While there is nothing wrong with training for the sake of health, fitness, weight loss, or appearance, something quite magical happens when you train for a sports event. Instead of just going through the motions, each and every workout has a purpose, taking you one small step closer to your big day.

 

There are lots of sports you can train for that will give your workouts a greater purpose, but one of the best choices you could make is to try a triathlon.


See Also >> High Intensity Track Workout 

 

What is a triathlon?

 



Triathlon is not a new sport, and has featured in several Olympics. At one point, it was the fastest growing mass participation sport in the world. From its humble beginnings, triathlon has grown and grown, becoming an extremely popular pastime.

 

Triathlon involves swimming, cycling, and running – usually in that order. Each stage is linked by a transition that is also included in your overall time. There are lots of different types of triathlon including races that have mountain biking stages, where the swim is replaced by kayaking, and where the runs are cross country rather than on roads. All of that variety means you have plenty of options available.

 

Distance wise, the biggest and baddest triathlons are the Ironman events. These beastly races involve:

 

  • - A 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim


  • - A 112-mile (180.25 km) cycle


  • - A marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run

 

The top athletes complete their races in eight hours or less, whereas mere mortals are happy to finish the same day they started!

 

While you COULD train for an Ironman race, most people will find the standard Olympic distance challenging enough. With 4-6 months’ training, this is within most regular exerciser’s grasp. Olympic distance triathlons involve the following distances:  

 

  • - 1.5 km swim


  • - 40 km cycle


  • - 10 km run

 

Why should you give it a go?

 

 


Triathlon is a very accessible sport. Races are widespread and regular, and it doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are; it’s guaranteed that you’ll be taking part alongside others who are equally inexperienced.

 

While you will need a bike, you’ve probably got everything else you need to take on an tri, and while some people will buy every bell and whistle they can lay their hands on, it doesn’t matter if you don’t spend thousands of dollars on your gear, especially when you are starting out.

 

Many races offer training camps and coaching groups for new participants so you should have no trouble getting plenty of help and advice on training and racing.

 

Triathlon benefits

 


Training for a triathlon will:

 

  1. 1. Get you lean – swimming, cycling, and running frequently are going to burn a whole lot of calories, and that means if you eat clean, you will lose fat. If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, triathlon training will definitely help.

  2. 2. You’ll get super-fit – most of your training will be aerobic in nature, and that’s going to boost your fitness. If you have ever wanted to know how it feels to be very fit, triathlon training will get you there.

  3. 3. Training variety – because you’ll be training for three sports at the same time, you should not experience much in the way of workout boredom. Three sports plus a few different workout types such as steady state, fartlek, and interval training, means your workouts should always be fresh and interesting.

  4. 4. Cross training for fewer injuries – if all you do is run, you are quite likely to develop overuse injuries. Running, as a high-impact activity, puts a lot of stress on your joints. However, because you’ll be swimming and cycling too, that stress is spread throughout your body, and you should experience fewer injuries than if you just ran.

  5. 5. Full-body exercise – while running and cycling are undeniably lower body activities, swimming involves all your major muscle groups. While triathletes are not really interested in how they look, it’s a fact that most triathletes carry a reasonable amount of muscle, especially when compared to people who just run. If you don’t want to look like a skinny runner, but still want to try your hand at an endurance sport, triathlon is for you.

 

Training for a triathlon

 



With three sports to train for, triathlon training can sometimes seem like a big undertaking. Back in the “old days,” triathletes trained like swimmers, trained like cyclists, and trained like runners – often replicating the mileage clocked up by single sports specialists. Nowadays, triathletes train like triathletes which is much better! There is, after all, a big crossover from one sport to the next.

 

You still, however, need to train for each sport twice or more per week. How you arrange your training is up to you but common sense suggests that a long run the day after a hard cycle is not a good idea, and that swimming, being easier on your body, is a good training option to bridge the gap between hard workouts.

 

Here’s an example training program for a novice triathlete. Adjust the distances to suit your current fitness level and remember that, like strength training, you need to increase workload week by week to continually improve your fitness.

 

 


*Where two sports are listed, they should be done back-to-back. This extends the training session, provides the opportunity to practice your transitions, and will help you get used to how it feels to move from one activity to another. Running after cycling is, to put it mildly, interesting!

 

If you are looking for a new way to challenge your fitness, you could do a lot worse than try a triathlon. You don’t have to go full Ironman but, after a few Olympic distance events, don’t be surprised if that’s what you start dreaming about!  


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