For some of us, triathlons present an exciting opportunity to measure our fitness. For others, triathlons are a challenge we would prefer not to undertake! Here at the Y, we know that no matter which side you’re on, triathlon training can hold big benefits for your workout routine.
What is a triathlon?
Triathlons are athletic competitions that traditionally consist of swimming, biking, and running (in that order). While triathlon training is designed to test athletes’ endurance, you won’t need to swim, bike, or run for hours to reap the benefits of this type of combination workout.
Why train in three ways instead of one?
Most athletes of any sport turn to running for at least part of their training routine. Similarly, runners often turn to swimming or biking for their cross-training days. Cross-training is a way to mix up your workout and can help strengthen different muscle groups, rest overworked muscles, and reduce injury. Rather than repeating a similar workout each day, rotate the muscle groups you work out to avoid overuse and fatigue.
Who should cross-train?
We think everyone should consider cross-training, but runners have the most to gain from it. Swimming is particularly useful as cross-training for runners, due to the no-impact, zero-resistance aspect of exercising in water. Biking offers an easy way to increase your heart rate while strengthening muscles, but without the harsh impact that running has on your joints. Especially for athletes who have experienced overuse injuries in the past, rotating the type of exercise you perform can help prevent these injuries from occurring again in the future.
How should I do it?
Take advantage of all three triathlon activities (swimming, biking, and running) to fully cross-train your body. Try short bursts of each activity in quick succession (like a mini-triathlon), or alternate days of full workouts dedicated to each. Some athletes prefer to use one activity to warm up, another for the bulk of their exercise, and a third activity to cool down afterwards. No matter what combination, find out what works best for you!
Of course, always be sure your doctor has cleared you for these types of cardio exercise before starting any new workout routine.
Learn more, do more
Visit your closest YMCA location to learn more about open swim hours, group fitness classes, and available workout equipment, like elliptical machines and stationary bikes. Drop in to try out RPM and Sprint, our free cycling courses open to all members. For a different type of cardio workout altogether, check out Insanity. Various YMCA locations even host their own indoor triathlon training for athletes of all ages!