+What is a Triathlon?

Triathlon is an endurance event consisting of swimming, cycling , and running in immediate succession. Within the discipline of triathlon, there exist multiple racing distances. These range from youth events, all the way up to “Ultra” style events that can take days to complete. The most common distances you will find locally are sprint and Olympic. A sprint distance triathlon generally consists of a .25-.50mile swim, a 10-15mile bike, and a 5K (3.1mile) run. An Olympic distance triathlon is the race format used by athletes competing in the Olympic games. It generally consists of a .9mile swim, 25mile bike and a 10K (6.2mile) run. You may also hear about an “Ironman” or a “Half Ironman” (also known as a 70.3). These are considered long-course triathlons. An Ironman race consists of a 2.4mile swim, 112mile bike and a 26.2mile (marathon) run. A 70.3 is exactly half of the Ironman distances. Also, we have a unique event on island called the “Ironteams” relay, which is usually held in June. This is a “non-traditional” event that includes multiple running segments and a paddle board segment as well. Many complete in this event as individuals, however it usually is done by teams of 5-7 people. You can find more information by clicking here: Iron Teams Relay

Most triathlons are sanctioned by USA Triathlon (USAT) Their mission is to ensure fair competition across all events and to promote the sport through a variety of programs including camps, coaching, races and other events. A yearly membership can be purchased for around $40.00 and allows you to avoid the $10.00 additional fee charged for a one day license at each race. www.usatriathlon.org

+How do I know if I can do this?

The reasons why people choose to do triathlons may vary. However, the benefits are immediate and universal. Training for and participating in a triathlon is one of the most rewarding activities you can undertake in your life, building your self-confidence, giving you meaning and self-discipline in your exercise habits, inspiring and motivating you, as well as expanding your horizons and ability to take on new challenges.

Anyone can participate in a triathlon. Most people start because they want to get in shape and lose a couple pounds, others do it because a friend talks about how much fun they had training and racing in a local event. Teenagers to people in their 80s compete in triathlons all over the world. Youth triathlons are also on the rise.

+Why should I do this?

Since triathlons involve cardiovascular exercise for the whole body, the overall effect from training is a toned and fit body balanced all over whereas training for one sport alone offers muscle development in only specific areas. Many athletes choose triathlons because of the amazing benefits of these cardiovascular exercises.

Training for a triathlon transports you into another world of self-growth. You will meet like-minded people who enjoy individual sports on a highly personal level. Whether you are a young twenty-year old just starting out, or a grandparent, you can participate in a triathlon and become a world-class professional. Training for a triathlon is highly motivating and inspiring, increasing your sense of purpose in the world, while pushing you to be the best that you can be. You will find significant improvement in every aspect of your life from the discipline, focus, new energy, enthusiasm, and love that you put into your training, that will now flow into everything else in your life.

As the triathlete Dave Scott said, “If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race; its up to you.”

+Do I have to participate in races?

While many club members enjoy the competition, racing a triathlon is not for everyone and we certainly do not require that you race. If you enjoy swimming, cycling and running for the health benefits but don’t want to participate in a triathlon, we are more than happy to support your training in these areas and help to connect you with training partners. If you decide that you want to try a race, we’re happy to support you in that endeavor as well!

+What about nutrition during or before a race? After?

Nutrition is a fundamental element of the sport of triathlon. Multi-sport nutrition can be broken down into two levels: “Macro” nutrition and “Micro”nutrition. Macro nutrition is your life-style as a whole. It’s how you fuel your body on a daily basis. This includes meals, snacks, treats and beverages. Micro nutrition is a more specific concept. This includes the fuel you use to power your training and racing as well as the fuel you use to recover from hard training or racing. This can include pre-race gels, (small packets of sugar based carbohydrates) sports drinks, and protein based, longer term fuel options.

As important as it is to fuel properly, it is equally as important to recover properly. By recovering properly, you are topping off depleted fuel sources so your body can begin to repair itself and prepare for the next workout. There are volumes of information available on multi-sport nutrition and much of it can be very informative. Other club members can also share what has worked for them in the past and, more importantly, any mistakes they have made. The most important thing to remember is to have a plan for your nutrition and to test prior to your event. Nothing new on race day!

+What should I wear during a race?

Nantucket Triathlon Club racing gear of course!

The options for triathlon racing gear are many and it will take some experimentation to find what works for you. Some prefer to race in nothing but a bathing suit from start to finish, others choose to wear cycling shorts for the bike and running shorts for the run. It’s entirely up to you, whatever you are comfortable in and there is no right option. Many find the simplest option to be gear developed specifically for triathlon that can be worn through the swim, bike and run. This can be either a one or two piece suit – the bottoms have a thin pad made of fleece to make the bike slightly less uncomfortable and the top is generally sleeveless or tank top style for women. A one piece suit tends to cover you up a bit more than triathlon garb, and some say it creates a bit less drag while on the bike – the disadvantage is that it’s a bit less convenient to get off when you’re nervously visiting the port-o-potty over and over again in the morning before a race! Whatever you decide to wear, make sure that race day is not the first time you try out your new gear – that’s not a good day to find out that something doesn’t fit right or is chafing!

+How do I get Nantucket Triathlon Club racing gear?

Our custom club cycling and racing gear is made by Voler. Unfortunately, these items will only be ordered through the club once or twice a year. Our first order for the 2011 season was submitted in March. Please stay tuned to the club forum, we will announce when our next order will go in later in the year or early spring 2012. However, we will have club tech shirts available for sale very soon!

+Are Transitions important? How do I set up my area?

Absolutely! The transition is the 4th discipline of a triathlon after the swim, bike and run and it’s an area that many triathletes neglect to practice – but if you spend some time thinking about and practicing transitions, you can stand to gain precious seconds, even minutes, while expending very little energy! If you are entering your first race, it’s much more important to take your time in transition, catch your breath and make sure you have what you need. However, as you participate in more and more races, you’ll notice that transition is one place you can pick up free “speed” without having to train hard for hours every week!

The club plans to offer periodic transition clinics for members to learn some transition tricks and to get in some practice. However, here are a few general rules of thumb:

  • Keep it simple! Keep your transition area free of clutter and have only what you NEED to race. Everything else, leave in the car so it’s not in your way – or the way of other racers.
  • Be aware of those around you and take up as little space as possible. Don’t invade the space next to you – be considerate to your fellow racers!
  • Put down a brightly-colored towel to make your spot recognizable – it can be bewildering to run into transition with hundreds of bikes so find a simple way to make your spot unique! Many racers like to mark their spot with a balloon – this is fine and certainly visible, just remember, make sure this won’t get in anyone else’s way, or get tied up on a bike accidentally.
  • Before the start of the race, review the transition area carefully. Make sure you clearly understand where the bike and run exits are and how to get to your transition area from the swim and again when you bike in to start the run. Walk these routes in the morning, walk back and forth to your bike, find landmarks, or signs on the ends of racks that you can look for to find your area. When you’re moving fast, breathing hard, and there are other racers involved, you’d be surprised how confusing transition can be. It pays to calmly walk these routes in the morning.

+How do I begin?

First of all, you've come to the right place! The best way to begin is to join the club. We will provide you with resources you need to start your new triathlon lifestyle. The next thing you need to do is find a race that suits you. This may be an all women's sprint race or a low-key Olympic distance triathlon. Alternatively, start with a Duathlon ( run-bike-run) and ease into the swimming portion. We encourage you to ask questions at meetings, training sessions and on the forums. We all started in this sport in the same place and would love to help newcomers wade their way though the sometimes confusing terminology and concepts.

+How do I shake this Triathlon addiction?

Triathlon can be hazardous to your health. It causes extreme feelings of euphoria, satisfaction and personal pride. Once you complete your first triathlon, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to stop thinking about this great sport.

Have a question that isn’t answered here? Contact us any time at info@nantuckettriathlonclub.org