Give it a Tri

Maeve Kavanagh, PRO of the Limerick Triathlon club explains why the Triathlon is not just for the superfit athlete and outlines how anyone can partake in one of Ireland’s fastest growing sports.

Triathlons are one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland and are not just for the superfit athlete.  The variety in triathlon training makes it one of the most enjoyable ways to get in all around great shape.  It is an endurance sport, in which the individual carries out a swimming, a cycling and a running segment and in the order as stated.  The three disciplines combine and complement one another to improve an individuals overall fitness, but most of all it’s the sheer enjoyment, adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment that comes when you cross the finish line, that gets you hooked.

If you are looking for a new challenge to kick start the New Year then – Give it a Tri!

There are various distances that a triathlon can come in:

Sprint: 750m Swim, 20k Cycle, 5k Run
Standard (Olympic): 1500m Swim, 40K Cycle, 10k Run
Long (Ironman): 3800m Swim, 180k cycle, 42.2k Run

There is specific triathlon wear that you can buy but if it’s your first event, swimming togs will suffice for the swim and shorts & top/jersey for the cycle and run will do fine. Some websites will advertise all ‘Tri gear packages’ but I would recommend taking your time when buying gear – see how you like the sport first and get an idea of what suits you.

Swim: Togs, Goggles & Hat.  If the swim is open water then you will probably need a wetsuit:

Cycle: Bike – a racing bike is probably the best option, but you could use a mountain or hybrid bike.  A helmet is compulsory for all races.  As you get more into the triathlons there are a lot of accessories you can purchase for the bike, but don’t rush into buying all the expensive gear.

Run: Good pair of runners.

Generally, the triathlon season commences in February and runs up until September.  There are races in almost every county in Ireland.

Limerick Triathlon club is the longest running triathlon club in Ireland. Founded in 1985 the club has recently gone through a boom in with membership now totalling over 120 members.

Every year the club organises numerous races:

1. Duathlon Series:

No.1    Feb 7,   2010
No.2    Feb 21, 2010
No.3    Mar 21, 2010

Location: St. Enda’s Sports Complex, Kilmallock Road, Limerick City

2. Joey Hannon Memorial Triathlon:
May 2nd 2010

Location: University Arena, University of Limerick

3. “Hell of the West”

26th June 2010

Location: Kilkee, Co.Clare

New members are always welcome and an application form can be completed on-line.  Membership for the 2010 season is €30.00 and members can avail of the organised training sessions as well as discounts from a select number of Limerick shops.   The club is always looking for volunteers to help out with the events, so if you’d like to see what’s involved in the events before you take part yourself then please get in touch with us.

Limerick Triathlon Club has a wide variety of club training sessions organised to suit different abilities and needs and a training timetable is available on the website.  Once you join the club you will meet many more like minded people so you will have training partners in no time!

If you have not exercised in a long time then the first recommendation would be to get Doctors Clearance.  Enter a race a few months ahead of time i.e. 3-4 months.  Choose a race and distance that you think you will be able for.  Your training will depend on your fitness level.  For complete beginners a sprint distance is probably the best option and training for this does not have to take over you life.  If you’re already exercising on a daily basis, you won’t need to increase your training too much.  If you’re not a confident swimmer, perhaps enter a race where the swim is pool based.

Focus on your weaknesses. If you are already a strong swimmer, bicyclist or runner, then you will need to work on those aspects of your training less. Continue to maintain your fitness in your strong areas, but work harder to build your strength in your weak events.

Create a triathlon workout schedule and stick to it. Always strive to exercise 1-to-2 hours per day 5 or 6 days per week. A rest day is essential to aid recovery.  Start off slow as you build strength and endurance. Another tip is to alternate you swim, bike an run sessions as this allows you to focus on different muscle groups on different days.

An important part of your training should be practicing the transitions between biking, swimming and running.  Try and do a least one “dry run”, practicing both changeovers before race day.

You should be able to complete the full distance of each event before race day – i.e. swim a full 750m, cycle 20k and run 5k.  Then on the day it’s all about putting them together!

If you can’t swim its worth investing in swimming lessons and there is always Duathlons   A Duathlon is similar to a triathlon in that it is an endurance sport but the swim leg is replaced by a run leg, so for example you might Run 3.5km, Cycle 16m, Run 3.5km.

As this is an endurance sport it is very important that you support your body by staying hydrated and eating a high energy diet.   This is essential in order to increase your stamina, improve performance and delay fatigue.   A high carbohydrate diet is generally recommended for endurance events.  Glucose is the most efficient form of energy for exercising muscles.  When you exercise your body uses the glucose in your muscles for energy, so it is important that your muscles are fully stocked before exercise and replenished after.

Yes you can! It just takes patience and willpower and once you have these the training will come easy.

Some useful websites: – Useful information on nutrition – A list of fitness events globally