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You Know You Want to Tri It

T2T Social Creative Instagram Female SwimIt might sound hard core, but if you know how to swim, can ride a bike and can run, even casually, then completing a triathlon is totally within your grasp. The sport is incredibly beginner-friendly, welcoming and utterly rewarding.

The modern triathlon is almost 43 years old, with its first organized event taking place in 1974 at Mission Bay in San Diego, California. There were a total of 46 participants who paid the $1 entry fee. Prices may have gone up, but nowadays, you can find triathlon events in every state, and almost every country, at almost any distance. Most everyone chooses to start with a sprint, super sprint or relay triathlon, where distances for each segment are short.

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Distances and Discipline

Go Short or Long  T2T Social Creative Instagram Female Bike

There really is a triathlon for everyone. You’ll see four main distances, along with a ton of variations. For instance, super sprints are even shorter and are gaining in popularity.

There is no rhyme or reason to why some distances are expressed in miles and others in kilometers or meters. Call it a crazy melting pot of imperial and metric!

Here are the most popular event distances.

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Race Day Tips

How It All Works on Race Day

T2T Social Creative Instagram Male RunTriathlon involves a fair amount of logistics, planning and packing, but most race organizers do their best to make things as simple and smooth as possible.

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Set Up for Success

Practice and Learn!

T2T Social Creative Instagram Male SwimDo some open water swim practice. It’s very different from pool swimming, and new triathletes often have anxiety about the swim.

Practice transitions. Check out YouTube for tips and changing to each segment seamlessly. Time spent in transition counts as part of your total race time.

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Triathlon Lingo

From Aerobars to Wetsuits

T2T Social Creative Instagram Male BikeAerobars: These special handlebars extend out from your bike and give you a place to rest your elbows. They offer a more aerodynamic, tucked position than can help you achieve faster bike times.

Age-grouper: Amateur athletes are called age-group athletes, competing with others in 5-year age and gender groups. Race age is determined by one’s age on Dec. 31 of the race year.

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Training for Your First Triathlon

Coach Ken's presentation at the United Hospital System, Physical Therapy & Athletic Training Rehabilitation, X*CEL Performance Educational Series.

Read more: Tri101: Training for Your First Triathlon

An Overview of Multisport Disciplines

Swim, bike, run. Triathlon has several racing distances, from the short youth events up to ultra-distance events. Common race distances are the Sprint, International. Half Ironman® or 70.3, and Ironman® or 140.6. Although distances of each leg can vary, traditionally:
  • Sprint = 1/2 mile swim, 7-9 mile bike, 5K run
  • International = .9 mile swim, 15-20 mile bike, 10K run
  • Half Ironman® or 70.3 = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile/half marathon run
  • Ironman® or 140.6 = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile/marathon run

Since "Ironman" is a registered trademark, these races are now know by their distance in kilometers, 70.3 for the half and 140.6 for the full. Also, the "International" distance is sometimes called the "Olympic" distance, since that is the event distance in the Olympics. But since "Olympic" is also a trademark, it cannot be used outside of the Olympic games environment.

Read more: An Overview of Multisport Disciplines