I know a lot of people have asked me about this topic so I just talked to a bunch of people I know and helped put this great list together. Triathlons consist of three consecutive endurance activities. The most common forms are Sprint and Olympic/International distance events.Sprint distances vary by event but are typically 1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and a 5k. These are great for beginners and the swim can be in the pool or open water. Pool is an ideal option for beginner swimmers because it’s much safer. Olympic/International events are the next step up, typically consisting of longer distances: 1/2 mile open water swim, 25 miles on bike, 10k run). The events are typically larger as well and sometimes you’ll see the occasional pro. It’s important to distinguish that Sprints are all about the speed and Olympic distance events are both speed and endurance.
Triathletes are timed in each leg, and the person with the overall fastest time in all three events is declared the winner. Transition between each leg takes place in a staging area where athletes can obtain their gear for their next event. The time spent during the transition contributes to the athletes overall time in the triathlon. The races vary in distance for each leg. The most common leg distances for ultra-distance triathlons are: 2.4 miles for swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles of running. The most recognized ultra-distance triathlon is the Ironman Triathlon.
Triathlon participation involves lengthy training prior to the competition. Athletes must train for all three endurance activities and know how to manage their energy reserves to be able to transition smoothly between each leg. By the last leg, triathletes have already completed two other endurance activities, so they need to know how to continue on fatigued muscles. The following resources are provided to help athletes learn more about triathlons, find training plans, triathlon events, and triathlon organizations.
- USA Swimming – Tips and Training – Selected list of topics on swim training and tips.
- Guidelines for Beginner Swimmers – Triathlon swim training for beginners.
- Swim Smooth – Training for Swimming – Tips on how to maximize speed with threshold work.
- Training for Swimming – List of articles on varied topics concerning swim training.
- Swim Positioning and Its Influence on Triathlon Outcome – Article that analyzes the importance on swimming as one of the three legs of the triathlon.
- Swim – Your First Triathlon – Swimming is often the first leg of a triathlon and can often be the most challenging leg for beginners.
- Tips for Structuring a Swim Training Plan – Human Kinetics training plan guidelines for the novice swimmer.
- 100 Swimming Workouts – Swim workouts for beginning, intermediate, and advanced swimmers.
- Calculating Swimming TSS Score – Calculate the TSS score of a swim to understand the intensity of the workout.
- Swim Split – Online swim coaching resource for triathletes and swimmers.
- 12 Mile Cycling Training Plan – Eight week program to build cycling mileage up to twelve miles.
- Science of Cycling – An overview of which muscles are used during cycling and how the energy cost from cycling compares to other methods of transportation.
- Tips on Cycling in Time Trials and Triathlons – An article from Professor Jackson at Stanford University.
- Running Barefoot, Forefoot Striking, and Training Tips – A Harvard University article on how to properly run barefoot or in minimal footwear.
- Starting a Running Program – University of Delaware Professor John Mackenzie’s guide to beginning a running program.
- Maximizing Running Performance and Marathon Training – Do and Don’t of how to increase running performance.
- Common Training Mistakes for Runners – Article about how to avoid common running injuries from training mistakes.
- Run Injury Free with Jeff Galloway – Training plans for beginner runners.
- 5k Run: 7 Week Training Schedule for Beginners – Mayo Clinic’s 5k training schedule.
- Cool Running – Running tips and events.
- Basic Stretching and Strengthening Exercises for Runners – Select Physical Therapy’s list of exercises and stretches with pictures for training.
- Best Treadmills for Triathletes – Our list of the top treadmills for serious runners.
- Best Treadmills (Full List) – Our list of a variety of treadmill types and price points, many of which are perfect for trialthletes.
General Triathlon Resources
- Triathlon FAQs – Oregon State University Triathlon Club’s common questions and answers about triathlons and triathlon training.
- Triathlon – Princeton University’s guide to the triathlon.
- Training for a Triathlon – Des Moines University Clinic’ s training tips for bicycling, swimming, and running.
- Beginner Triathlete – Articles, training plans, race listings, and much more information for the beginning triathlete.
- Tri-Newbies – Excellent information and help for new triathletes.
- International Triathlon Union – The official triathlon resource for athletes.
- USA Triathlon – USA triathlon news, event listings, and resources for athletes.
- International Ultra Triathlon Association – IUTA is the governing body for international ultra-triathlons.
- Story of the First Triathlon – A quick history of the first triathlon.