What is a Tri?

“Tri” — the nickname for triathlon — is a sport comprised of swimming, biking and running (almost always in that order). Triathletes start by swimming in a body of water (such as a lake, river, pool or the ocean) along a marked path. At the end of the swim, they run out of the water to the transition area (known as transition one, or T1), where their bike and other gear is set up to help them easily prepare for the cycling part of the race.

Leaving the transition area, athletes mount their bikes and ride along a set course that usually finishes back in the same transition area, where they dismount and prepare for the run (known as transition two, or T2). They leave the area and run along a set course that ends at the finish line. A triathlon finishing time will include the time it took the athlete to swim the course, transition to the bike, ride the bike course, transition to the run, and complete the run course. Triathletes train to improve in all five segments of the race (swim, T1, bike, T2, and run) in order to get faster overall finishing times.

How long is a Tri?

Triathlon races come in four standard distances:

While the distances might suggest that some races are easier than others, that’s not necessarily the case. Many factors can play into how hard or easy a race is, including:

  • Climate (temperature, humidity, wind, etc.)
  • Terrain (is the course flat or hilly? Is the water rough or smooth?)
  • Ability (more experienced athletes may approach shorter races with more intensity, whereas beginner athletes may use the shorter races as a way to test out the sport in a more manageable way).

How much training do I need?

For the average person working out 2-3 times per week (in fitness classes, doing short runs, or just generally leading an active lifestyle), We suggest planning on the following timeframes to appropriately prepare:

 SPRINT  3 Start around 3 hours and build up to around 6
 OLYMPIC  3 Start around 4 hours and build up to around 8
IRONMAN 70.3 / HALF IRONMAN  5 – 6 Start around 6 hours and build up to around 12
IRONMAN / FULL IRONMAN  9 – 12 Start around 8 hours and build up to around 15 to 20

While this table provides a basic timeline for training, it’s important to note that each athlete is different when it comes to experience, ability and scheduling. We believe this is where a coach can be helpful. “All of the above recommendations allow for proper recovery and adaptation, but coaching is important to avoid burn out and injury, thus allowing the athlete to perform at their best ability on race day.”


One of the biggest myths about triathlon is that you have to have all the fancy gear to do it. When it comes down to the very basics, it doesn’t take much to get started.


Go Basic: Find a pair of goggles that fits well and doesn’t leak, and a swim suit that makes you feel good.

Get Fancy: Time for the speed suits and wetsuits. Both are designed to give you an “edge” as a swimmer, either making you more buoyant, or decreasing your resistance with the water — two ways to make your swimming more efficient (i.e. faster). Wet suits can also provide warmth in colder waters.


Go Basic: Does it have two wheels? Then it’s go time! A beach cruiser, mountain bike, hybrid bike or road bike will do the trick for shorter distances (Sprint or Olympic races). If you’re going for a longer race like the half or full IRONMAN, a basic road bike with extra water bottle cages is all you need. Just make sure you have a helmet and the proper items to repair a flat tire!

Get Fancy: Looking to get faster on the shorter courses or step beyond the Olympic distance to the half or full IRONMAN? Then it’s time to think about upgrades for your road bike (like aerobars to put your body in a more efficient cycling position, clip-in shoes and special pedals to increase your efficiency and power, or choosing a lighter frame made of carbon to maximize your speed). If you’re really looking to upgrade, you might even consider a tri bike specifically designed to help your body achieve optimal performance from cycling to running.


Go Basic: Lace up your favorite running shoes and hit the road — it’s that simple. Not feeling the outdoors? Take it to the treadmill if you must.

Get Fancy: Running shoes come in all shapes and sizes, with some touting the benefits of barefoot running, while others provide extra cushioning or encourage the foot to strike the ground in specific ways. A running specialist can help you determine the best shoe for your specific needs.

Mentality – Develop Mental Fitness

Humans crave security and predictability. But endurance sports are rife with uncertainty. When poorly managed, uncertainty leads to fear and fear almost always leads to subpar performance and dissatisfaction with sport. Follow these three steps to mitigate the negative effects of uncertainty.

  • Prevent it: Do what you can to minimize uncertainty by training like you want to race. Focus on the factors that you can control and ensure you have a plan in place for all of those factors.
  • Manage it: Develop a mantra or automatic actions to fall back when uncertainty strikes. This can be as simple as repeating something along the lines of “focus on what I can control,” or “stick to what I know,” or “race my race.”
  • Grow from it: Being uncomfortable is the key to growth. Rather than view uncertainty as a negative or fear it, view it as an opportunity to grow. With this shift in framing, uncertainty is no longer something to fear but something to welcome on the path to personal growth.

Nutrition – Training Diet

Training for three separate disciplines can take up a lot of time and can put a large strain on an athlete’s energy reserves.

As most triathletes train five to seven days a week, often twice a day, it is important that they adopt eating strategies that promote recovery and maximise energy

This can be achieved by following a varied diet that provides:

  • sufficient carbohydrate (CHO) to balance daily fuel needs
  • adequate protein to meet daily needs and assist muscular repair following exercise
  • a variety of fruits and vegetables to promote intake of vitamins and minerals.

Recovery – Take things Slow.

It is important to build a foundation. A person that is relatively new to triathlon should not be on a program that calls for 15-20 hours of working out each week. Very few people jump into this sport and do extremely well. Mastering the skills involved to be successful takes time. Not weeks or months, but years of training. Coaches and Athletes I personally know, who has competed for 15 to 20 years now tells me that they are still learning new things every race they participates in,  some being top ranked amateur triathletes in the world.

Most people, myself included, are too busy wanting to produce results, that they forget that it takes time. My biggest mistake that I have made in triathlon is trying to push myself too hard too fast. I wanted to win so much, that I often times put my health on the line. I would train when I was sick, race when I was hurt and I wouldn’t take time to recover. This is something that took me a long time to realize, but when I did, I decided that I needed to change my outlook and my approach. Big surprise, when I changed my approach, the results started to show, and the enjoyment level increased.

What do I really need to Know?

Tri is about TRY. Know that this sport and the people who do it are fueled by a passion for potential, and inspired by a Lifestyle, (this is not a hobby) health, wellness and fun. Sure, there’s competition. There are bad days. There are races we can’t finish, and workouts we can’t get through — but there is always heart — because you TRI.

If you have read this far, your seeing the tip of the Iceberg, and the learning curve has began, it is not as daunting as you may think Contact Iconoclasses  to begin a new journey in your life.