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Triathlons Say What? By Our Student Pharmacist, Taylor Law.

A triathlon is a multisport race consisting of swimming, cycling, and running over differing distances. I am training to do a triathlon in August, so I thought I would give you an insider’s view on what is involved.


There are multiple distances when it comes to a triathlon:

  • Sprint: 0.47 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
  • Olympic: 0.9 mile swim, 26.2 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
  • Half Iron Man: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Iron Man: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

Training for a Triathlon 

Most training plans suggest planning out time for 12 weeks of training. Depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are guides how you train. Each day of the week you have a different focus sport. One day is usually a “brick” workout. A brick workout is typically a bike training session followed by a short running training session to practice what you would do in a race.

A sample training plan is shown below.
picture 2Each training plan needs to be tailored to the athlete. For example, I am a strong swimmer, but not a great runner. Instead of swimming on Monday and Wednesday like the plan above, I run those days and then swim on Thursday.

On competition day, triathletes wear tri-suits. They are a special one piece suits the athletes wears for the swim, bike, and run. The suits are a special material that dries fast on the bike. The suits also have a little butt padding for the bike to make it more comfortable. They are meant to be worn for all three lengths of the race to cut down on time in-between switching up the sport- essentially allowing the athlete to have a quicker time.

At the start of the race, athletes will swim. Once they are done with the swim, they will hop on their bikes and complete the biking portion. Once done with the bike, they will get off their bikes and immediately start the run portion of the race.

picture 3

Determining world record holders for triathlons becomes a little hard because in each race there is a small margin of error with depending on how long each distance is. Each race may have differing distances in the transition area (the area between the end of the swim and the start of the bike). Typically to honor athletes they do “world best”.

Right now the world best for the Olympic distance triathlons are:


  • Alistair Browlee at the London 2012 Olympics with a 1:46.25. His swim was 17:04, bike 59:08, and run was 29.08
  • Vincent Luis at the 2019 WTS Yokohama race with a 1:43.21. His swim was 17:41, bike 54:07, and run was 30:21.


  • Emma Snowsill at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a 1:58.27. Her swim was 19:51, bike 1:04.20, and run was 33:17.
  • Katie Zaferes at the 2019 WTS Yokohama race with a 1:52.12. Her swim was 18:46, bike 58.06, and run was 34.07.

For the Olympic distance of a triathlon, professional high caliber athletes complete triathlons in about two hours or less.

Top age group athletes complete triathlons in the range of 2-2.5 hours.

A typical beginner time for a triathlon typically is in the range for 3-3.5 hours.






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