Thursday, July 03, 2008

Triathlon Tips and Resources

Last Updated: 3/20/11 - more resources/links added below

I've tried to create a comprehensive a list on triathlon resources found on the internet. This list has been growing for the last 3 years and counting. Let me know what I should add. If I've missed some good content please feel free to add it via the comments. Thanks!

What is a triathlon?:
In summary a triathlon is an event that includes a swim, bike, and run in that order. Races vary in distance from super sprint to longer than Ironman distances. Instead of giving you the low down here I've compiled a list of sites that have already written on the subject, they are in no particular order:

Wikipedia Triathlon Definition
Ezine Article "What is a triathlon and how can I train for it?"

How do I train for a triathlon?:
The short answer is to say training is unique for every individual. The place to start is to decide why you want to do a triathlon. Somebody who wants to "enjoy a new challenge" may have a different training program than somebody who wants to "lose weight".

Here are some of the considerations when thinking about how you are going to train.
- What degrees of fitness are you starting out with?
- What are your strengths? (ie. Do you already run, bike, or swim?)
- How is your physiology unique? (ie. someone who sweats more will need to drink more.)
- How much time do you have to devote to training?
- What triathlon race distance do you want to do?

I'm no expert on each individuals training needs. However I have compiled a short list of free training plans and resources that you can find online. Free Training Program
Beginner Triathlete Training Programs Training ArticlesTriathlon Training Books
Triathlon Training Videos

Why a triathlon?
Everybody has their own reasons for doing a triathlon here are some common reasons:
- Personal Goal: Completing an Ironman distance triathlon is consider a life goal for many that have seen the inspiring stories from the Hawaii Ironman World Championship on TV.
- Challenge: Many people are just looking for a new challenge or adventure to take on. There are few events as challenging and immersive as completing in a triathlon.
- Improve Fitness/Cross Train: Cross training is a great way to stay fit and reduce the risk of injury by utilizing different muscle groups and reducing injuries caused by repetitive strain.
- Lose Weight: Countless number of people have improved their fitness and in turn lost weight due to training for a triathlon. It is a uniquely challenging sport that has the effect of dramatically changing peoples' lifestyles.

Here's another list of resources. This one is related to articles regarding why you might want to tri.

Runner's World Article "Why Not Tri?"

Equipment Resources: This is brought to you by

Triathlon Equipment Videos - A large compilation of triathlon products. It is constantly being updated. This is the easiest way to shop and learn about triathlon gear ;)

Tri short Review/Comparison - This is a good resource to compare tri shorts. This link goes to the men's section but a women's section will be up soon if it isn't already up.

Real Triathlete Profiles - The nice thing about the video's are that they done by all types of real triathletes. Meaning they have relative beginners to pros talk about the gear; they have people who do sprint distance to people who do Ironman. It's good to get feedback on different types of products from different types of people.

Product Articles and Comparison Reviews - put together a page that consolidated all of their articles and comparison charts. Helpful for the person looking to make picking the right products easier.

Triathlon Wetsuits - has one of the largest wetsuit selections anywhere. They also have a few good articles and guides on wetsuits if you are looking to learn more about which triathlon wetsuit you should buy. In fact a lot of articles that have been shared around the internet the past few years were partially derived from the guides provided by

Created July 3, 2008
Updated July 14, 2010
Updated August 4,2010
Latest Update March 20, 2011

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tri Shoe Versus Road Shoe Q&A

These questions were asked by a fellow Orange County Triathlon Club Member. I've attempted to offer a brief comparison of two specific shoes.

Q. Also, what's the difference between road bike shoes vs. tri specific shoes?
A. In the comparison of two LG shoes below I've highlighted a few differences between a tri and road shoe. These differences will vary from shoe to shoe but I hope it gives some insight into differences.

Pull Tab - A large pull tab on a tri shoe helps with quickly putting it on. This is especially helpful for those who keep the shoe clipped in to the bike. This helps with a quicker transition.

Strap Direction - Most tri shoes have straps that open away from the bike so they don't get caught in the chain when clipped into the bike.

Ventilation - Most tri shoes will have very good ventilation so wet feet can quickly dry out. This isn't to say that road bike shoes have poor ventilation.

Strap count - Most tri shoes will only have 1 strap. Again this is to make it easier and quicker to strap on during a transition especially for those with bike shoes already clipped in.

Q. How much speed is gained when using a road bike shoe vs. a mountain bike shoe?
A. I assume this will vary from person to person, but a more solid platform combined with proper technique should improve speed with a bike/tri shoe. Maybe somebody else out there can offer some links or insight. Apologies for not being more helpful.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How to Handle Waves

Entering waves in at the start:
The key to making it through waves is to not get caught where the wave crashes, duh! The hard part is knowing when and where to be to avoid it. This is tricky because a wave is moving so you can get pulled into a break that throws you into the crashing white water. Anticipation is key here.

When wave breaks are decently spaced apart take your time to watch the time between breaks. Also watch for where the waves are crashing because they will generally crash in the same general area. They won't always break and crash in exactly same spot so it's good to learn how to read a wave. The best way to learn this is to be around and watch watch waves. (If you don't have the option to watch and practice around waves keep reading and I'll give you some tips.) If you swim like mad between crashes you may make it through without getting tossed. This takes a certain amount of experience and good judgement.

When you can't avoid a breaking wave you'll want to dive into the wave towards the ocean bottom and grab the sand until you feel the wave pass. Then you pop out and swim past the wave to calmer water. It's very important to note that you don't want to get caught right where the waves are crashing. You'll want to dive a little before or a little after it crashes. Otherwise you'll get caught up in it and tossed. If you feel like you're being lifted into a wave even just a little play it safe and dive. It's always safer to dive into the wave rather than to try and swim over it and find out after the fact you couldn't make it ;) Also, you won't always be able to reach the ocean bottom. This is ok, you just want to be moving in the opposite direction of the crashing wave.

Swim safe and let me know if you have any other questions.

If your interested in seeing a few pictures and videos of waves at other races check out these two links:

LA Tri Wave Videos
Straberry Fields Wave Pictures

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Touchy Subject - Stomach issues

In my past few races I discovered an unpleasant trend of getting an upset stomach. If this has happened to you it may be due to nerves. I'm generally not the type of person who gets nervous about stuff and you may not be either, that's why I'm writing this post. I had a hard time identifing what my problem was. I kept attributing it to rotten food or some other excuse. It finally made itself apparent to me when I had a stomach episode exactly at the time I went to scope out the race venue the day before. I would've never thought and you may not either. So I started doing all the calming excercises that my wife does and I've been in better shape since. I'm looking forward to better races now because the nutrition stays in ;)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Triathlon Wetsuit Shopping Guide

Triathlon Wetsuit Shopping Guide

(Update 3/20/11: For an updated version of a tri wetsuit shopping guide visit the following Triathlon Wetsuit Buying Guide at The Buying Guide is updated every year. The information below was created Sept 1, 2006.)

Step 1 – Why a triathlon wetsuit?

It’s important to know why and how a triathlon wetsuit (wetsuit) will help you. Here are some benefits a triathlon wetsuit (wet suit) has over a diving, swimming, or no wetsuit at all.
- The buoyant properties of a wetsuit help lift your body out of the water so you expend less energy.
- Triathlon wetsuits are designed to produce less drag helping you to swim faster.
- A wetsuit can provide warmth in cold water swimming.
- A well designed triathlon wetsuit will help you through a transition faster than a diving or surfing wetsuit.
- A buoyant wetsuit assists in better swimming form and technique for beginners. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to train anymore ;)

Here are some of the major triathlon wetsuit brands: Orca, 2XU, De Soto, BlueSeventy,TYR, Ironman, Aquaman, Synergy

Step 2 – What type of swimmer are you?

There are many triathlon wetsuits to choose from. To help narrow down your search let’s determine what type of swimmer you are. I created 3 basic categories to easily identify your level, these levels nicely fall in line with how much you will spend on a wetsuit.

- Level 1: Generally beginners fall into this category. If you’re just getting start in swimming you’ll need a solid suit that will get you through training and a race. Luckily you won’t need to spend much to satisfy these needs. A general rule is that the more expensive suits are designed for speed so if that’s not what you’re looking for then you can save some money. You will be considering these wetsuits:
o Orca: Orca Evo Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Comp2 Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 Black Pearl Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 Black Pearl Vest Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 Black Pearl Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

- Level 2: Generally considered intermediate swimmers. If you swam a couple triathlons in the past or you have a swimming background you’d most likely consider yourself a Level 2 or Level 3 swimmer. Level 2 swimmers are looking for a wetsuit that will enhance their speed without breaking the bank.
o Orca: Orca Sonar Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Comp1 Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 First Wave Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 First Wave Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

- Level 3: A.k.a. Speed Seeker. If you’re looking for the fastest wetsuit with the newest technology then I consider you a Speed Seeker. If you’re looking for every little edge and don’t mind spending a little more for the top of the line wetsuit then you are Level 3.
o Orca: Orca Apex Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o 2XU: 2XU Men's Elite Triathlon Wetsuit for Men and Women
o De Soto: De Soto T1 First Wave Pullover Triathlon Wetsuit, De Soto T1 First Wave Bibjohn Triathlon Wetsuit

Step 3 – Determining the right wetsuit for you.

At this point you’ve narrowed down your price point but which wetsuit should you purchase? The best way to find the right suit for you is to try on all the wetsuits that you are considering. However, if you don’t have this option; then try to stick to the manufacturer’s suggestions as closely as possible. Here are some things to consider when trying on or selecting the right wetsuit:
- Proper Fit: When selecting a wetsuit you’ll want to make sure that it is not loose and fit you well between your crotch and shoulders. Arm and leg lengths will vary and is ok if they are shorter. In fact a shorter leg may allow for quicker removal of the suit. Also, look out for a good neck and wrist seal so water doesn’t flow into the suit. To increase speed you don’t want your triathlon wetsuit to take in water and slow you down. Be sure to note the arm and shoulder reach for a wetsuit. This area is most important to make sure you have an unrestricted swim stroke.
- Material and thickness: Most wetsuits will vary in thickness (2mm-5mm) and stretch ability throughout. You’ll want thinner and generally more flexible material around your shoulder and arms where you will be moving most. You’ll want thicker material in the chest and leg area’s to help with float. The various brands will for the most part offer the same type of rubber/neoprene for the price ranges. If you’d like to learn more about the differences in rubber check out this article.
- Other considerations:
o Sleeved or Sleeveless: This is mostly up to personal preference but some would argue that sleeveless arms allow for freer arm movement thus a faster suit. A bigger consideration for sleeved versus sleeveless would be temperature. You’ll see more sleeveless suits in warmer waters.
o Special Features: Specially coated rubber, break away zippers, reverse zippers, special panels, etc… There are a lot of features to consider and again these are personal preference. Once you’ve determined that a fit is good the rest is up to you.
o Looks: This has nothing to do with function but I mention it because I consider the “cool” factor of any gear I purchase. If nothing else I must feel comfortable in what I wear and that plays a psychological role in my purchasing decision.

Step 4 – Buying the best triathlon wetsuit for you.

A triathlon wetsuit is not a trivial purchase but it is one that will make difference in your race. So when you are purchasing make sure you get it from a source that will assist you after your purchase to make sure you have the right suit. If you purchase online you’ll want a policy like that allows you to exchange the suit for another if it doesn’t fit.

If you are brand new to wetsuits try on a friend’s or find a rental company if possible. Unfortunately wetsuit rental locations are designed for “trying-on” wetsuits so you won’t have a large selection. However some stores offer rentals of specific brands and you may want to rent it first if it’s the specific model you are considering.

More Information
If you’d like to find out more about triathlon wetsuits here are more Resources: – Guide to Wetsuits - Buying a Triathlon Wetsuit for the Swim Leg of a Triathlon – How to care for your De Soto wetsuit

Created: 9/1/06
Updated: 7/27/09 - added link to buying guided
Update: 3/20/11 - added verbiage to say triathlon wetsuit buying guide updated every year

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bring your Bike on the Metrolink

I recently started taking the train to work so I can train and save on gas. My point here is that riding to work is a good option to get in time on the bike. Some of you may not ride to work because it's too far or takes too long. I fell into this category but riding to the train station to and from work cut back the distance. It does take me longer to get to and from work (about 30-45 mins longer) however I feel the time spent here is better than the 1-2 hours I'd be spending later to do a bike workout. So try riding to work someday and look into the Metrolink as an option if you had the concerns I did. For those who don't already know the Los Angeles / Orange County Metrolink system has really grown over the past few years. Check out their website to see all the stops.

Here's a picture of my bike on the Metrolink. There are 2 open spaces per car on each train. So far I've never run into an issue where I didn't have space for my bike.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ride with a group

I recently started riding with the New Century MS150 training group. It's a great way to get in my cycling training. So far I've enjoyed it because there are both people faster and slower than me. Here are some of the benefits to cycling with a group:
- Riding with faster guys gives me something to push towards.
- Luckily I was with the group when I got a flat because my replacement was also flat. Thanks Pat for the good tube.
- I get to learn more about cycling being around more experienced cyclists.
- I get to train with my wife so she doesn't continue to blow me away on the bike.
- It's fun.
- There are plenty of other reasons why riding with a group is beneficial. I suggest you go out and try it to find out for yourself.

Pictured left to right: Sean O'Leary, Jaweed Bari, David Alvarez, Pat Jesson, Peggy, Phil Thomas, Eric Millspaugh