Want to Become A Triathlete? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!

Looking for a new challenge? Try a triathlon, which incorporates swimming, cycling, and running – all in one place. With millions of participants worldwide, triathlons are more about personal goals than competition. 

What’s a Triathlon? The Basics

By definition, a triathlon is a multisport race which incorporates three continuous and sequential endurance races. The word ‘triathlon’ has a Greek origin – treis or τρεῖς (three) and athlos or ἆθλος (competition). 

Variations of the sport exist, but the most common form includes swimming, cycling, and running over various distances. A transition area is set up where the triathletes change gear for different sections of the race – this is where the switches from swimming to cycling to running occur. These areas are used to store sports apparel, bicycles, and any other accessories required for the next stage of the race. The transition from swimming to cycling is referred to as ‘T1’ and the transition from cycling to running is referred to as ‘T2’. 

The triathlete’s overall time for the race includes time spent in T1 and T2. 

Triathlete Meaning –  Essentially, a triathlete is someone who participates in a triathlon.

Race Organization

Generally, participation in a triathlon requires a triathlete to register and sign up in advance of the actual race. After registration, racers are often provided a colored swim cap, a race number, and, if the event is being time electronically, a timing band. Triathletes will either be briefed on the rules, details of the course, and any issues to watch out for (closures, aid stations, road conditions, traffic lights, etc.) 

At a major event, such as a long course championship or Ironman, triathletes may be required to check-in and set up their bike in the transition area a day or two before the actual race, leaving it overnight and under guard. 

On the day of the actual race, before the competition beings, triathletes will normally be provided with a bike rack to hold their bicycle and a small section of ground space for clothing, shoes, and other sports accessories in the transition area. In some triathlons, athletes are provided with two transition areas – one for the swim/cycling change, and another for the cycling/running change at a different location. 

Generally, triathletes are categorized into separate amateur and professional categories. Amateurs make up the large majority of triathletes and are usually referred to as ‘age groupers’ since they are usually further classified by age and gender; this provides the opportunity to compete against others of one’s own age group and gender. 

Triathlon Rules

Specific rules for triathlons can differ depending on the governing body, as well as for individual race venues. However, there are some basic universal rules. 

Traditionally, a triathlon is an individual sport – each triathlete is competing against the course and the clock for the best time. As such, triathletes are not allowed to receive help from anyone else outside the competition, with the exemption of race-sanctioned aid volunteers who distribute water and food on the course. 

Listed below are some general triathlon rules that you should keep in mind.

  • Competitors must follow the instructions set by the Race Officials and Marshals without question.
  • Competitors must follow the prescribed course and stay within all coned lanes.
  • Competitors must have their race number pinned on and visible and their numbers on their helmet and bike.
  • Competitors must have their helmet on and strapped before mounting their bike.
  • Competitors must walk or run in the transition area – no riding is allowed until competitors reach the mount line.
  • Competitors must not follow the biker in front of them too closely – they must be at least two bike lengths behind them.
  • Competitors must rack their bike properly and respect their fellow competitors’ equipment.
  • Competitors must not wear headphones while cycling – they must be aware and alert, and must know the course.
  • Competitors must wear their timing chip (if it’s provided) throughout the race. After crossing the finish line, they must hand it over to a race official to receive an official time.
  • competitors must refrain from using harsh, abusive, argumentative, or foul language or other unsportsmanlike behavior directed at triathlon officials, volunteers, race officials, fellow athletes, or spectators.

How to Be a Triathlete

Now that you’ve got some idea about what a triathlon is, here’s how you can become a triathlete! Listed below are some essential triathlon tips for beginners. 

  • Train according to your distance racers. Swimming typically constitutes 10-20% of a race, cycling 40-50% of the race, and running 20-30% of the race. When you’re training, make sure to keep this in mind and train accordingly. Also, consider the type of race you’re participating in. What kind of water will you be swimming in? Are you cycling or running on hills? What kind of terrain? If you can train in similar states, the actual race will be a lot less surprising. 
  • Choose what kind of race you want to participate in. Triathlons are not created equal. There are different types based on distance: sprint triathlons, the Olympic triathlon, the half Ironman, and the Ironman triathlon. 
  • Sprint Triathlons. The shortest Sprint Triathlons vary in specific length, but typically they have around 0.8km swim, 24km bike ride, and 5km run.
  • Olympic Triathlon. The Olympic triathlon is the most common type out there. It involves a 1.5km swim, a 40km cycling route, and a 10km run. 
  • Half Ironman. A Half Ironman Triathlon involves a 1.93km swim, a 90km bike ride, and a 21km run. 
  • Ironman Triathlon. Ironman Triathlons are probably the most famous. It involves a 3.9km swim, 180km bike ride, and a 42.2km marathon. 
  • Register and sign up. There are several websites that you can use to search for and register for triathlons, including Triathlete.com, Trisports.ph, TriFind.com, and Active.com – just to name a few. 

Before you register for a race, make sure to check the race details – you can usually find it on the triathlon’s website. For instance, is the race flat or hilly? Is the swim in the sea, lake, or pool? If you’re a new swimmer, you might want to choose a body of water that’s easier to swim in. Also, some triathlons are off-road, which may be appealing to you if you like mountain biking, rather than cycling on a paved road. 

  • Get the right gear and equipment. To do well in a triathlon, you need to get the right gear and equipment. Below is a list of equipment that you’ll need:
  • Swimming cap, goggles, and swim suit. If you’ll be swimming in cold water, consider getting a wetsuit – a wetsuit will help keep you warm in cold temperatures. Note that using a wetsuit may hinder your swimming stroke or range of motion. If you’re using a wetsuit, practice in it ahead of time.
  • A cycling helmet that fits you well and a high-quality bicycle. Mountain bikes, road bikes, and hybrids all work well. A time trial bike or a special triathlon bike isn’t always necessary, but if you have one, use it by all means.
  • A great pair of running shoes. Get a pair that fit your feet properly.
  • Sunglasses. This is very important for both the cycling and run stages – the right pair of triathlon sunglasses will do so much more than just keep the sun out of your eyes. Whether it will be insects, rain, or wind that are trying to find their way into your eyes, sunglasses will keep them clear and allow you to focus on racing. 
  • Listen to your body when you’re training. When you’re training for such an intensive competition, you need to carefully listen to what your body is telling you. This will help guarantee that you train safely and stay in good health. Below are some general tips to keep in mind.
  • Monitor your heart rate.
  • Don’t train if you have a fever or other symptoms of illness, such as chills or muscle pain.
  • Pay close attention to symptoms such as lightheadedness, chest pain, or shortness of breath. These can be indicative of heart issues. Stop training right away and see your doctor if you’re concerned.
  • If you’ve been sick, make sure that you return to training with reasonable expectations and patience until you’re fully well. 

Philippine Celebrity Triathletes

Looking for some fitspiration? Listed below are some Philippine celebrity triathletes who can be your source of motivation!

These are just some of the many Filipino celebrities who have participated triathlons in the country and abroad. 

If you’re prepared enough to join a triathlon, who knows – you might even bump into some of these celebs! 

Triathlete Supplements

Are you training for a triathlon and are looking for supplements you can take? Here are some that you should check out:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Fish Oil
  • Iron
  • Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements
  • Vitamin D
  • Whey Protein
  • Probiotics
  • Sodium Phosphate
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Beta Alanine
  • L-Carnitine

The Bottom Line

Participating in a triathlon may seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge, training, equipment, and supplements – plus inspiration from your favorite celeb – you’ll be able to do it!

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