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Triathlon: The Sport for People Made of Iron

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Stretching our muscles before doing any exercises takes a short amount of time. It ensures that workout enhances our wellbeing and reduces the chance of possible injuries occurring.
  • As triathlon being the ultimate test of competency across all three sports in one event, the training should include good preparations and training schedules of at least three months before the event. Most importantly, you need to know and understand your own capabilities.

 

Triathlon

In this era, where health has become something that people all over the world are concerned about, improving our health, strengthening our body and pushing ourselves to the limit physically has become the challenge for many.

When we speak about a triathlon today, it will not be anything new for many Thais, as competing to become an “Iron Man” has become increasingly popular for both men and women.

Triathlon is a sport which requires competitors to swim, cycle and run continuously and without a break. The sport is broken down into the following categories:

Sprint Distance: This is the shortest form of triathlon and requires competitors to swim 0.75 kilometer, cycle 20 kilometers and run 5 kilometers.

Olympic Distance: The standard distance which is used in the Olympic Games involves swimming 1.5 kilometers, cycling 40 kilometers and running 10 kilometers.

Half Ironman: Also known as “Ironman 70.3”, which refers to the total distance covered in miles, this triathlon consists of a 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer cycle ride and finishes with a 21-kilometer run.

Ironman: The pinnacle for those made of iron, this form of triathlon involves a 3.86-kilometer swim, 180.25-kilometer cycle ride and ends with a 42.2-kilometer run.

Preparing to become an Ironman

Due to the triathlon being the ultimate test of competency across all three sports in one event, combined with the fact that these are all endurance sports that require high amounts of strength and conditioning, it is recommended that training should include the following aspects in particular:

  • Preparations should begin at least three months before the event, and training should be undertaken at least five days a week
  • Swim training should be carried out in open water of similar size and length to the location in which you’ll be competing. Alternatively, if training in a pool, it is recommended that you train by swimming constantly for a distance of approximately twice the amount you’ll be swimming on the day.
  • Divide training into days for swimming, cycling and running, and begin by training at shorter distances before building up to the distance that you will be expected to cover on the day of competition.
  • Try to train in more than one discipline at once every now and again, such as swimming followed by a cycle ride, or running continuously for a long period of time. This will ensure that the muscles involved with each discipline are familiar with the strains which will be placed upon them when the transition between sports is made. It also reduces the risk of injury on the day of competition.
  • Make a training schedule after carefully considering various other training regimes made by those who have competed at the distance before you or even by former champions in the sport. Alter these regimes to suit your personal needs and capabilities.
  • For those with congenital health conditions, a consultation with a doctor should be carried out alongside an exercise stress test (EST) to assess cardiovascular function while exercising. That being said, huge numbers of people with congenital conditions have competed at Ironman events and achieved success despite their conditions. The most important thing is to be correctly prepared.

Injuries that may occur while training, during competition and post-competition

Training at high intensity and over a long period of time is likely to cause fatigue and potentially lead to injury before competition. If an injury does occur while training, such as a swollen ankle, knee pain or shoulder tendonitis, a doctor’s appointment should be made in order to evaluate the severity of the injury, as well as to make an assessment as to whether training should continue or not. This will ensure that the injury does not deteriorate to a point whereby competing would be impossible.

Additionally, while competing on the day itself, the most dangerous part is during the swim section of the race due to this taking part in an open water environment, such as in the sea, a lake or a river. The open water aspect combined with the need to swim continuously for an extended period of time means that competitors are at the mercy of waves, currents and other natural phenomena that are out of their control. Thus, swim training prior to competition combined with taking care of your overall health is of the utmost importance.

If you feel fatigued and exhausted for a period of a week after the competition without any improvement, or if you are suffering from joint inflammation, in such cases medical attention should be sought. This will ensure that you avoid a minor injury turning into a much more serious one which may require a lengthy course of complicated treatment.

Whether competing in a triathlon is a one off or a constant battle against yourself to push your limits of endurance, getting to know and understand your own capabilities is crucial, so that you can select which distance will be suitable for you. Your training can then be tailored to meet those needs, with an emphasis on quality and effectiveness, so that you can strengthen your body and improve your endurance in a way that will give you the best chance of becoming an Ironman in the future.

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