ChiliTri and Triathlon Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below is a list of frequently asked questions for ChiliTri, Triathlon and IRONMAN triathlon races. If you can't find the answer to your question please get in touch and we will help with any triathlon, training plan, coaching or camps questions. You can try a FREE S&C training plan.

Download your FREE 16 week Sprint Training Plan for Beginners.

ChiliTri Coaching Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why choose an online training plan from us?

  • No more guesswork with research-based workouts 
  • Email the coach whenever you need help 
  • Training zones to help you train at the optimal intensity 
  • Structured training & recovery with gradual progression 
  • Export workouts to your device & follow in real time 
  • Workouts designed to fit around your lifestyle.

What will that mean for me?

  • You will feel confident in every training session 
  • You will feel motivated to tick off workouts 
  • You will still have time for your job, family & friends 
  • You will be fitter, healthier, happier & race faster!
  • You get the flexibility to choose from TrainingPeaks, Final Surge or our own Training Tilt App

Should I use an online training plan?

Our online training plans are for athletes who don’t feel the need for a personal coach, but who still want the structure and planning of an expertly-written training program. Research has shown that you are twice as likely to reach your goals if you train with a structured plan.

Training with our plans provides you with motivation, structure, progression and recovery. These are essential ingredients for success in all endurance events, helping you optimize your precious time and talent.

Who designs your training plan?

They are written by Level 3 British Triathlon, Spanish Federation and Ironman Certified Coach Karen Parnell, who has designed hundreds of expert features and training plans for athletes around the world. 

Email support is provided if you have any questions about your training plan. She is also a British Triathlon Tutor helping to develop the next generation of coaches. She writes for TriRadar, TRI247, Outdoor Swimmer and Trinewbies. 

How fit do I need to be?

Our triathlon training plans cater for beginner, intermediate and advanced athletes. The minimal requirement for our beginner plans is you can slowly swim 400 metres, cycle for 30 minutes and run for 20 minutes. But not all on the same day (yet!).

Our training plans ease you in gently. The longer the plan you choose, the more gently it eases you in and the more you’ll grow your fitness over time.

Our running plans are for various levels from couch to 5k to advanced marathon and ultra marathon plans

Can I adjust the plans to suit my needs?

Yes you can! Our training plans allow you to easily swap a few days around each week to suit your availability. Or you can swap out a session, to attend a similar group workout instead. 

If you opt for TrainingPeaks Premium (from $9.92 per month) you can even drag & drop your workouts onto different days.  

If you use Final Surge their athlete premium plan is free. 

Training Tilt is also free to use.

The key to effective training is however consistency. If you miss a session don't try to catch up just move to the next session and take the extra rest. Catching up can lead to over-training.

Do you use 80/20, MAF, CSS or Stryd techniques?

We have plans to suit any methodology you prefer from standard periodized to 80/20 principles and MAF heat rate sessions. You can choose to train with FTP on the bike and Stryd running with power. In some of our plans we have swimming session based on CSS so you can use your Finis Tempo Trainer. We include the latest training techniques in our plans so you know you will optimise your performance for whatever event you are training for.

Can I use Apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Fulgaz, Rouvy, Garmin, Strava with the plans?

All of our plans can be use with training Apps and work with Garmin Connect, Strava. So you can train inside our outside the way you like to train on the Apps you already have. TrainingPeaks and Final Surge can sync to most commercially available training devices including Garmin, SRM, Stages, Suunto, Apple and Polar.

Do you offer 121 coaching options?

Coach Karen can write bespoke plans for all distances to meet your home and work life, time you have to train, race goals and the way you like to train. This can include HRV, Yoga, Pilates, Strength training, nutrition guidance and weekly calls. These plans are delivered via Training Peaks, Final Surge or Training Tilt. Karen coaches all levels of athlete from beginner to those representing their country at events. Learn more about 121 coaching.

Can I be coached face to face on Training Camps?

At ChiliTri we have daily training sessions at our facility in Southern Spain. If you would like face to face training you can visit and stay in one of our rooms and swim in the Endless Pool, training in the gym and bike and run in the Andalusian countryside and roadways. Learn more about our facilities.

Do I need to use gadgets or special gear to train?

Whether you’re a techno-phobe or a gadget-lover, our training plans will suit you. We provide you with a set of five training zones to ensure you train at the right level no matter what gadgets you have. 

​You can train by “feel” or RPE alone if you like. Whereas if you have a cycle power meter, Stryd running power meter, a GPS running watch or a heart rate monitor, we can use them to ensure you perform your workouts at the right intensities.

​You can also export your workouts to your Garmin watch or training software like or TrainerRoad. Then simply follow your workouts in real-time.  

Can I still do fitness classes or group training sessions?

While it’s good to follow a training plan to the letter, we also promote the benefits of group training too. Training with others is fun and it can push you to a higher level. We therefore recommend doing one or two group-workouts per week, particularly swims where you’ll benefit from technique coaching.

Use your common sense to swap one of the workouts in the training plan for a similar type of group workout. For example, you might swap one of our speed running sessions for a group track running workout. Or a long steady ride for a similar group workout.

Triathlon Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the typical triathlon distances?

  • Ironman: 2.4 mile swim (3.8k), 112 mile (180k) bike, 26.2 mile (42.2k) run (marathon)
  • Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim (1.9k) , 56 mile (90k) bike, 13.1 mile (21.1k) mile run (half marathon) 
  • Olympic, Standard or 5150 Distance: 1500 meter (0.93 mile) swim, 40k (24.8 mile) bike, 10k (6.2 mile) run
  • Sprint Distance: usually about one half of an Olympic Distance race so typically a 400m pool swim, 20k bike and 5k run
  •  Super Sprint Distance: Usually about one-quarter of an Olympic Distance Race but can vary and usually a pool swim

Can anyone finish a triathlon?

Yes, you can! If you’re reading this, the chances are you are mentally on the way to finishing your first triathlon. You’re interested in fitness, in endurance and fitness. As long as you pick a triathlon that is suited realistically to your abilities, you can finish.What you really need, ultimately, is to want it bad enough. If you do, you will. Note: before you start training see your doctor before attempting anything related to endurance training and racing.

What triathlon distance is right for me?

This depends on how you level in the water. You can probably ride or run (or walk) the distance in longer events. But don’t put yourself in the water for a longer distance than you can handle. If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider a super sprint distance, with roughly a 375 meter swim (equal to about 13 lengths in a pool) in shallow water. A Sprint race doubles that to 750 meters, and an Olympic Distance race covers nearly a mile in the water. My first triathlon was a pool based Sprint triathlon that started with a 400m pool swim. This enable me to learn about transitions etc and I then moved to a sprint distance with a 750m lake swim.

Do I need to have a strong background in one of the events?

Not necessarily. While you will encounter athletes who swam in high school meets or ran cross-country, many new triathletes are approaching these events for the first time.I would have done a triathlon earlier, but I don’t like to swim. I envy those who glide through the water like a fish, speeding their way through the first leg of a triathlon with ease. For me and many others, the swim can be a challenge, but early on I told myself that part of triathlon is about encountering challenges and overcoming them. I’m not the best swimmer, but when I exit the water in a triathlon, it’s a small victory each time.

What is transition?

Transition refers to the area where you transition from swimming to cycling to running during the event. It's where you put your swimming kit after the swim and pick up your helmet, bike and bike shoes for your bike and then when you finish the bike section leave your bike, helmet and other bike kit then change in to running shoes for the run. You usually have an assigned area so you need to always put your kit in this area. Transition is also the term used for the time it takes to complete swim to bike or transition 1 or T1 and the time it takes to complete the bike to run or transition 2 or T2.

Do I need to wear a trisuit for my first triathlon?

You first triathlon is likely to be a sprint or super sprint and may even be swimming pool based so you may want to use a swimsuit and then put on cycling shorts and t-shirt for the bike and running kit for the run. It's not necessary to have a trisuit for your first event and wear what you found comfortable during your training sessions. But do remember there is no nudity in transition so make sure if you do want to change into cycling and running gear don't strip off! This may require planning and practice before the event to work out what is going to work for you.

Do I need to train many, many hours a week?

The you need to train is dependant on your target race distance and your race goals. For a Sprint triathlon you could train for 5-6 hours a week and for an IRONMAN 70.3 you will be looking at 8-10 and for the full IRONMAN upwards of 12 hours a week with professionals spending 30 hours.

Can a training log or training plan be useful?

Training logs or plans can be very motivational and keep you on track with your training. Without a structured plan you may be progressing too fast and you could start to over train or even get injured. You can find free training plans on the internet or low cost plans for use with an App like Final Surge. You can also find books with training plans and tips in.

What is the most important concept in building a training plan?

Most training plans use the concept of periodisation. This is where your training period of say a year (macrocycle) is divided in to manageable chunks (mesocycles) which can be around 4 weeks. Each week is a microcycle.  During your training period you will go through phases such as prep, base, build, peak, race and transition all with different aims and training loads. Usually each four week cycle with have 3 weeks of build and one week of recovery with less volume to allow your muscles to repair and rebuild. You training load needs to be managed to allow for the correct physical adaptations also known as the training effect.

Do I need to buy expensive kit to do a triathlon?

No. You can use kit you already have and for a sprint triathlon with a pool swim you can use a swimming suit, any bike that meet the standards set by the race organisers, and standard running gear. One of my athletes used to use an old Casio sports watch so you don't even need an expensive GPS watch. Some people like to use data to train with so invest in a GPS watch like a Garmin, bike with tri-bars, power meters for cycling and running and many other pieces of technology.

Do I need to buy a wetsuit?

A triathlon wetsuit can cost 150€ to 500€ and more, so it’s a pricey investment. The reasons to get one: help you stay warm in longer swim distances, and the buoyancy will make most amateur swimmers swim better.But a wetsuit is not mandatory for all triathlons, and certainly not needed in the short distance races like Super Sprints, held in water that’s warm or swimming pools. Some triathlon stores will rent wetsuits, and that’s a good idea if you only plan to do one or two triathlons. If you can see yourself staying engaged in triathlon longer, the cost of a wetsuit makes sense. But make sure you try before you buy as brands cut their wetsuits differently. A good open water swimming venue often has many brands you can try to find the one that suits your body shape.

Do I need an expensive bike?

Anything with two wheels in your garage can get you started at no extra cost. I once used a 99€ mountain bike from ToysRus for a sprint triathlon when I was away on business travel. And my bike times in those two triathlons were not all that bad. When I decided to take on longer triathlons, I bit the bullet and bought a mid-range road bike with add on tri-bars which I still have and use on my indoor trainer. If you decide to go longer and into the realms of IRONMAN events then you may find a triathlon bike with built in tri-bars may be a good idea so you can get in to a more aerodynamic position.

How do I stop my wetsuit from chafing and rubbing?

You may experience chafing from your wetsuit if it is new or you are increasing your training distances so it’s advisable to buy a good anti-chafe product like body glide and apply it to your neckline, wrists and ankles. Don´t be tempted to use Vaseline as this is a petroleum-based product and not good for your wetsuit or the environment and can cause your wetsuit to break down.

How do I swim straight?

It’s extremely important to learn to swim straight as if you don’t then you may find you will end up swimming more than 2.4 miles thus losing time and wasting energy. The trick to swimming straight is “sighting”, master this early in your swim training and this will pay dividends come race day. I recommend sighting about every four to eight strokes.

What happens if my triathlon is cancelled?

In these changing times events can get cancelled. If it's an isolated incident you may be able to find an alternative on a similar date and you can adjust your training. If you can't find another event you could do the triathlon with friends or on your own. another great alternative could be to do a virtual event like the ones on the IRONMAN Virtual Club site.

What's it like to complete a triathlon?

When you finish a triathlon  you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and a massive "runners high". Even if things don't go to plan like you have a puncture on the bike leg you will feel brilliant! So good that you may go home and book another! Warning: triathlon is addictive! Not just the race but the training journey

Do you need to swim front crawl or freestyle stroke?

In short no, you can swim any stroke you want as long as you make it to the end of the swim by cut-off time. However in some races backstroke is not permitted in pool swims and any competitor wishing to use backstroke at an open water event must indicate this to the Event Organiser before entering the water. Backstroke in open-water can also lead to some sighting issues and bumping into other competitors. Breaststroke is ok but you may find you get lower back pain in a wetsuit doing this stroke. If you can spend some time learning front crawl if you can as you will be quicker.

Can I use pool goggles in open water?

Yes you can. But open-water-specific goggles do tend to come with larger lenses, which therefore provide better peripheral vision. The other area to consider is the lens colour, to cope with the different lighting conditions outdoors. Also you may find they fog up so using a product like Cressi anti-fog is advisable. It will guarantee a fog free swim and enable you to sight plus its reef safe so wont pollute open water swim venues.

Can I wear something on my feet before the swim?

Yes, you can wear something like flip-flops to the water’s edge. Take an old pair that you don’t mind not seeing again as they may need to be discarded. 

Can I pee in my wetsuit?

Yes, you can pee in your wetsuit and in a triathlon it’s one of the benefits! You can fill up on fluids before the swim and be fully hydrated and pee when you need to. Peeing when swimming and not having to stop is however a skill worth perfecting!

How do you get out of a wetsuit quickly?

This is worth practicing during your training and swim to bike brick sessions. Before the pandemic there were wetsuit “strippers” who would help you out of your wetsuit after the swim. Check your athlete guide to see what help you will get on the day.

The basics are to pull your wetsuit down so that it’s below your knees. Step out of one leg, and tread on the wetsuit to help pull the other leg out. 

Can I swim breaststroke?

You can absolutely do breaststroke in a triathlon. The only stroke that you can’t do in any sort of triathlon is backstroke – for two reasons; firstly, because you can’t see where you’re going, and secondly, because it’s rolling on your back that signifies you may be in danger or at least struggling.

Is there a temperature where it's mandatory to wear a wetsuit?

Ironman triathlon races have a minimum water temperature that athletes will be allowed to wear a wetsuit. The swim portion becomes “Wetsuit Legal” when the water temperature is at or below 76.1F/24.5C. The swim portion becomes “Wetsuit Optional” when water temperatures are between 76.2F/24.55C and 83.8F/28.8C. And, the swim portion becomes “Wetsuits Prohibited” when water temperatures are above 84F/28.8C. These rules may differ for USAT, BTF etc events so it's worth checking the rules in your race pack for race and regional specific rules.

What are the wetsuit rules? Can I use a surfing wetsuit?

A triathlon wetsuit must not be thicker than 5mm. Depending on the temperature of the water and on the country where you will race, a wetsuit might be mandatory, permitted, or forbidden. You could use a surfers wetsuit if its not thicker than 5mm but it is made of different fabric than a swimming wetsuit. Swimming wetsuits give swim buoyancy and have thinner shoulders to allow for swimming strokes.

What is transition and jelly legs?

Transition is the term used when you go from the swim to the bike (T1) and bike to run (T2). It's also the name of the area where you store your bike and other kit for each discipline and complete the transitions. "Jelly legs" is the odd sensation you’ll experience in your legs as you move from one discipline to the next (swim to bike: bike to run) and as your body gets used to using different muscles. Don’t worry – it’ll abate as you settle into your rhythm. It's worth practising this in training with brick sessions.

What are the rules for your helmet in T1?

According to BTF rules: “All competitors must have their helmet securely fastened from the time they remove their bike from the rack before the start of the bike leg, until after they have placed their bike on the rack after the finish of the bike leg.” Failure to do so may result in a time penalty.

What is a Brick session?

A brick session is a training set that involves more than one discipline/sport back-to-back. The most common example in triathlon is the bike/run brick, where a bike session will be followed by a run. You can also do swim to bike bricks or triple bricks or multi-bricks.

How can I work out my Functional Threshold Power (FTP)?

Functional threshold power (FTP) is your maximum sustained effort over a 45-60 min period. You can work it out by performing a 20min bike test  and calculating 95% of your average power output for the ride. You will need a power meter, a smart indoor trainer (or a sophisticated indoor trainer such as a Wattbike) to obtain these results. Read more about FTP.

What’s the difference between clincher and tubular tyres?

The most common is the clincher, which consists of a tyre and an inner tube fitted into the clincher wheel’s rim. Tubs (or tubulars) is a one-piece system where the tube is sewn inside the tyre. You glue this onto the rim of a tubular wheel. You can pump tubs up to a higher pressure than clinchers, which potentially means more speed.

What’s the difference between indoor trainers (turbos) and rollers?

With an indoor trainer or turbo, your bike is attached to it and it may be a smart trainer with power measurement and can be used with Zwift, TrainerRoad etc to simulate riding outside.  Rollers require you to balance on them. Both are ideal indoor trainers.

What cadence should I be averaging on the bike?

Everyone is different, but studies have shown that 90rpm (revolutions per minute) is roughly a good figure to aim for. Having said this, your cadence cadence can be affected by your physiology and bike set-up, among other things. Check you have the correct crank length – if it’s too short this could lower your rpm. Heavier athletes are usually more efficient at lower pedal speeds, whereas lighter riders will often have more slow-twitch muscle fibres that are suited to faster spinning. Triathletes often say 90rpm is best to match your running cadence for when you go from bike to run. However your natural run cadence may be lower than 180 spm (steps per minute) or 90 rpm.

What is a good running Cadence or SPM (steps per minute)?

Cadence – also known as stride rate – is the number of steps a runner takes per minute (SPM). It's the most common metric used to measure running form and remains important for several reasons. The shorter your stride length and the quicker your stride rate, the faster and better you run.The average runner will have a cadence of 150 to 170 SPM (Steps Per Minute), while the fastest long-distance runners are up in the 180 to 200 SPM range. It's worth noting that these numbers are typically maintained in shorter-distance endurance races and full marathons.

I’ve been using energy gels, but I find them really hard to stomach. Are there any alternatives?

There are plenty of alternatives to energy gels from marzipan to jelly babies. But the best bet maybe to go for something made by an energy manufacture, so consider trying Clif Shot Bloks (chewy energy blocks) or Lucozade energy tablets, both of which have different consistencies to gels. You can also make your own.

 I always feel like I’m slacking on rest days. how important are they?

Rest days are absolutely vital to a good training plan. Your body needs time to recover and repair after you push it hard in training. If you don’t allow your body to recover you’ll accumulate fatigue, your performance will drop and you may even end up injured. Make sure you take days off. Learn more about recovery.

IRONMAN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the IRONMAN race distances?

Ironman: 2.4 mile swim (3.8k), 112 mile (180k) bike, 26.2 mile (42.2k) run (marathon)

Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim (1.9k) , 56 mile (90k) bike, 13.1 mile (21.1k) mile run (half marathon) 

In Ironman, what are the rules on outside assistance?

IRONMAN rules state: “Friends, family members, coaches or supporters of any time may not bike, drive or run alongside an athlete, may not pass food or other items to an athlete and should be warned to stay completely clear of all athletes to avoid the disqualification of an athlete”.

How do triathletes go to the loo mid-Ironman?

There will be mobile toilets along the route for rest stops. Or, if you really can’t wait. you can simply pee in your tri-suit. But you might want to consider the official race photographers positioned around the course first. And the poor marshal who takes your bike from you.

What are the rules on completing an IRONMAN?

Most Ironman events allow participants 17 hours to complete all three legs of the race. The event begins at 7 a.m. The swim must be complete in 2 hours and 20 minutes; the bike ride must be done by 5:30 p.m.; and the marathon must be finished by midnight.

Can you draft in an IRONMAN race?

Unlike in biking competitions and shorter triathlon distances – such as the Olympic distance – drafting is strictly forbidden in the Ironman. The Ironman is the ultimate test of an athlete's endurance, and there is zero-tolerance for slipstreaming, because that would give some athletes an unfair advantage.

Can I use a music playing device or mobile phone during an IRONMAN?

Headphones, headsets and audio devices are not allowed at any time during any triathlon event. Two-way communication devices, such as walkie-talkies and cell phones, have long been banned on the race course.

What is the average time to complete an IRONMAN?

The answer, based on an analysis of more than 40,000 finishers in 25 Ironman triathlons: about 12 hours and 35 minutes for the average triathlete. Swim 2.4 miles in 1:16, Bike 112 miles in 6:25, and Run 26.2 miles in 4:54.

Can I use a Road Bike for an IRONMAN?

Even if you're not on a bike specifically designed for triathlon, you can still be successful on the bike leg with your everyday road bike. You may want to add clip on tri-bars so you can get in to an aerodynamic position.

Should I stop at every aid station?

It’s not necessary to stop at every aid station unless you need to re-fuel or have a comfort break. Aid stations vary and can include gels, isotonic drinks, food like bananas, water, ice, cold water sponges and even showers to run through.

Should I use the on-course nutrition and hydration?

It’s always worth checking what’s on the course for your specific race. For IRONMAN® Texas for example there will be Red Bull, Gatorade & Maurten Gels. As early as you can in training get some of the on-course products and try them out. If you don’t like them or they cause you GI issues, then you know you will need to take your nutrition and hydration with you and put more (just in case) in your special needs bag. Whatever you choose to use make sure the product is batch tested and less likely to be contaminated. Check you nutrition, hydration and supplements.

What is a sweat test, and should I do one?

Sweat testing is usually used with athletes to answer two key questions, how much sweat are you losing during exercise? and what are you losing in that sweat so you can replace it to maintain your performance? This is a relatively easy test to perform during training and the results will help provide you with data to help you hydrate properly and safely on race day. Work with your coach to perform the test and find out what it means for you.

How do I fuel for an IRONMAN?

Fuelling for a long-distance triathlon is something worth planning during training so you can formulate your race day nutrition strategy. Work with your coach on what works for you. I recommend starting a minimum of 12-16 weeks out of starting working on your  nutrition plan as you will want to practice in similar weather conditions and race specific prep sessions. 

Do I pee on the bike?

There will be port-a-john toilets along the route for rest stops. Or, if you really can’t wait. you can simply pee in your tri-suit. But you might want to consider the official race photographers positioned around the course first. And the poor marshal who takes your bike from you. If you do pee in your tri suit or shorts then you may find your will chafe which is painful so it’s worth getting off your bike, shaking your legs out and having a proper pee. Try not to take too long though if you want to qualify for Kona!

What is a bike fit and should I get one?

Bike fitting is the process of adjusting a bike for a cyclist to optimize their comfort, performance and efficiency. Cyclists often experience overuse injuries such as cyclist’s palsy, cyclist back, and Anterior Knee Pain. and this is often due to an incorrectly set up cycle. I recommend you get a fit before the start of every season at minimum. The fit will be an ongoing process over the years. Also, if you’re looking to purchase a bike, then I recommend you get a bike fit first with a professional fitter before ever looking at brands. In the long run, this will save you both time, money, and a bit of agony.  

 Getting a bike fit early in your training on your race bike will pay dividends come race day as you will be more comfortable and race more efficiently.

Should I eat in transition?

I like to think of the bike leg as a rolling buffet where your stomach is stationary and your heart rate relatively low. You should try to eat the majority of your race nutrition on the bike. When you get in to transition your heart rate will probably be sky high so not a great time to eat. The general rule of thumb is eat when your heart rate is low. So, concentrate on getting ready for your run, change your shoes, put your number to the front, get your hat and glasses on, re-apply lube to stop you chaffing and get off on your run. Once your heart rate has settled then you can eat if you need to.

Can I wear socks on the run?

Some triathletes start at the sprint distance and move to standard or Olympic distance then to IRONMAN® full distance and always run without socks as they are used to it from the shorter distances. As you know the IRONMAN® run is a full marathon so unless the skin on your feet is like Rhino skin then wear socks! 

I´m worried about cramping on the run, what can I do?

Cramp is a tricky problem to deal with but, although experts

 rarely agree on the science behind it, sufficient sodium intake along with adequate water is often helpful in preventing it during long, hot races. Pacing is also critical, as fatigue often plays a big role in muscles locking up, so don’t get too keen too early if you’re prone to cramping.

Can I walk during the run?

If, during your preparation for the race, you’ve discovered that running the entire 42km of the marathon isn’t possible, don’t force it on race day. The run/walk strategy is a more reliable and effective way to get to the finish line. Run/walking gives you a chance to recover, lessens the stress on your legs, reduces your core body temperature and, perhaps more importantly, gives you a chance to actually enjoy the race atmosphere. The ratio of time (running/walking/running) used in the strategy will vary from athlete to athlete but, like all plans during a race, be flexible with it.

Can I get naked in the changing tent?

Most IRONMAN® races offer separate men’s and women’s changing tents. These typically resemble a locker room at a gym: rows of benches or folding chairs, a few stalls for privacy, and same-sex attendants (in this context, race volunteers) helping to keep things in order. Most change tents also have basic first aid (Vaseline, band aids, tampons, and sunscreen), as well as a bottle fill station.

 In the transition from swim to bike (T1) and bike to run (T2), athletes who wish to change their clothes can run into the change tent and out the other end. Those who wish to wear the same kit to the next leg of their race can bypass this tent altogether or, in some cases, simply run straight through the tent if the transition flow requires it.

 So even though IRONMAN states they do not allow nudity during the event in the changing tents this can happen.

Do I need to practice putting my shoes on whilst riding?

If you have come up from sprint or Olympic distance triathlons you may have practiced flying mounts on to your bike with your shoes clipped into the pedals onto your bike to shave seconds off transition and hence your race. For an IRONMAN® a few seconds will probably not make much difference so unless you are an ace on flying mounts then practicing putting your feet into your shoes on your bike may be a wasted effort if you’re not in contention to qualify for IRONMAN® World Championships. Some IRONMAN® events do not allow you to keep your shoes on the pedals in transition so it’s worth checking the rules for your event. As always the flying mounts and dismounts should be practiced in training. One technique you should master however is to clip in and out of the pedals easily and confidently.

Will I feel dizzy after the swim?

It is not unusual to feel dizzy after you’ve been horizontal for over an hour, the blood drains from your brain and you may get wobbly knees, when you come out of the swim into Transition 1.  Take your time coming out of the water, don’t try to run straight away, rather walk quickly- do lots of deep breathing and pump your leg muscles to get blood to your brain while you adjust to being vertical.  Practice in the pool, do twenty lengths, stand up, and walk around to get used to the feeling of going from horizontal to straight. Also consider doing swim to bike brick sessions during training. Also, towards the end of your swim you can increase your kick. 

Do I need to rinse off salt water?

During training you may swim in the sea in your wetsuit so make sure you always rinse your wetsuit in clean water after and let it air dry. 

On race day some swims are fresh water, and some are salty sea swims. At most events there are showers to run through after your swim. After your race then rinse off your wetsuit in fresh water as you would after a training session and let it air dry. Once dry turn it inside out and put on a hanger and store away from direct sunlight.

When I’m running in zone one, it feels really slow. Is that right?

Yes. Base training is all about keeping your heart rate down and building fitness, not about speed. So, you may well find that you’re running slower than usual but that means you’re doing it correctly! You may need to walk in the beginning to keep your heart rate down, this is normal. The truth is many athletes spend too much time training in the medium grey zone whether they realize it or not. These athletes do not go easy enough on easy recovery days and therefore are not able to push hard enough on the zone 4 + training sessions. 

How many hours can I expect to train during peak training?

This is not a straightforward answer, but generally you can expect to train 15-20 hours a week, especially if you are trying to contend for an IRONMAN® World Championship slot. Hours will vary in particular based on one’s career and family lifestyle and as well as the ability to recover from training.  Some experts claim you can train and do well on less volume but this does not take into account an athlete’s previous background. Some athletes may have a high aerobic base built up from previous years of training. Professional triathletes will train upwards of 25-30+ hours of a week during their peak volume. 

What are the rules on disc brakes and nudity for IRONMAN races?

Following the lead of the International Triathlon Union ITU, who approved the use of disc brakes for competition in 2016, Ironman will allow road and triathlon bikes equipped with disc bikes at all Ironman and 70.3 events.

Cycling and running with a bare chest is still prohibited. All athletes must wear a shirt, jersey or tri top at all times during the cycling and run portions of the race. This year, Ironman clarifies that rule further by following the ITU standard of “uniforms with a front zipper must not be undone below the point of the end of the breastbone (sternum).” Failure to zip up will result in disqualification.

What does a yellow card mean?

If a race official flashes a yellow card at you during the bike, you’ll now have to spend a minute in the penalty tent on the bike, or a minute on the spot on the run course. This is different from before, when yellow card penalties required a quick stop-and-go check-in at the tent—a practice that yielded highly variable penalty times based on the number of athletes serving penalties and the volunteers available to record the athlete’s information. With the new one-minute rule, Ironman is standardizing the penalty time for all athletes.

Grab a copy of our FREE Best Swim Workouts for Open Water Book

This book is packed with open water swim workouts, open water tips, kit suggestions and more. The swim sessions are in open water, swimming pool, techered and dryland. The sessions are desihgned to work on your technique, speed, power and endurance. 

Get it here.


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