Today we wish to talk about those fantastic young athletes practising triathlon and of whom we often envy the well-sculpted body and muscles.
Let's begin by saying that it is not a sport accessible to everyone. I know, it is sad to stop dreaming before even beginning to dream, but it is the right thing to do to face the reality of the facts.
Those who practice triathlon must have, first of all, time. It is a very important element and necessary to practice this sport. The triathlon is a multidisciplinary activity where swimming, cycling and running are carried out. Three disciplines in a single race!
As it is easy to imagine, in order to have the performance and adequate training to participate, time must be devoted to each activity, and it is not so easy to find it between family, work and a thousand other commitments of the everyday life. Consider this: to train for an Olympic triathlon, athletes need at least 6-7 months.
Moreover, the activities involved are endurance sports, so they are not short activities, so the time necessary is a lot, at least a few hours per session.
This multi-disciplinary aspect is also very difficult to manage from a mindset point of view: it is not easy to stay focused all the time and then motivated, but in a triathlon you must be, as the specific training sessions for each activity are shorter compared to those who practice the single individual sports, so you must maximise the time in order make training worthwhile.
At the same time, it is also an aspect of the sport that many athletes appreciate because it allows them to vary the workouts, breaking the monotony that can often affect the athlete that assiduously practices a sport.
However, training for a triathlon competition must include also a combination of sessions, which means that the athlete trains for two disciplines on the same day. This is a fundamental and a mandatory element in order to simulate a condition that will then be the one the athlete will have to face in the real race.
HOW DOES A TRIATHLON RACE WORK?
The participants must compete with each other in the three disciplines, without any interruption.
It begins with swimming, where after a short run you dive into the water and you start the challenge with the sound of splashing feet, kicks and lots of confusion.
Indeed, this is what happens at the start of the race when all the competitors are close to each other. Do not be discouraged, with experience you can organize yourself and choose the best trajectories based on your pace and your preferences. A hint: if you want to struggle less, we recommend staying behind the swimmer ahead of you with a maximum distance of 50 cm.
Careful where you swim: the lake or sea are not the pool, the visibility is different (or even none in the lakes), you must swim keeping an eye out for the buoys to know where to turn and what path to follow, and the water is stirred by the other competitors. In short, swimming in the pool when you train is not the same thing.
In the "classic" triathlon (meaning, the Olympic one), the distance to be covered by swimming is 1,500 meters.
At the end of the first session, it is time to switch to cycling, so after rushing out of the water you take off your wetsuit (often used, if allowed, also because it guarantees better flotation and therefore greater speed) and you take the bicycle. Make sure to follow the rules: you cannot get on the bicycle in the area of change, but you have to wait for the marked dividing line. Once you get on, shoes, helmet, mineral salts and gel or energy bars and you must get going at full speed.
If you can find a group to join as you bike, you can gain an advantage by using air trails and saving valuable energy (when it is allowed by the regulation).
The "traditional" distance by bicycle is 40km.
At the end, the last challenge is the running. You leave your bicycle, change your shoes and leave.
In the traditional version, the running goes on for 10km until the finish line.
These are the general dynamics, which do not change from race to race. What may change are the distances, that in the last few years led to races that were shorter in length but the terrain was not flat, or where instead of a racing bicycle, a mountain bike was used.
Here is a brief summary of the types of triathlon races:
- Super Long 3.8 km swimming - 180 km cycling - 42,195 km running
- Long: 4 km swimming - 120 km cycling - 30 km running
- Medium: 1.9 km swimming - 90 km cycling - 21 km running
- Olympic: 1.5 km swimming - 40 km cycling - 10 km running
- Sprint: 750 meters swimming - 20 km cycling - 5 km running
- Super Sprint: 400 meters swimming - 10 km cycling - 2.5 km running
These are the most common triathlon distances covered.
WHAT SUPPLEMENTS WE RECOMMEND
Given the multidiscipline aspect and the duration of the competition, it is important to have fit muscles, for which proteins are certainly recommended during the preparation and recovery period. Mineral salts, Energy gels and Energy bars instead should not be missing from the training or the race.