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Triathlon - Things A Beginner Needs to Know

Lulu Moon

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This is collection of the answers to those pesky questions like;

1 What are the different Triathlon races and what are the distances?

2 What if I need to use the restroom on the bike / run leg?

3 Drafting? What is it? Can I do it?

4 Do I need a special Triathlon bike?

5 How to drink out of a paper cup while running?

Triathlon distances (and a few useful measures)

There are a couple of standard tri distances, however races often vary the distances

Sprint 0.75 k swim : 22k bike : 5k run

Olympic 1.5k swim : 40k bike : 10k run

Half-Ironman 1.2 mile swim : 56 mile bike : 13.1 mile run

Ironman 2.4 mile swim : 112 mile bike : 26.2 miles run (yes, that is a marathon)

1 k = 1000 meters = 0.62 miles 1 mile = 1600 meters (1.6 km)

What if I need to use the restroom on the bike / run leg?

It's very important to drink enough and remain properly hydrated. In a sprint distance tri you might not have to cope with this, but in longer races you may have to.

1) Find a bush! If you are reading a page for Tri beginners you probably are not about to win a race anyway and can spare the 1-2 minutes.

2) Stop at the Port-a-Potties

3) for Men only:

Rule 1: Make sure you're safe from legal repercussions. Urinating in public may violate indecent exposure, public nuisance, and disorderly conduct laws. In some states, you can become a sex offender for urinating in public. You don't want to have to knock on your neighbors’ doors and notify them of your status. It's awkward.

Rule 2: Make sure you're riding on a slight decline. If you’re going too fast, you don't want to lose control of your bike. If you’re going too slow, you don’t want to have to pedal midstream. You might as well just stop and get off your bike.

Rule 3: Learn the proper technique. Extend one leg and rotate the opposite hip towards the extended leg. Free your member from the top or bottom of the shorts, and let it flow. Tap as necessary.

Drafting, What is it? Can I do it?

Drafting refers to a riding technique where one cyclist rides behind another - sometimes directly behind them, sometimes behind them and a little bit off to the side - using the front cyclist as a windbreak. It helps reduce air resistance, meaning that the person riding in back doesn't have to work as hard. The low pressure pulls you forward, while the wake pushes you along.

Most US races do not allow drafting. Both people involved in drafting (on the bike) can get disqualified. Note the "on the bike" part, because perfectly legal to draft in the swim .

Do I need a special Triathlon bike?

If you are a beginner, definitely no. I've seen people race on mountain bikes. It might be a good idea to put slick tires on that mountain bike, though. What's the reason that people spend so much money for the lightest, fastest, coolest bike? Look at distances in a triathlon and estimate how long it will take you to finish each of the three legs. The bike leg typically makes up more than half of the race (time wise). So if you can get a gadget that speeds you up 10% for one of your three legs. . . which leg would you choose? 10% of a 10 minute swim would be 1 minute saved. 10% of a 25 minute run = 2.5 minutes, 10% of a 60 minute bike leg = 6 minutes. The choice is clear. There is another reason: time trial bikes are built slightly different than normal road bikes. For example the seat stem is a bit more vertical, which moves the saddle forward. This helps you transition from the bike to the run. Typically the start of the run is difficult in a triathlon (your legs feel like rubber and/or tend to cramp). The forward seat position shifts the work on the bike to slightly different muscles, which helps a bit.

How to drink out of a paper cup while running

There is a trick to it. When you run up to the aid station make eye contact with the volunteer handing you the cup. Grab for it from the top - do not try to grab it sideways. Right when you have the cup, squeeze the top together a bit. That gives you an oblong opening. Water won't splash out of that easily. Drink from one end of that opening. You can run full speed without spilling any water.

and Watch those nipples. . .

What I mean is: your own! And this is a tip for men and women! Long distance runners sometimes put a band-aid over their nipples, or they use a products such as nip-guard, bag balm, or body glide. During a long run, the fabric of the shirt , singlet or jersey rubs this sensitive spot so much that it becomes seriously unbearable. And not in a pleasing way - it simply hurts.

Check out the Active Peak web site for answers to the following questions and more.

Should I use CO2 Cartridges?

What size Wheels are the best?

Do I need a wetsuit ? What kind of Wetsuit do I need?

What about Heart Rate Monitors?

Lulu has coached and trained triathletes for over 5 years. She currently holds USA Triathlon Level 2 accreditation. Lulu is an Ironman and has finished more than 40 triathlons and marathons. To read more Lulu's Triathlon articles visit on line where Lulu is one of the coaches.


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