THE OSM GUIDE
TRI, TRI AND
It was once the preserve of the super-ﬁt
and masochists. But now triathlon – the
endurance race in which competitors swim,
cycle and run – is the UK’s fastest-growing
participation sport. Whatever your ﬁtness
level, over the next six pages James Witts
will help ease you into the water…
May 2008 OSM 51
How far can you go?
A triathlon comprises a swim, a bike and
a run, usually in that order. The swim
often takes place in a lake, sea, or other
open water; the bike and run will generally
be on road and pavement.
Super sprint A 400m swim, 10km cycle
and 2.5km run. The most accessible
race for novices.
Sprint 750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km
run. An increasingly popular distance
for amateur triathletes.
Olympic distance 1.5km swim, 40km
cycle, 10km run. Also known as ‘short
course’, and the format raced in
World Cups, too.
Middle 1.9km swim, 90km cycle,
21.1km run. This distance, also known
as ‘Half Ironman’, now has a pro
circuit and world championships.
Full distance or Ironman 3.8km swim,
180km cycle, 42.2km run. For
those fond of hallucinations and
Deca Triathlon Ten times the Ironman
distance. Allow a fortnight for the
whole thing. Masochists only need
apply: Cornishman Bob Brown
ingested 95 painkillers in the ﬁnal
days of the 1997 race and took nearly
two years to recover.
Tri lingo Swim
The jargon explained What you need to survive stage one
T THE GEAR
Aerobars A set of bicycle handlebars he front crawl may be the
that get you low and aerodynamic. quickest,’ says triathlon coach
Age-grouper Anyone who races Mark Kleanthous, ‘but there’s The kit you need and the price to pay
triathlon but doesn’t train no problems at all with doing (excluding blood, sweat and tears)
professionally. Most events break breaststroke. Some athletes have even
down into ﬁve-year categories. completed the Ironman swim doing WETSUIT
Biking Never ‘cycling’. backstroke.’ (Backstroke is banned at some A good wetsuit will be
Bonking When your body runs out of triathlons, including London, to avoid comfortable, ﬂexible,
energy (avoided by taking on glucose). confusion between an athlete backstroking and provide insulation
Brick training Combining two of the and one who is on the verge of drowning.) and buoyancy.
three disciplines in training, usually The swim takes up only 15-18 per cent of
biking followed by running. the race. And because you’ll gain such high TOP END
T1 and T2 The transition areas where ﬁtness levels through cycling and running, Orca Apex 2 £350
you change from swim to bike and you can focus on technique. Each swim (right) orca.com
bike to run respectively. Normally on session should include drills that break Uniquely, it has little
the same square plot of grass. down the parts of the stroke – arm action, pockets of air trapped
Tapering To maximise all that training, leg action, breathing, body balance and in the neoprene to help
you need to rest. In the last week or timing – before you bring it all together. your buoyancy. Worn
two before the big day, cut down the How much should you swim? Elite by Tim Don.
exercise, so your mind and body are athlete Richard Stannard recommends
raring to go by the start. a little and often (three times a week for ENTRY LEVEL
30-40 minutes each time). If your event Foor Quantum £125
includes an open-water swim, practise in triuk.com
James Witts is the editor of ‘220 your wetsuit in open water.
Triathlon’ magazine and a keen triathlete
52 OSM May 2008
OSM’S TRIATHLON GUIDE
The training schedule Part 1
of Honolulu, takes It’s three months to the Mazda London Triathlon on 9-10 August and you will actually enjoy it if you follow
to the water. triathlon coach Joe Beer’s 12-week training programme – you’ll ﬁnd the rest on the following three pages.
WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3 WEEK 4
MON Swim 15-20mins. Swim 30-35mins. Swim 40mins. Swim 20-25mins.
Single lengths with Single lengths with Alternate single Build 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
rest between. rest between. Count and double lengths. lengths with rest
your strokes per Time yourself over between and back
length every 5mins 100m and count the down again.
and aim to decrease total strokes.
TUE Do a favourite REST Your favourite REST
session in either of session.
WED Run 20-25mins on Run 25-35mins. Run 40-45mins. Run 20-25mins.
a soft surface. Start Start easy with Aim to be relaxed,
easy with walking, walk, jog then run. not exhausted.
jogging then Do this as your
running. warm-up in all
THUR Pick your weakest Extra session in Pick your weakest Extra session in
sport and focus on your least favoured sport and focus on your least favoured
good technique. sport. good technique. sport.
FRI REST REST REST REST
SAT Cycle 40-60mins Cycle 60-75mins on Cycle 80-90mins on Cycle 50mins on
on ﬂat terrain or in ﬂat terrain. ﬂat terrain. ﬂat terrain. Add
the gym. a 10-minute run
The neoprene is coated with a after the bike.
100 per cent smooth skin ﬁnish, to
help you slip through the water.
SUN Do a session you Another session in Do a session you Another session in
missed in the week your weakest sport. missed in the week your weakest sport.
GOGGLES or have a day oﬀ. or have a day oﬀ.
Zoggs Predator Mask £16.99 (below)
The scuba-style mask comes into its GREAT TRIATHLONS OF THE WORLD
ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS, AP. ALL PRODUCT SHOTS BY KATHERINE ROSE
own in open water, as they won’t get
knocked oﬀ or leak.
No1 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, San Francisco, USA
A non-standard 1.5-mile swim,
18-mile bike and 8-mile run
Aqua Sphere Mako £6.99 Freezing-cold waters, dangerous
swimshop4u.co.uk currents, 18 miles of hilly biking
Easy-adjust buckles, cosy ﬁt and and a run that includes the
excellent UV protection. infamous Sand Ladder – 400 steps
up a cliﬀ – mean that the event is as
tough as the prison.
May 2008 OSM 53
Common errors Bike
And how to avoid them The secret to a great ride
Last October, 30-year-old
Chrissie Wellington (left), The bike leg isn’t only the longest of shaped like teardrops or special
from Suﬀolk, became the the three disciplines (taking up about lightweight bike frames. The rule is: the
ﬁrst Briton to win Ironman 50 per cent of your race time), it’s also lighter the bike, the more it will cost.
Hawaii – in only her second the one where you must integrate your Make sure you have a helmet
Ironman. She had been a pro for just 10 body with a machine. So it’s important that adheres to the necessary safety
months. Here is her advice for how to beat your bike is right for you – and that you standards – you can’t race without
the ﬁve typical triathlon problems. are positioned correctly on it. one. It’s also worth buying a pair of
The key to a good set-up, says cycling shorts or by the end of the bike
1 Losing motivation Phil Cavell – a specialist in cycling your backside can feel like it has been
The main reason we wander from ergonomics and the founder of the through a cheese grater. Don’t worry
our goals is relying on only ourselves London bike centre CycleFit – is getting about clipless pedals unless you’re
for motivation. Joining a club is well the correct saddle height (which is the already a conﬁdent cyclist.
worth it: there are more than 100 up distance from the pedal axle to the top As for physical training, one long
and down the country and it’s a great of the seat). Cavell says: ‘Your saddle ride a week (at least an hour) is vital
way to make friends, ﬁnd training height should be set so your legs are to improve ﬁtness and endurance. You
partners and pick up tips. Don’t be almost fully extended – about a 30 can supplement this by commuting.
nervous if you’ve never swum, biked degree kink in the knee – at the bottom ‘And if it’s a long way to work, you can
or run before: most cater for novices. of the pedal stroke.’ always cycle in and get a lift home,’
Either a mountain bike or a cheap says triathlete Mark Kleanthous. Keep
2 Wasting money road bike will be ﬁne for triathlon. your bike clean; check tyre pressure
Buy or borrow the essentials: you Regular triathletes will probably want regularly; and it’s worth learning how
don’t need fancy gadgets or kit. I won to upgrade to carbon wheels, helmets to mend a puncture, too.
the World Age Group Triathlon
Champs in 2006 using a borrowed
wetsuit and third-hand bike! Competitors in the
men’s triathlon at
3 Running out of juice the 2004 Athens
If a training session or race is longer Olympics.
than an hour, you’ll need to take in
simple sugars, via an energy drink,
a gel or my choice – malt loaf and jelly
babies. Don’t risk an upset stomach by
trying new products on race day.
4 Being taken by surprise
Recce the course beforehand, even if
it is just involves analysing the course
proﬁle on the web. You don’t want
to hit the bike come race day and be
faced with a mountain when you’ve
only cycled on the ﬂat.
5 Tough transitions
Transitions are important, particularly
in the shorter races, so practise them:
including getting your wetsuit on and
oﬀ at speed. I use a non-petroleum-
based lubricant around the ankles
– not Vaseline, which eats the rubber
– and put the lube on with a rubber
glove to stop my hands getting greasy
(it does attract a few weird glances).
54 OSM May 2008
OSM’S TRIATHLON GUIDE
The training schedule Part 2
WEEK 5 WEEK 6 WEEK 7 WEEK 8
MON Swim 25-35mins. Swim 35-45 mins. Swim 45mins. Pick Swim 25-30mins.
Alternate 1, 2 then Alternate 1, 2, 4 drills that help you Swim longer reps of
3 lengths. Ask then 8 lengths. swim smoother 4, 8 or 10 lengths at
a better swimmer Keep count of total or faster. Ensure a time.
BIKE or swim coach to strokes per length you do 25% of the
Speed and weight are vital. suggest drills to on the longest session breathing to
work on. swims. both sides.
Cervelo P3C £4,435 (above)
ultimatepursuits.co.uk TUE Your favourite REST Exceed your longest REST
The carbon-framed P3C has 19 session or route. train in a discipline.
Ironman victories to its credit.
ENTRY LEVEL WED Run 25mins. Start Run 35-45mins. On a soft surface, do Run 20-30mins
Claud Butler San Remo £299.99 easy with walk, jog your longest run yet where you stride out
falconcycles.co.uk then run. by at least 10mins. but without over-
Ideal for novices. exerting yourself.
THUR Extra session in your Extra session in Extra session in your Extra session in the
weakest sport. your least-favoured weakest sport. sport done least
sport. in the past three
HELMET FRI s
Have a sports REST REST Any non-triathlon
No helmet, no race. Make sure its massage. activity.
comfort matches its strength.
TOP END SAT Cycle 60mins on Cycle 60mins on ﬂat Cycle 80-90mins on Cycle 50mins on ﬂat
Met PAC VII £124.99 ﬂat terrain (or terrain. Ride relaxed rolling terrain. terrain, spinning an
ﬁsheroutdoor.co.uk indoors). Make note and sip on a sports easy gear to make
Ultra hi-tech design. of elements to work drink as you ride. the legs feel light
on (eg, out-of-the- Add a 10-minute afterwards. Then
ENTRY LEVEL saddle riding). run after the bike. a 10-minute run.
Giro Stylus £39.99 (above)
A lightweight, comfortable lid. SUN REST REST REST Swim 200m,
30mins, run 15mins.
SHOES GREAT TRIATHLONS OF THE WORLD
The so-called ‘clipless shoes’
actually lock on to the bike pedals.
No 2 Ironman Hawaii, Kona, Hawaii
Shimano TR50 £109.95 (above) Full distance Ironman
ACTION IMAGES/RICHARD HEATHCOTE, AP, EPA
ultimatepursuits.co.uk 11 October
The single strap saves time in ironmanlive.com
transition; ventilation is good, so
your feet shouldn’t smell like death. The ﬁrst event in 1978 attracted 15
athletes. Thirty years later, to secure
ENTRY LEVEL a place among the starting 1,800, you
Exustar SR900 £49.99 must qualify at one of the 21 global
rsi-cycles.com events or strike lucky in a lottery.
Light and won’t break the bank. Lava ﬁelds and the Paciﬁc provide
a mystical backdrop.
May 2008 OSM 55
OSM’S TRIATHLON GUIDE
The training schedule Part 3
WEEK 9 WEEK 10 WEEK 11 RACE WEEK
MON Swim 25-35mins. Swim 35-45mins. Run 20-30mins. Swim 25-30 mins.
Alternate 1, 2 then 3 Alternate 2 lengths Swim faster reps
lengths. Have drills fast, 4 breathing to of 4 lengths with
to work on. both sides then 8 30-60secs rest
lengths steady. between.
TUE Favourite session or REST Go longer in one REST
route. event than before.
Get into your stride Run 35mins. Run 45mins at a Run your longest Run 20-30mins.
WED easy pace. run yet by at least
‘Good-ﬁtting shoes are essential,’ 10mins.
says Britain’s 2006 world champion
Tim Don (above). ‘You should get
your running style analysed by a THUR Extra session in Extra session in Swim 45mins Get your race kit
professional, who can then prescribe your weakest sport, your least-favoured against the clock on ready and eat well.
the right ones for you.’ Brick doing at least 75% sport. at least 50% of your
training – training in two disciplines of race distance. race distance.
consecutively, for example a bike
ride followed by a run – is vital, says
Don. ‘You have to run after jumping FRI Have a sports REST REST Cycle 10-20mins to
oﬀ a bike in triathlon, so mimic that massage. check your bike out.
sensation in practice.’ Regular cycling Run 10mins.
followed by a period of running
should lessen the jelly-leg feeling.
SAT Check the race Cycle 45mins on Cycle 90mins on The day of the
THE GEAR venue, ride the cycle ﬂat terrain. Do a rolling terrain. The London Triathlon
and run routes. quick transition into race will feel short sprint races. Good
TRI-SUIT Make sure you know a 20-minute run at by comparison. . luck
Comes in one- or two-piece; any ‘surprises’ such a brisk pace.
can be worn for entire race. as steep hills or
NIGEL FARROW, NEWSPIX
Skinﬁt Speedsuit II £110
Very close-ﬁtting suit. SUN REST REST REST RECOVER!
Especially good for
Craft Women’s Tri Race £59.99 GREAT TRIATHLONS OF THE WORLD
Breathable and ultra-light.
No 3 Noosa Festival, Queensland, Australia
TOP END 29 October to 2 November
Brooks Trance 7 £110 usmevents.com.au
A balance of control, cushioning and feel. Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast two hours’ drive
from Brisbane, stages a ﬁve-day celebration
ENTRY LEVEL of endurance sport that has thousands of
New Balance M755SR £60 everyday Aussies rubbing shoulders with
newbalance.co.uk famous international athletes such as Grant
Good value and still very respectable. Hackett, Kieren Perkins and Robbie McEwen.
The main event is the triathlon. OSM
56 OSM May 2008