Sprint Triathlon What is It and How Far?
What is a Sprint Triathlon?
For the person who wants to run a triathlon and get into the multiple sports (swimming, biking, running) competition the idea of triathlon can seem daunting at first. Oftentimes it is the “Ironman” triathletes who seem more like Superman at times who spring to mind when thinking about a triathlon. With an Ironman triathlon made up of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a marathon (26.2 miles) there is no doubt that this seems impossible to many.
Enter the sprint triathlon distance. Usually made up of about a .5 mile swim, a 12-15 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run, these triathlons are much more achievable to the normal athlete. For the beginner, these races can be a good entry point to triathlon.
This is not to imply that a sprint distance race is easy. There is little doubt that is not a true statement. With the need to swim, bike, and run in that order a not insignificant distance it requires training and discipline to complete.
For any current one sport athlete, there will be new skills to learn and new muscles to train as the muscles used in running, swimming, and bike riding may be complementary, but all are used differently and with different intensity in each sport.
Following a proper training program and schedule and making sure to have the proper equipment will help to ensure success in accomplishing a sprint triathlon.
Weights and Cycling: Increased Performance for the Bike Portion of Sprint Triathlon
How do you get better at almost anything? One way is that you consistently perform it (practice makes perfect). This also applies to exercise, including sprint triathlon training. When trying to improve cycling performance, you can increase your performance with weight training. This is important for both competitive cyclists and also for fitness buffs who want to use cycling for getting into better shape. And for triathletes looking to improve one-third of their overall game plan.
Fitness experts and doctors recommend weight training for all adults regardless of age. Weight training builds muscle which increases your body’s fat burning potential. Weight trainers experience these benefits even while they sleep. Your bones are also strengthened by weight bearing exercises which is good news for older adults especially women who suffer from osteoporosis.
Weight training exercises for cyclists
When you do any form of exercise whether weight training or cycling, a warm up and a cool down along with a stretch is important. The warm-up gets the muscles in the mood for exercise and makes the muscles more susceptible to stretching. The cooldown lowers your heart rate to normal and allows you to get a good stretch out of your muscles to avoid major soreness later.
If you have recently taken up bicycling you’ll have noticed that your legs do the majority of the work. You feel the burn in your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings. As you build muscle endurance, the burning goes away because the muscle works more efficiently and doesn’t build up lactic acid as quickly. Training those muscles through work with weight machines and free weights will help you out and complement the exercise that is done while cycling.
- Squats – this is the quintessential exercise for the lower body. Squats work the abdominal area, the butt, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the calf muscles. Use free weights on your shoulders or a barbell. Focus on your lower body as you lower slowly and push back up to starting position through your heels. Be careful to pay attention to proper form in this and all exercises listed and have a spotter as needed. The squat can also be performed with hand dumbbells if no other equipment or no spotter help is available.
- Calf raises – you can stand on an aerobic step with or without weights in your hand. With your heels off the step, rise up as high as you can onto your toes. Hold and return to start position. Positioning the heels off of the step keeps the tension in the muscle throughout the movement.
- Leg lifts – this exercise works the quadriceps muscle. Your quads do a lot of work when pushing up a hill on your bicycle. Use a leg extension machine to perform this exercise properly. A lower weight with higher repetitions can help increase endurance.
- Hanging leg lifts – the target here is your upper and lower abs. they work to raise your legs as you pedal. Without being on the floor, the focus is on your midsection to do the work of lifting your legs to perform the exercise. Use a hanging frame at the gym or even the monkey bars at the neighborhood park. If it is too hard to lift your legs straight out, start with lifting your knees into your chest while squeezing your abdominal muscles.
To help train for a smoother ride on your bike add some weight training to your exercise routine to prepare your legs for a vigorous bike ride.