting the calories needed into the body with easily digestible sport drinks, gels, and bars. The body can absorb anywhere from 300-400 calories an hour or more depending on an individuals metabolism. Having a well balanced diet is a key to fueling the body properly as well as eating and drinking while performing exercise. Never go into a workout on an empty stomach…you're just asking to "bonk".
Q. I've heard that the body can only store about 1 hours worth of glycogen, how is it that I can continue to exercise for more than an hour and not feel depleted?
A. Depending on the amount of exertion one puts out while training and racing will depend on the fuel that is being burned by the body. If you were to eat or drink nothing and went as hard as you can for an hour, the fuel that the body would be burning would be glycogen, and this type of exertion would deplete those reserves. However, if you went at a moderate or comfortable pace for an hour and didn't eat or drink anything, the body would be using stored fat and glycogen as fuel, and you could go for more than hour and still have plenty of stored fat as fuel and glycogen in the reserves. Eating and drinking while exercising will add even more fuel to your body and keep you from dipping too far into the glycogen reserves. Professional athletes train their bodies to burn stored fat as a primary fuel instead of just glycogen. They do this by monitoring their heart rates through a heart rate monitor, and training in different heart rate zones to teach their bodies how to burn different ratios of fat/glycogen while training. By doing this daily they get to know exactly how their bodies react in different conditions and at different intensities and they learn how much fuel they need for their optimum performance. gazellesports.com offers heart rate monitors from Polar and Suunto…check them out here.
Q. I have heard of and seen pros using salt tablets and taping them to their bike…what are salt tablets for?
A. When money and pride are on the line for the top pros you can be sure that all big dogs will be going at it and giving it everything they have. Pros use salt tablets to keep their performance levels high in long hot races. While training and racing in hot conditions your body sweats profusely and loses a lot of sodium. Salt tablets help replace this sodium and help aid in the absorption of water. Too low of sodium in the body is called Hyponatremia. Symptoms of Hyponatremia include: muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, vomiting, disorientation and slurred speech. Ironman athletes are very susceptible to developing Hyponatremia in training and racing. Some people combat the sodium loss by taking in additional sodium while training and racing. In one study after an Ironman, a large number of finishers were found to be hyponatremic. Some athletes swear by their salt tablets in helping them combat dehydration, and Hyponatremia. If you are unsure or have questions about salt tablets, consult your doctor.