Triathlon distances vary greatly. This is part of the beauty of triathlon because you can achieve success at the distance that you want. There is no pressure to train for an Ironman triathlon, and there is no shame in sticking to local sprint triathlons.
The triathlon distances that you wish to compete in is entirely up to you. I know that back in 1999 when I first started training for triathlon that it took me about three years to pluck up the courage to enter and Ironman. I remember chatting to my friend Andy about it, and how we both were very overwhelmed by the prospect of completing an Ironman.
Nowadays though triathlon has become more of a mainstream sport – it is one of the fastest growing and mass participation sports in the world now. And with this the prospect of longer races seems to have been tamed. This is a fantastic thing. Novices and even first time triathletes are now entering Ironman for all manner of reasons.
Reasons To Enter An Ironman (or any triathlon distances)
- Charity fundraising effort
- Inspired by a friend or family
- Work team building
- Milestone birthday
- Lose weight and health reasons
- To win or at least test your fitness against the clock
- To qualify to for Kona
- To qualify for europeans or the worlds
- As a bet
What Triathlon Distances Are Popular?
The triathlon distances I am going to cover today include:
- Half Ironman
These are all considered to be triathlons but in my view they are very different sports. The approach to a sprint triathlon is completely different to that of an Ironman triathlon. The general format of a triathlon is swim-bike-run. While the distances below are standard, there are often variations in local and regional events.
- Swim 400/750m
- Bike 20km
- Run 5km
Olympic Distance Triathlon
- Swim 1500m
- Bike 40km
- Run 10km
Half Ironman Distance
- Swim 1900m
- Bike 90km
- Run 21km
- 3.8km swim
- 180km bike
- 42km run
What Dualthon Distances Are Popular?
Dualthlon is also a popular sport for triathletes for different reasons. Dualthlon format is generally run-bike-run and the duathlon season differs to the triathlon season.
As with triathlon there are different distances on offer to duathletes and many variations between races.
The second run is often shorter but not always, and the distances cater for novices all the way through to ultra distance long course duathlons.
Long Course Duathlon (ITU Powerman)
- Run 1 10km
- Bike 150km
- Run2 30km
Standard Duathlon Distances
- Run 1 10km
- Bike 40km
- Run 2 5km
Sprint Distance Duathlon
- Run 1 5km
- Bike 20km
- Run2 2.5
Many athletes consider duathlon to be a tough sport. Tougher than triathlon even. Others say it is a sport for those triathletes that ‘can’t swim’.
Having raced at international and national duathlons in the past I say that duathlon is a very tough sport. With a second run on fatigued legs I agree that it may feel even harder than triathlon. I also understand that for myself with swimming as my ‘third best’ sport, duathlon suits me.
Either way, I highly recommend entering a duathlon as they are great fun and a very race specific way to maintain triathlon fitness.
Are Longer Triathlon Distances Safe For Novices?
There is a lot of scare mongering in the media about the dangers of endurance sports.
Less dramatic stories on the ever increasing obesity epidemic facing young people and sedentary adults. And with inactivity overtaking smoking as a leading cause of premature death I would suggest the dangers of endurance sports are ‘perceived’ dangers, and that the benefits of an active lifestyle outweigh any risks.
Are Sprint And Olympic Distances Easy To Train For?
Triathletes are notorious for doing masses of training sessions. There is a culture of ‘earning your base fitness’ with endless hours of low intensity swim bike and run sessions before even thinking about training to get race fit.
While this mindset might have some value, I believe that for most of us, time to train is the biggest hurdle faced by ‘real world’ triathletes.
For this reason I advocate an intensity based approach to training rather than the traditional volume based approach.
The two main benefits of an intensity based approach include saved time and increased fitness. By using intensity as your main variable you have shorter sessions that result in greater fitness gains. In addition, the training volume, while low, remains much more constant. This makes planning and logistics much easier to manage.
So, are triathlons easy to train for? In terms of training, they don’t have to necessarily take over your life. Consistency pays off though and a consistent and manageable plan that you can stick to is far better than making life difficult with too much training.
Training Plans For Each Of The Triathlon Distances
When it comes to training plans and training for whichever triathlon distances you choose, you’ll find lots of advice on the triathlon blog. I am always adding new articles and I hope you find them useful.
Here are some articles I think will help you:
In addition I also offer several training plans at various triathlon distances from sprint to Ironman distance.
Choose your distance and learn more about them here:
I also offer an online triathlon coaching service. Following the intensity based approach this follows a periodised training method. It keeps you fresh and motivated, triathlon fit ready to race.
The focus is on getting the biggest fitness gain from the the time you invest into training. Therefore I always focus on quality over quantity.
In addition to training, as with all the plans I offer there is a nutritional component. As well as planning, fitness testing, and mindset activities. I offer all of this because I don’t believe training alone is the best way to achieve in your sport.
If you would like to know more about joining the online triathlon coaching team, then please take a look. Whichever triathlon distances you choose to train for, good luck. Happy training.