Dreaming of an Olympic Gold? Or bored with your usual fitness regime? Get on your bike then, make a splash, or hit the road. Triathlon training could just be the next big thing.
Triathlon is a great sport to keep active, and by taking on the three elements of swimming, cycling and running, you can keep training fun and varied too. The go-to man for more insight into why this is such a great way to stay fit, physically and mentally, is Ahmed Rady. His training programs have fans across the city, and his wealth of experience includes his role as Technical Director of the Special Olympics team. Rady gives us the full breakdown on how triathlon training can improve your fitness regimen
WHAT IS A TRIATHLON
The Triathlon covers swimming, cycling and running challenges, all with various intensities and distances. Each part tests the body in different ways, but the combined effect is all-round fitness, the benefit also comes through being in touch with nature and the great outdoors.
- Super sprint distance: 400m (swim), 10km (bike), 2.5km (run)
- Sprint distance: 750m (swim), 20km (bike), 5km (run)
- Standard (Olympic) distance: 1500m (swim), 40km (bike), 10km (run)
- 3/Middle/Half-Ironman distance: 1.9km (swim), 90km (bike), 21km (run)
- Full/Long/Ironman distance: 3.8km (swim), 180km (bike), 42km (run) – Ironman is a long-distance
SWIMMING: HEALTH & FITNESS BENEFITS
Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise available to us. Of course I will say that, given that I’ve been swimming all my life, but there is no denying the fact that it is one of the only exercises that utilizes all muscle groups while constantly stimulating the heart rate. Swimming is the best sport to increase your core muscles and strengthen the bones and lungs. It keeps blood pressure low and is the highest sport for burning calories per hour. A bonus is that it helps in relieving stress and can improve your flexibility.
CYCLING: HEALTH & FITNESS BENEFITS
Cycling is an activity we’ve loved since childhood, and as bicycles come in many forms and styles, it is suited to all age groups. Cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal. It is good for strength, stamina and aerobic fitness, it decreases stress levels, reduces anxiety and depression. Cycling can be done at a very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.
RUNNING: HEALTH & FITNESS BENEFITS
Running is perfect for anyone who wants a new challenge and is eager to discover new surroundings with family or friends. It is one of the easiest, accessible sports you can do anytime, anywhere. Running helps increase bone mass and increases your heart rate. It improves blood pressure and reduces risk of heart disease, and the chance of dying at an early age.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COMBINE ALL THREE!
All the three sports will strengthen all the muscle groups in your body. Swimming strengthens your upper body while cycling and running help you build lower body strength. You will develop lean muscles, build strength and tone your entire body.
It will make you fitter than you’ve ever been in your life. All three sports also burn huge amounts of fat from every area of your body, helping to sculpt your body. Swimming creates definition in your upper body and improves flexibility, while running develops long and lean muscles, leaving cycling to tone the lower body while building strength
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR STAMINA TO TRIATHLETE LEVELS
You can increase your running level to reach a triathlete level through routine. The best way is to start with a run of 30 minutes a day, and increase your intensity of speed over the 30 minutes. You need to carefully select your running shoes to avoid damaging the joints and risking lower back pain. Go to a reputable sports shoe retailer and give them an idea of your running routine and they can make recommendations. Or just search online for the best running shoe in 2019. Your running shoes should be a quarter to a half size larger than your normal shoe size.
As for cycling, you first need to start with a professional coach to teach you how to ride safely outdoors. Cycling shops in Egypt have professional cycling gear, so you can buy a road bike first before going for a tri bike. The most important thing to ensure you enjoy your cycling training is to invest in cycling shorts with a pad or a seat pad. You could start with indoor cycling sessions at 45 minutes of low intensity and then you can build up with interval training. With outdoor cycling, go for a flat ride of 40 minutes, 4 or 5 times a week.
For the swimming, start with swim gear. A hand paddle-board and small fins can improve your swimming style. Swim for 20 minutes, with generous breaks at each end of the pool. To begin, commit yourself to three times a week, 30 minutes per workout. Try swimming for as much of that time as you can, and count your laps. You should be able to cover anywhere from 20 to 30 laps, at least. If you are capable of doing more, you should be swimming for longer periods of time, perhaps 45 minutes or even an hour. Eventually, you will be able to swim up to an hour, or up to 3,000 meters (two miles). That should be your goal.
TIPS & POINTERS
For me the basic and most important thing is for all triathletes to develop “core muscles”. When the core is perfect you will have no difficulty with all triathlon distances and you should have built up muscular strength to help you to achieve a good time in races while remaining safe from injuries.
And absolutely important, hydration! As triathletes, we need from 8-12 glasses of water per day. At least four hours before a triathlon or other endurance activity, drink 1 ounce of fluid for every 10 pounds of body weight (or 5-7ml/kg) to start the event well-hydrated. Don’t experiment with new beverages before or during a competition. Eat lean protein within 45 minutes of a workout. Fill up on fruits and vegetables, and load a third of your plate with complex carbohydrates. Stoke your metabolism with a good breakfast, hydrate with water and sports drinks and skip fried foods. Beware of energy drinks and energy bars.