What is a triathlon? The ultimate beginner’s guide to swim/bike/run – Beginner Triathlon

You may have heard good friends conversing about it, you may have caught a glimpse of an remarkable spectacle at the Tokyo Olympics, and you are looking for your subsequent obstacle, but what is a triathlon?

Worry not, we have you included with an in-depth guidebook to a unique sport which combines three extremely distinct disciplines.

Our goal is to put the know-how in your hands and give you plenty of information to start your triathlon journey.

Swim, bicycle and operate

In its easiest sort, a triathlon begins with a swim, which is then followed by a bicycle journey and is completed off with a run (or jog/wander, relying on how the race plays out for you!).

There are various varieties of multi-sport activities (these as duathlon, aquathlon, pentathlon), and even triathlons can fluctuate tremendously in phrases of distance and options or ailments (see down below).

However, a triathlon occasion is classically a swim, bike, and run, and in that distinct buy.

What is transition?

To learn triathlon there is a important fourth self-discipline, where by time can be gained or misplaced. It’s referred to as transition and there are two in each individual race – T1 and T2.

T1: Following the swim we occur to the first changeover, regarded as T1. You exit the swim and transfer as quickly as attainable to mounting your bicycle and setting up the 2nd phase of a triathlon. It’s a great idea to practise all the things putting on your helmet and functioning or going for walks with your bike – practically every next counts.

It is also well worth investing time in advance of the start out of the race checking exactly where your bike is positioned in relation to wherever you enter T1 soon after the swim.

T2: After the bike leg there is yet another changeover called T2.  In this article you have to have to dismount your bicycle and set off on your run. It is vital in this article to make confident you are not heading as well rapid to safely and securely get off your bike. Once more, check out out in progress the place you need to have to rack your bicycle and the fastest route to the exit.

The size of the transitions in a triathlon fluctuate from race to race. The only genuine continual is that with exercise you can save a ton of time, probably minutes, and increase your in general finishing time and placement.

Triathlon distances

There are many distinctive distances for triathlon – with the most well-known getting Ironman. But how prolonged is an Ironman and how prolonged are the other distances? Again, we have you covered.

An Ironman triathlon is the complete distance for the activity and a very gruelling check. It is a 2.4-mile (3.8km) swim, a 112-mile (180k) bicycle and then a literal marathon (26.2miles or 42.2km) to end. Full length 140.6miles or 226km. A 50 %-distance triathlon is held above 70.3 miles or 113km.

An Olympic length triathlon (like the kinds you may possibly have watched in Tokyo in 2021) is held over a 1500m swim, a 40km bike and a 10km run. Olympic distance is also acknowledged as the typical length for triathlon.

There are other distance selections for triathlon – likely even shorter than that Olympic length down to dash races. In essence there are tons of techniques you can get began in the sport without having diving in at the deep stop in an Ironman race.

There are a amount of famed organisations which phase triathlon races – headed by IRONMAN (the enterprise not the distance!). IRONMAN retains races in excess of full length, the 70.3 half distance and also some at Olympic distance.

IRONMAN stages races all all around the earth all 12 months spherical, with athletes desperate to cross the complete line a single working day to listen to the immortal words and phrases “You are an Ironman”.

The Obstacle Loved ones in the meantime has a portfolio of internationally acclaimed full and center-length races. In addition, and frequently with much cheaper race entry expenses, there are many community races hosted by triathlon clubs or more compact race organisers.

As with most issues in lifetime, it is value starting little and building up in phrases of triathlon distances. We’d advise getting someplace area to get your toes damp, and establish up from there.

Getting started out in triathlon

There is a triathlon for all people. Depending on your strengths and sporting qualifications, along with your hunger for a obstacle, distinct race distances and circumstances could enchantment to you.

There are a selection of race listing means globally. In the British isles, the British Triathlon internet site is a superior starting up level, which will feature all of the functions registered with the nationwide governing physique. British Triathlon also supports GO TRI, a resource for people today who are incredibly new to the activity.

Another wonderful way to get started off in triathlon is to join a triathlon club. It’s worth checking to see if you have just one locally. Much less complicated when items are shut by.

Several triathlon golf equipment cater for newcomers by way of to expert triathletes. You will be surrounded by like-minded folks who are ready to share their ordeals and advice.

In particular, having aspect in coached swim classes can be quite valuable for newbies and, bicycle and operate classes with other men and women can really push you forward.

How significantly does it charge to do a triathlon?

There is no one particular straightforward solution to this concern. It is dependent on the race and the length.

The expenditures can be complicated but there are quite a few very affordable alternatives if you do your research (see above).

There is normally a direct romance among a race’s entry costs and the dimension of the event, the duration of the race, the picturesque mother nature of the site, the celebration publicity, and the ‘free’ goodies (for instance, baggage and T-shirts).

IRONMAN-branded gatherings are the leading finish of the scale and entry costs can be much more than £500 or $700. You are in aspect paying out for the expertise of an iconic race location, participating in a big occasion, and the option to be advised ‘you are an IRONMAN’.

In distinction, there are many races with decrease service fees which have gained actually favourable critiques, for case in point the Outlaw-branded races in the British isles.

The Castle Collection events have been functioning for far more than 10 several years, and they try out to develop a competition environment. For illustration, at Hever Castle (in Kent, British isles) in addition to grownup races throughout different distances there are many youth races, accompanied by dwell tunes, meals vans, and other enjoyment. The value is c. £100 for Olympic length.

At the opposite stop of the scale to IRONMAN, there are way less expensive races which are nonetheless really perfectly organised. These can charge as minimal as £10 or $15 to enter.

What kit or equipment do I need to have for triathlon?

If you like tech, triathlon is the present that keeps providing. Even so, it is feasible to acquire part in triathlon without breaking the lender. Try to remember that entry expenses are not your only value.

To race you will need the next package as a bare bare minimum:


  • Swim cap, frequently provided by the organiser
  • Swim goggles
  • Swimsuit or trisuit

If the race is in open up h2o, you are going to also want a wetsuit – however you can employ the service of just one if you really don’t extravagant obtaining a person however.


  • Shorts and a major – can be standard shorts and T-shirt or bike shorts and a jersey
  • Helmet
  • Bike
  • Cycling or triathlon sneakers – you can just use trainers
  • Socks


  • If not carrying a tri-go well with, you may want to alter into a new prime and shorts.
  • Trainers

Race figures for the bike and run are ordinarily supplied by the race organiser.

Coping with the disorders

A very important element when figuring out what triathlon to do, in addition to the distances, is the race’s terrain and situations.

The Swim: The triathlon swim can be in a pool or open drinking water – large big difference.

A swimming pool-centered triathlon can be a fantastic position to begin if you are not especially confident in the water. Similarly, they are a great choice if you are looking to contend at the start off or end of the season when open up-h2o functions would be as well chilly.

Pool-dependent swims are usually 400m in length, but can be shorter or lengthier, and the duration of the pool will change from function to event. Swimmers normally set off independently at timed intervals, but how the swim is navigated may differ (for example, moving from lane to lane in a zig-zag design and style or completing the swim in just one designated lane).

You may really feel of training course that the actual challenge is in open-h2o swimming. Open-h2o swims can be held in a lake, river, or the sea. A lake swim is probably to be calmer than a river or sea swim, in which you naturally have to contend with waves and the recent.

Open up-water swims commonly have mass starts off, damaged up into waves (at larger activities, it is not uncommon for a wave to incorporate around 100 athletes).

The Bike: The vast vast majority of triathlons are non-drafting and held on open streets with visitors. Nonetheless, shut circuits (racetracks) are turning out to be extra well known.

Triathlons can also have off-street bicycle sections, which will ordinarily need the use of a mountain bicycle (British Triathlon’s competitors procedures only allow mountain bikes for cross triathlon). Events with off-highway bicycle sections are normally referred to as ‘cross triathlon’.

XTERRA is the principal international series of cross triathlon and, somewhat than street using and operating, has off-road mountain biking and trail running.

The Operate: Comparable to the bike alternatives, a operate can be on the road, off-road, or frequently a little bit of both equally. Your decision of footwear will count on the terrain. Importantly, a 10k operate on a flat street may well be substantially much less taxing than a 10k on an undulating and uneven off-highway route.

What are the procedures for triathlon?

All athletics have a rulebook, and triathlon is no distinctive.

Below are a couple of the most vital ones if you’re a starter:

  • On arriving at the race your bike will be inspected (as properly as a examine that your helmet suits appropriately). The bike ought to be roadworthy and protected. Of specific notice, your handlebars will have to have bar ends/plugs in place.
  • Buoyancy aids are not permitted in the swim. In races where by wetsuits are not worn, during the swim apparel is not permitted under the knee. This means that if you desire to use calf guards these will need to have to be put on immediately after the swim.
  • A bike helmet is required. In T1 you will have to set your helmet on (and fasten it) before you get rid of your bicycle from the rack. In T2 you ought to have re-racked your bicycle right before you consider off your helmet.
  • On exiting T1, you should not mount or get on your bike until eventually you have handed the mount line – most usually this is a line drawn on the highway with marshals intently monitoring the line has been crossed. In the same way, on returning to changeover you should dismount your bike ahead of crossing the dismount line.
  • Based on the race you enter, the bike leg will be either non-drafting or draft-authorized. So what is drafting? In essence it’s driving close powering any person else which will then give you an edge many thanks to the natural tow it offers you. So if your race is non-drafting, which is what you totally cannot do. If you do, you could get a time penalty or even be disqualified.
  • On the bike, when using on open streets, you should comply with the regulations of the road, which include not crossing the white-line on to the reverse side of the street.
  • Not like many running races, headphones are not permitted to be utilized throughout any element of a triathlon.

How did triathlon start off?

For lots of, the attraction of triathlon is the selection and the problem of mastering a few sporting activities – using on just one basically is not ample! It may perhaps not be a shock consequently that an athletics club retains the accolade of kick-commencing triathlon as we know it.

Modern-day triathlon emerged in the early 1970s, especially on 25 September 1974 at an event hosted by the San Diego Monitor Club. The celebration was intended to act as an alternative to tough monitor exercise sessions and comprised a overall of 6 miles of managing, 5 miles of biking, and 500 yards of swimming. Forty-6 people today took element and the organisers used vehicle headlights to assistance immediate those people finishing following sunset.

Shortly afterwards, Judy and John Collins (who had raced in the San Diego Keep track of Club’s function and experienced moved to Hawaii from California in 1975) were pivotal in organising the 1st Hawaiian IRONMAN Triathlon on 18 February 1978.  Ironman racing was born.

Triathlon’s level of popularity elevated exponentially around the following several years.  The International Triathlon Union (ITU) was launched in Avignon, France, in 1989 and in that very same year the ITU’s very first official earth championships were held. The typical Olympic distance was based mostly on existing Olympic distances for personal sports, namely 1500m swim, 40km bike, and a 10k operate.

Triathlon landed in the mainstream with its debut at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The results of the Brownlee brothers at London 2012 took things to a new stage in the United kingdom.