Crash Course: Intro to Triathlon Terms

For those that are newer to the world of triathlons (myself included), I thought we could introduce a few terms that could be helpful lingo to put in your back pocket to pull out when you’re trying to fit in or if you want to know more and more about an event you’re growing to love. I’ll pre-warn you that I will largely stick to more generic terms rather than the extensive list of equipment specific terminology. Hopefully knowing even the slightest bit more about triathlons will help you when it comes time to training and more importantly, I think, it may help you if you’re looking to interact with, and gain advice from, some seasoned veterans. As I continue to do the same, I encourage you to become more and more familiarized with triathlons… the more you know- the more there is to love! Also, when diving into something as physically demanding as triathlons, the more you study and learn the more effective your training will become.

  • ATP= Annual Training Plan. Very straightforward.
  • Body Marking=  When checking in for their event, athletes will have identifying information such as their race number or age applied to their upper arms to be identifiable to race officials during the event.
  • Chamois Butter= Skin lubricant that you can apply in any sensitive areas where chafing may occur. Many riders find that it makes riding more comfortable and can help reduce the occurrence of saddle sores.
  • Drafting=This can occur during the cycling portion of an event when one rider bikes closely behind another in an attempt to reduce wind resistance. The rider in the back can gain an advantage because they have to exert less energy while still going the same speed as the person in front of them. This technique is illegal in our Race on the Base Reverse Triathlon, as well as most other races.
  • Lactate Threshold= The highest pace at which you can go for an extended period (> 30 minutes) without building up lactic acid. When your threshold is reached, your body is producing more lactic acid than it can use which causes a build up in the bloodstream. This is thought to lead to muscle soreness. An athlete’s threshold can be significantly increased through training, which can help greatly in endurance sports that require constant exertion over longer periods of time.
  • Lactic Acid= Lactic acid is produced from glucose by muscles during exercise. It is used for energy. (Check out this great article from Active for more detailed information http://www.active.com/running/Articles/How_to_Push_Past_Your_Lactic_Acid_Limits.htm)
  • Mashing= A cycling term indicating pedaling a big gear (53 x 13 or 14) with a slower cadence instead of spinning a smaller gear.
  • PB= Personal Best.
  • Periodization= Varying the training levels over discrete periods of time to prevent overtraining.
  • Pronation= This is defined as when a person holds more of their weight on the inside part of their foot when walking or running. (See Supination)
  • RICE= Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate. The treatment to use after suffering a sprain, strain, muscle pull, or tear. Doing this immediately after an injury can help both heal faster and prevent the injury from worsening.
  • Split= Your time for a portion of your race or workout.
  • Supination= Essentially the opposite of pronation, where an athlete places the majority of their weight on the outside of their feet. Determining how you run is important and it is recommended that you get fitted for custom shoes that take into account your running style, foot shape, and more.
  • Transition area= This is a location in the race where a triathlete will keep their belongings. In our race, you are assigned to a specific bike rack based on your wave. Here is where you will transition from one leg of the race to the next. The following is specific to our Reverse Triathlon= After a triathlete finishes their run, they run to the transition area where they mount their bike. After the bike leg of the race is completed, the triathlete dismounts their bike (in the same spot they retrieved it) and runs to the pool for the swim portion. The race ends at the finish line that is staged at the end of the pool (200 meter swim).
  • USAT= USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the multi-sport disciplines of triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. When registered through here, athletes can track their results and standings against the world of triathletes they are competing with.
  • VDOT= I stumbled upon this acronym and after some good old fashioned google perusing I have come to the consensus (with the help of Brian at www.arunnersblog.com) that this represents the “volume of oxygen consumed per minute” or essentially your “aerobic capacity.” Why is this important? It helps define the maximum amount of oxygen your body is capable of consuming per minute during a given exercise. It helps determine the intensity of your current and future trainings based on recent performances in races. (Also known as “VO2 Max”)
  • Waves= When an event (ie. 5K or Half marathon) does not start off with all of the participants at once, but is instead broken up into groups called waves. These waves are commonly separated by gender or age groups.  Structuring races in this way helps to accommodate more competitors without the race feeling as crowded.

Welcome to the world of triathlons, friends! I hope this is just the beginning of a long and passionate relationship (like any good relationship, any good sporting activity will have its ups and downs. What matters is that when it is right for you, you stick with it!) Remember, if you are new… start slow. You don’t need to be an instant Michael Phelps in the water or a sensational Mark Allen (six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion) over night.

Who here will be using our Reverse Triathlon to ease them into the world of Triathlons? For our veterans out there, please feel free to add any other terms you think may be important to us newbies. Happy training to you!

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