While there are creative variations on traditional triathlon distances (like some races that make the swim longer to appease the fish in our midst, or races that make the bike longer to make us feel like we’re getting the mileage we deserve) of our thousand dollar time trial multi-bike, or the races that lengthen the race to just be masochistic and cruel), there are generally 4 triathlon distances: Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman. So to help you with your preparation for the triathlon racing season, here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of each triathlon distance.
Pros: Imagine a sedentary, overweight person sitting on the couch and licking Cheetos residue off their fingers. Technically, it would be possible for that person to be at the start line of a Sprint triathlon just 12 to 16 weeks later. This is because, since sprint triathlon distances are short, they have a low barrier to entry and do not require extensive physical preparation. You only need to be able to swim 400 to 600 meters (8 to 12 laps in a pool), bike 10 to 15 miles, and run or walk 2 to 4 miles, and this requires continuous exercise for about 50 minutes to 2 hours. This may be difficult for some, but it is doable for most. Also, if you’re fit or have triathlon experience, and you want to go faster in a sprint triathlon, it will take less training time than longer distances, so it’s quite rare for the sprint triathlon distance to be a disaster. familiar.
Cons: Sprint triathlons don’t get a lot of buzz. You may get offended when someone asks how your “Mini-Triathlon” went. And if you decide to go fast or aim for a podium spot, a sprint triathlon will hurt a lot. You’ll need to be in a red-hot, high-intensity effort near maximum heart rate for about 2-3 times longer than a 5K run. That’s an area that’s hard to get into for most, but the price you have to pay if you want to win or place in a sprint triathlon distance. Another potential con for many is that you simply don’t have much time to eat during a Sprint triathlon, so those vying for access to a mobile buffet of gels and cookies will be disappointed.
Pros: As the name implies, the Olympic distance is pretty much the same triathlon distance covered at the Olympics (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run), so when someone ask if you did a “Mini-Triathlon”, you can respond by saying, “No, I did exactly what they do in the Olympics.” This will probably make you feel good inside, and at the same time, you won’t have to train as hard as Half-Ironman and Ironman triathletes, so your spouse, kids, family, and friends won’t find you a complete stranger. If you are a triathlon junkie, you can do a lot of Olympic distance races in a year and not be at high risk of overtraining or injury as they are relatively short and you will recover quickly. Also, you can actually eat a little. Bon Appetite.
Cons – At the same time, the intensity of your Olympic triathlon distance training will be much higher than the Half-Ironman and Ironman triathlon. So, just like in the Sprint triathlon, you have to be willing to go into the cave of pain much more often. If you’re out of shape, you might still be caught at an Olympic-distance triathlon by your peers, who will probably say something like, “Come on, it’s only 25% of an Ironman.” However, by the time you reach the 5K point of the race, you’ll be plotting revenge on these fellows. And if you want to get on the podium in an Olympic distance race, be prepared to run smoothly, as the smallest mistakes can cost you precious seconds that add up very quickly for this triathlon distance.
Pros: Congratulations, you have bragging rights for completing a triathlon distance that contains the word “Ironman” without having to give up the whole day. In fact, at many Half-Ironman events, you can finish for lunch, feel great about yourself, and still have the rest of the day to make excuses for not mowing the lawn (“Come on, I just did one Ironman event!” ) or to go drink a lot of cold beer. If you don’t like the white-hot intensity of Olympic distance and Sprint training and racing, but don’t have time to devote to Ironman, then this triathlon distance is a good compromise. Plus, you can travel long distances to compete in a Half-Ironman without the same kind of race-day stress you experience in Ironman. Lastly, if you make a mistake during a Half-Ironman race, like remembering to poop halfway through the half marathon, you’ll still have plenty of time to make up those lost seconds.
Cons: With all the training and effort you’ll put into a half-Ironman triathlon distance, you’ll sometimes find yourself asking the question, “Why didn’t I just sign up for an Ironman?” After all, you’re usually just as sore the next day after a Half Ironman as you are after an Ironman, and you still have a lot of logistical race planning to do when it comes to hydration, electrolytes, or food. Also, the “Half” part of “Half Ironman” doesn’t lend itself as well to bragging (“You only did half? How’s that? You ditched half?”), but you’ll sound desperate. and boring trying to explain what a 70.3 is (“Well, a full Ironman is swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, running 26.2 miles, which is 140.6 miles, but what I’ve done… dude, wake up.”)
Pros: It’s Ironman, to shout out loud. This event has been elevated to the category of worthy tattoo. You heard me? You can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run a marathon and then get a tattoo and your parents will still be proud of you. Heck, your boss probably will too. Unless you’re a musician, Harley fan, or artist, in what other social situation are tattoos acceptable? Even if you skip the tattoo, you’ll have bragging rights for life, feel great about yourself, and be able to eat over 4,000 calories a day and stay slim.
Cons: Ironman is a logistical nightmare. Not only do you need to squeeze 12 to 25 hours of training into any given week, but you also need to figure out how to eat and drink while commuting long distances without your gut swelling like a balloon or your fragile body sphincters screaming in anguish. . You will become best friends with your local sports medicine doctor and physical therapist, and this is not a good thing. During the actual race, you’ll go through periods that have been compared to work, a death march, and a “very dark place.” When it’s over, you may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. You may forget what your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is like, and romantic moments with them may involve nothing more than you lying like a sack of potatoes on the couch while they lovingly run their hands through your sweaty hair. . You may have to appease them by allowing them to help you design your tattoo.
While the above information will give you a good basis for making your triathlon distance decision, I cannot promise for your safety or sanity if you choose to think outside the framework of the triathlon distances outlined in this article and decide to go race . like the American Triple T, which includes a Sprint triathlon, 2 Olympics and a half Ironman in one weekend, or a back-to-back Ironman triathlon like Ultraman. Be sure to drop me a line if you’re tackling a new triathlon distance. I would love to hear your story. And be sure to check out the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, at http://www.rockstartriathlete.com, where you can join me for a weekly webinar to talk about your triathlon training, nutrition, and more.