Everything you need to know about the triathlon

Triathlon & Open Water
Written by: arena coaches at 11 August '17 0
You are reading: Everything you need to know about the triathlon

Are you thinking about doing a triathlon? This is where you start. Learn the basics!

The Triathlon is an individual multi-discipline sport consisting of a swim, bike ride and run, performed one after the other.


There are some doubts about the origins of the sport.

Legend has it that three Hawaiian swimming, cycling and running coaches wanted to find out which sport required the highest level of fitness, so they decided to organise one single race that did not favour any of them.

According to its official history though, the first people to take on this kind of multi-sport challenge were two coaches from San Diego University, who, back in 1974, battled out a race consisting of a 5.3 mile run, 5 mile bike ride and 600 yard swim.


Everything you need to know about the triathlon


It became an Olympic sport in 2000 over the following race distances: a 1.5 km swim followed by a 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run to complete the race. The various official race distances are shown in the table above. The transition from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running takes place in an area called the “transition zone”.

The swim leg takes place in open water but can also be held in a swimming pool. The start can take place in the water, on the beach or diving off a pier. The course is marked by buoys and the triathletes emerge from the water close to T1 (first transitions zone), where they must leave their skinsuit, swim cap and goggles in a specially designated area and only take their bike after first putting on and fastening their helmet.


Only once you are out of T1 can you  get on your bike and start riding, either alone or in a pack.

About a few hundred metres from the transition area from cycling to running (T2) you can start relaxing your legs and, just before crossing the entrance line into T2, you must get off your bike and run with it to its designated spot, where you must place it carefully in position and then take off your helmet and put on your running shoes.


You run the last leg to the finish line. You must pace yourself carefully over the first 500-1000 m focusing on your leg cadence, which is different from when cycling; once you find the right pace and breathing rate, it is full speed ahead to the finish!

The triathlon is undoubtedly an energy-sapping sport that is particularly tough on your aerobic system but, provided all the right precautions are taken, it can be enjoyed by everybody from young kids to the elderly, so why not give it a go?


Written by:

arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.