Introduction to Triathlon

Introduction to Triathlon

  • What is Triathlon?

    Triathlon is swimming, cycling and running (in that order), all in one competition. The swim can either take place in a swimming pool or in an outdoor environment (e.g. a lake or river).

    The distances vary from very short to incredibly long.

    The common distances are:

    • Sprint - 500/750 meters swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running
    • Olympic - 1500 meters swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running
    • Half-distance (Ironman 70.3) - 1900 meters swimming, 90 km cycling and 21 km running
    • Full-distance (Ironman) - 3800 meters swimming, 180 km cycling and 42 km running

Who can do a triathlon ?

Anyone can do triathlon. If you can move, you can do triathlon.

Why do Triathlon?

Triathlon is a sport for anyone who like to move, likes a challenge, is not afraid of a little post exercise soreness and is willing to step out of their comfort zone with their body and mind. The range of disciplines and distances allows anyone to find one or more distances that fit.

  • Overall Full Body Fitness: Triathlons will strengthen all muscle groups in your body. Swimming strengthens your upper body while cycling and running helps you build lower body strength. You will develop lean muscles, build strength and tone your entire body. You will look and feel younger. Take a look at any triathlete over age 55 and you’ll see what I mean. These people are ambassadors of good health and body confidence.
  • Reducing the risk of injury: When you stick to just one sport – running, for example – you continue to stress the same body parts, resulting in common injuries like shin splints. With triathlon training, you are pushing yourself in three different sports, which each focus on different parts of your body, taking the constant stress off of one particular area. So, with a more balanced method of fitness, you can enjoy being injury-free for longer, resulting in less pain and a stronger body.
  • Variety: Training for 3 sports is much more interesting than just training for one.
  • You Will Be More Productive: Training for a triathlon will clear your mind and sharpen your focus. My most lucid and creative thoughts invariably arise during bike rides, after swims or while running. Also, planning for all the
  • Triathlon WILL make you better at time management: Training for 3 disciplines, nutrition and recovery is not easy. And managing this with professional commitment and family is challenging. If you’re smart, realistic with your goals and learn how to maximize your time, you’ll soon become a triathlon time management ninja!
  • You Will Build Rock-Solid Self-Confidence: To develop a strong confidence, I believe you must achieve something that deeply challenges you. Training for and finishing a triathlon is certainly a remarkable achievement and a powerful way to build self-confidence that will last a lifetime.

What is difference between Pro Triathlete and Age Groupers?

Triathlons are usually separated into different divisions for awards. Most commonly there are Pro/elite categories and Age Group Categories

The age group categories separate men and women into different groups. Each gender group is then separated by their age. Age groups are usually in 5 year sections. For example, women’s ages 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-45 … men’s ages 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-45….

Awards are often given to the top finishers overall for each gender and for the top 3 finishers in each age group division.

What are various Triathlon Organizations?

  • The International Triathlon Union (ITU) organises the World Triathlon Series and World Cup races each year, with annual world champions crowned each year for elite pro-triathletes, junior pro-triathletes, and age-group athletes. ITU races are conducted in a draft legal format for the bike leg, whereas drafting is not permitted at the amateur level. In addition, the ITU has a Long Distance Triathlon series.

  • The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is a private company that sanctions and organises the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races each year. These races serve as qualifying events for their own annual World Championships held annually in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October while the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is held in September and changes location each year. The “Ironman” and “Iron” brands are property of the WTC. Therefore, long-distance multi-sport events organized by groups other than the WTC may not officially be called “Ironman” or “Iron” races.

  • Many other organisations exist from local clubs hosting one 100 entrant race a year up to companies like the Challenge Family brand produces long-distance events around the world, and includes events like Challenge Roth.
  • International Ultra-Triathlon Association (IUTA) is the official governing body of Ultratriathlon, which involves triathlon in distances longer than an iron-distance race.

What do I need to get started


  • Goggles, preferably non fogging one

  • Swim cap

  • Swimming shorts

  • Swimming Pool (duh!)

    Additional - good to have

  • Swimming watch - to keep track of time and distance


  • Good fitting bike. You don’t need to throw too much money on the bike. I did my first few triathlons on an old hybrid bike

  • Bike Helmet

  • Bike padded shorts

    Additional - good to have

  • GPS Cycling computer (Phone can be used as replacement too)

  • Cycling Gloves

  • Clipless Pedals


  • Good quality running shoes

  • Running attire - depending on the weather

    Additional - good to have

  • GPS Watch

  • Fuel belt to carry water / nutrition

You do not need a ton of stuff to get started. Decathlon is usually a very cost effective place to pick the stuff. Get started with the basics, and one can always add on here.

In the next post, I will capture the triathlon gear I own.


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