Is there something you’d like to see added to our site? We’re always looking for ways to help support the triathlon community. Please let us know what information of services you’d benefit from, we’ll do our best to offer it in the future. When we do, you’ll be the first to know. We appreciate your time to help us serve you better!
Here are some common terms and definitions used when referring to triathlons:
Aerobic means with oxygen and refers to the use of oxygen in the body’s energy production process. Aerobic exercise is moderate in intensity and performed over long periods of time.
• Age Groupers-
The term age grouper refers to triathletes in the racing community who do not hold professional or elite status. In race events, age groupers will compete among racers in their age groups, which are typically divided up into five year ranges.
Anaerobic means without oxygen and refers to the ability of the body to perform at a high intensity where oxygen is in short supply. Anaerobic exercise is done in short duration at a high intensity level.
Aerobars are extensions on the bicycle’s handlebar that allow cyclists to position their body in a more aerodynamic form.
• Anti-fog Solution-
Anti-fog solutions are designed to prevent goggle lenses from fogging up during the swim portion of a race.
• Body Marking-
Body marking happens during race check-in. It is when information such as race number and age are written on athlete’s upper-arms and calves to assist race officials during an event.
An athlete who has “bonked” has reached the point where they can go no further. Fatigue has taken over and exhaustion has set in.
Workouts where a bike ride is immediately followed by a run.
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body exceeds the amount of water being taken in. Due to the high intensity of activity performed during a triathlon, risks for dehydration increase. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Replenishing liquids during the race is key to preventing dehydration.
• Disqualification (DQ)-
Disqualification is the harshest penalty that can be handed down to a racer. Disqualified racers are deprived the ability to compete in or win a race due a violation of the rules.
Drafting can occur during the cycling leg of a triathlon. Drafting is the event where two or more cyclists ride close together in an effort to reduce wind resistance. Drafting is usually illegal in most races.
• Draft Zone-
Per USAT rules, the draft zone is defined as “…a rectangular area seven meters long and two meters wide surrounding each bicycle. The longer sides of the zone begin at the leading edge of the front wheel and run backward parallel to the bicycle; the front wheel divides the short side of the zone into two equal parts.”
Electrolytes are nutrients in the body which are critical for organ functioning. These nutrients include: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphate.
Elite triathletes are triathletes who are experienced, highly competitive, and meet the series of qualifications of the particular race sanctioning committee. Elite triathletes can also be referred to as professional triathletes, and often times have their own wave during competitions.
• Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)-
A heart rate monitor is a device that can be used during activity that records/displays your current heart rate. Heart rate monitors are vital to tracking your target heart rate during exercise.
Hydration is simply the act of providing adequate water to the body. Hydration is an important element of triathlon racing as well as other endurance sports due to the high intensity of the activity involved.
Hyponatremia is a condition in which there is an electrolyte imbalance in the body. Sodium levels in the blood stream can severely drop to when athletes drink excessive water amounts after prolonged physical activity.
• International Triathlon Union (ITU)-
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in 1989 in Avignon, France, the site of the first official world championships. The primary race of the ITU is the Olympic distance race. The ITU sanctions and organizes a World Cup series of these races every year, culminating in an annual World Championship for elite pro-triathletes, junior pro-triathletes and amateur athletes in 5-year age-groups.
• Lactate Threshold (LT)-
During exercise, lactic acid is produced by muscles. Lactate threshold is the point at which more lactic acid is produced than the body is able to process. At this point lactic acid begins to build up in the blood stream. Lactate threshold is an important measure for endurance sports and can be greatly increased with training.
• Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)-
Maximum heart rate is highest number of times a heart can contract in the span of one minute. It should not be confused with target heart rate, as it is one of the values used to determine an individual’s target heart rate.
Pronation is when a person places more of their body weight on the inside part of the foot when walking/running.
Supination is when a person places more of their body weight on the outside part of the foot when walking/running.
• Swim Aids-
Swim aids are devices used during swim training to improve strength and form. They include: fins, paddles, kickboards, and pull buoys.
• Swim Cap-
A swim cap is a latex cap that is worn on the head of swimmers to reduce drag caused by hair. Swim caps are sometimes color coded in order to identify age groups or different starting waves during a triathlon.
• Target Heart Rate-
Target heart rate is a range of rates that are safe to stay in during periods of exercise. The target heart rate is calculated using your age and percentages of your max heart rate.
• Transition 1 (T1)-
T1 is the period between the swim and the bike portions of the triathlon. During this stage, triathletes switch from their swim gear into their cycling gear.
• Transition 2 (T2)-
T2 is the period between the bike and run portions of the triathlon. During this stage, triathletes switch from their cycling gear into their running gear.
• Transition 3 (T3)-
The post-race party/activities is sometimes referred to as the third transition. During this stage, triathletes switch from race mode to celebration mode.
• USA Triathlon (USAT)-
USA Triathlon (USAT) is the national governing body for triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon, of which it sanctions more than 2000 races each year. The USAT formed in 1982 when the U.S. Triathlon Association and the American Triathlon Association merged. Original membership was only about 1500. In just 25 years, membership has grown to more than 100,000 making it the largest multisport organization in the world.
• VO2 Max
VO2 Max is the measurement of the highest volume of oxygen an individual can utilize during exercise. VO2 Max is often used as a fitness level indicator for endurance athletes. VO2 Max may be used interchangeably with the following terms: maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, aerobic capacity, and aerobic power.
A group of triathletes starting a race. Waves are often staggered and organized by age group and sex.
• World Triathlon Corporation (WTC)-
The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) was founded in 1990 and organizes, licenses, and promotes the Ironman Triathlon Series, culminating each year with the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships. Although the Ironman races are not recognized by the ITU as official world championships, the Hawaii Ironman race is considered by most to be the most prestigious event in the world.
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Rate of Perceived Exertion
One of the easiest ways to monitor your exercise intensity is to rate your perceived exertion (RPE). Below is a chart that describes your RPE in relation to heart rate zones.
Zone 1: Recovery
Zone 2: Extensive endurance
Zone 3: Intensive endurance/muscular endurance
Zone 4: Sub-threshold
Zone 5a: Threshold
Zone 5b: Super-threshold
Zone 5c: VO2 Max
Moderate effort “conversational pace”
Somewhat hard effort
Very hard effort
Very, very hard “max effort “
1. In consideration of being allowed to participate in the personal fitness training activities and programs
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In the presence of oxygen; aerobic metabolism utilizes oxygen. Below the anaerobic-intensity level.
Literally, “without oxygen.” Exercise that demands more oxygen than the heart and lungs can supply. The intensity of exercise performed above the lactate threshold.
The ability resulting from the combination of speed and endurance allowing the athlete to maintain a high speed for an extended period of time while anaerobic.
• Anatomical Adaptation/AA Strength Phase-
This is the initial phase of strength training that usually occurs in the late fall or early winter during the Preparation period. Its purpose is to prepare the muscles and tendons for the greater loads of the maximum strength (MS) phase.
• Annual Training Plan/ATP-
The purpose of an annual training plan is to develop a useful and dynamic guide for your training which will allow you to reach your fitness goals. The ATP includes: season goals, supporting objectives, annual training hours, races and events prioritized (A, B, C), training periods, weekly hours, weekly abilities to be emphasized.
• Base Period-
The period during which the basic abilities of endurance, speed and force are emphasized.
• BT/BreakThrough Workout-
A workout intended to cause a significant, positive, adaptive response. These workouts can take 24+ hours to recover from. Take extra caution with these workouts.
• Build Period-
The specific preparation mesocycle during which high-intensity training in the form of muscular-endurance, anaerobic-endurance and power are emphasized, force and speed are maintained.
Revolutions or cycles per minute of the swim stroke, pedal stroke or running stride.
• Calendar Companion-
The Calendar Companion is a tool in your TrainingPeaks 3.0 Account that allows you to customize the view of your calendar, such as by viewing two calendars side by side or viewing the Calendar view simultaneously with the Dashboard view.
• Critical Power/CP-
The average power a cyclist can maintain for any given duration of time. Critical power can be used as a parameter for training intensity once a rider’s CP zones are determined by completing CP field tests. CP zones are expressed as CP followed by the time duration in minutes. Typical CP durations are CP.2 (12-seconds), CP1 (one-minute), CP6, CP12, CP30, CP60, CP90, and CP180.
• Cross Training-
Training for more than one sport during the same period of time.
The Dashboard view in your TrainingPeaks 3.0 Account displays summary pods of various metrics associated with your training and nutrition over a given time period.
The ability to persist, to resist fatigue.
The strength evident in a muscle or muscle group while exerting against a resistance.
• Form Sprints-
Sprints meant for form not for absolute speed. Do these with a tail wind or slight downhill. Each sprint lasts about 15 seconds with five-minute recoveries. heart rate is not an accurate gauge. Stand for 10 seconds smooth on the pedals building leg strength followed by 5 seconds seated maintaining a high cadence.
The number of times per week that one trains.
• Heart Rate Training Zones-
The Heart rate training zones used on TrainingPeaks.com are based on the athlete’s lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). Once the LTHR is determined the five zones can be created by using the “HR & Power Zones” page calculator found under the Home page. Here is a short description of each zone:
3-Intensive endurance/muscular endurance
On drop handlebars, the covers of the brake handles.
The qualitative element of training referring to effort, velocity, maximum strength and power.
• Interval Training-
A system of high-intensity work marked by short, but regularly repeated periods of hard exercise interspersed with periods of recovery.
• Isolated Leg Training (ILT)-
Pedaling with one leg to improve technique.
• Lactate threshold (LT)-
The point during exercise of increasing intensity at which blood lactate begins to accumulate above resting levels. Also known as anaerobic threshold.
Formed when lactic acid from the muscles enters the blood stream.
• Lactic Acid-
A by-product of the lactic acid system resulting from the incomplete breakdown of glucose (sugar) in the production of energy.
The large category of food, which can be broken down into carbohydrates, fat, protein, and fiber.
To push a big gear.
• MS/Max Strength Phase-
The purpose of this phase of strength training is to improve force generation and the ability to teach the central nervous system to easily recruit high numbers of muscle fibers.
A period of training generally two to six weeks long.
A period of training of approximately one week.
• Muscular Endurance/ ME-
The ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated contractions for a long period of time while bearing a load.
Training above the work load that would produce overtraining if continued long enough.
Extreme fatigue, both physical and mental, caused by extensively training at a work load higher than that to which the body can readily adapt.
• Peak Period-
The mesocycle during which volume of training is reduced and intensity is proportionally increased allowing the athlete to reach high levels of fitness.
The process of structuring training into periods (Preparation, Base, Build, Race and Transition).
In your TrainingPeaks.com online account, “Pods” are segmented compartments containing information, data, charts, and reports, which are used to organize your Dashboard, Nutrition, and Workout Details views.
The ability resulting from force and speed.
• Power Endurance/ PE-
The purpose of this strength phase is to develop the capacity to quickly recruit most of the fibers for a movement, and to sustain their use at a high power output.
• Preparation (Prep) Period-
The mesocycle during which the athlete begins to train for the oncoming season; usually marked by the use of cross-training and low loads.
• Race Period-
The mesocycle during which the work load is greatly decreased allowing the athlete to compete in high-priority races.
• Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)-
A subjective assessment of how hard one is working.
• Recovery Interval-
The relief period between work intervals within an interval workout.
A period of training when rest is emphasized.
• Repetition Maximum (RM)-
The maximum load that a muscle group can lift in one attempt. Also called “one-repetition maximum” (1RM).
The number of times a task, such as a work interval or lifting of a weight, is repeated.
A group of repetitions.
• SM/Strength Maintenance Phase-
This weight lifting phase maintains the basic strength established in the previous phases of strength training.
• Specificity, Principle Of-
The theory that training must stress the systems critical for optimal performance in order to achieve the desired training adaptations.
Within the context of this site, the ability to move the body in ways that produce optimum performance. For example, the ability to turn the cranks quickly on the bike.
Counting your strides to ensure a certain stride count during a speed/skill development workout is quite common to develop better running posture and economy. A workout may say to count your strides (right or left foot) for a count of 20 seconds and have a goal of 30 strides within the 20 seconds.
• Swim Pace Zones-
Monitoring swim heart rate is not simple since chest straps tend to slip down while swimming. For this reason few swimmers use them. Counting beats at the end of a set is not very helpful either since the heart rate drops so fast in fit swimmers. Studies have also shown this to be a very inaccurate gauge of effort. The best way to gauge effort in swimming is by pace. Record swim pace zones based on a 1000m/y time trial. This is explained and a chart is shown in “The Triathlete’s Training Bible” on pages 44-45.
A reduction in training volume prior to a major competition.
The portion of the handlebar closest to the stem.
• Training Zone-
A level of intensity based on a percentage of some measure, such as heart rate or power, of the individual’s capacity for work.
• Transition Period-
The mesocycle during which the work load and structure of training are greatly reduced allowing physical and psychological recovery from training and racing.
• Ventilatory Threshold (VT)-
The point during increasing exertion at which breathing first becomes labored. Closely corresponds with lactate threshold.
The capacity for oxygen consumption by the body during maximal exertion, also known as aerobic capacity and maximal oxygen consumption. Usually expressed as liters of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
A quantitative element of training, such as miles or hours of training within a given time. The combination of duration and frequency.
• Warm Up-
The period of gradually increasing intensity of exercise at the start of a training session.
Measured stress applied in training through the combination of frequency, intensity, and duration.
• Course Designated Distance-
(length of pool) for swimming competition. (Ie) Long Course = 50 meters / Short Course = 25 yards or 25 meters.
The international, rules making organization, for the sport of swimming.
Large rubber fin type devices that fit on a swimmers feet. Used in swim practice, not competition
Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall
Individual Medley. A swimming event using all 4 of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. Equal distances must be swam of each stroke. Distances offered: 100 yds, 200 yds/mtr, 400 yds/mtr.
A specific elapsed time for swimming or rest used during swim practice.
The leg movements of a swimmer. A popular word to “yell” to encourage swimmers during a race.
• Kick Board-
A flotation device used by swimmers during practice. A lightweight object used with great accuracy by coaches
One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course
The extent of the competitive course from end to end. See lap.
• Long Course-
A 50 meter pool
The measurement of the length of a swimming pool that was built per specs using the metric system. Long course meters is 50 meters, short course meters is 25 meters.
The slang referring to the 1500 meter or the 1650 yard freestyle, both of which are slightly short of a mile.
The sum of the processes by which a swimmer takes in and utilizes food substances.
Large 3/4 length fur lined coats worn by swimmers. Usually are in team colors with logo or team name.
• Pace Clock-
The large clocks with highly visible numbers and second hands, positioned at the ends or sides of a swimming pool so the swimmers can read their times during warmups or swim practice.
Colored plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim practice.
The facility in which swimming competition is conducted.
The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage can be calculated for each practice session
A drill is used to break down parts of a stroke in order to emphasize certain aspect of the body’s movements. Drills maybe used to learn a new stroke or strengthen certain areas of a stroke.
Variation of Tarzan/waterpolo drill where the water level is just below goggles/eye line. Used to help get a feel for body position in the water.
• Alternate Breathing-
Breathing on different sides of the body on an odd stroke count. Example: breathing every 3rd stroke or 5th stroke, will enable a swimmer to breath once to the left side then to the right side. Alternate breathing balances out the body roll during each stroke.
• Catch Up-
Hand A stays over the head in a stretched out position while hand B goes through the entire stroke, returns to touch hand A, Hand B becomes stationary while hand A goes through the entire stroke and returns to touch hand B. Repeat until length is complete. Flutter kick is used during the stroke. In short: One hand catches up to the other before the next stroke is taken.
• Drag Your Finger Tips-
On the recovery portion of the stroke (where the arm and hand is out of the water) the fingertips of the hand should drag across the surface of the water until arm is fully extended. This works on high elbows.
Form a fist with hands while swimming Freestyle. Works on using forearms, high elbows underwater and forces swimmers to kick!
(Not on a heart monitor). Pretend your thumb is a red marker. On the recovery portion of Freestyle drag the red marker (your thumb) up the side of your body, from thigh to arm pit. Emphasizes pulling all the way through stroke to touch thigh and works on high elbows during recovery.
A waving motion under the water (someone is not trying to flirt with you) with the hands that helps propel the body and adds lift to the stroke. Helps with wrist strength and flexibility.
Freestyle with the head and mouth totally out of the water. Used to strengthen shoulders and emphasize kick.
• 1 Arm Only-
Arm A stays over the head while pulling is done only with arm B. Flutter kick used throughout stroke. Variation: arm A stays at side while arm B pulls, allowing maximum body roll through strokes.
• 6 beat kick-
Kick six times per arm stroke. Number of kicks can be altered to emphasize continuous kick and/or lengthen time between arm strokes.
Increasing in effort or speed within a specified distance.
Swim each distance faster within a given set as the set progresses, usually on the same time interval. Typically, you begin at an easy pace and progress to a faster one by the end of the set. Your actual swim time “descends”, giving you more rest time in the allotted interval.
• Fast Average-
Within a set, each given distance is fast (in time). The goal is to maintain each distance consistently fast.
A specific time period to complete a specified distance. e.g. A set of ten 50 meter swims on a 1:30 (one minute and thirty seconds) interval means that you must complete each swim in less than 1:30. If you complete your 50 meters in 50 seconds, then you have forty seconds to rest before your next swim. Most people feel that if you are going to gain the greatest physical benefit from swimming, you have to incorporate intervals into your workout.
• Negative Split-
For any given distance, the second half is faster (in time) than the first half.
• On the Top/On the Bottom-
An expression used to signal when a group will be starting a distance or set: Top meaning, top of the pace clock (the 60), bottom meaning bottom of the pace clock (the 30).
• Pace Clock-
Either a large analog clock with a sixty second hand or a digital clock displaying minutes and seconds, usually on the deck or wall of a swimming pool.
• Rest Interval-
The time between completing one distance and beginning another distance.
A number of repeated swims at specified distances with a stated rest interval between each swim.
A pattern of reduced, but high intensity, yardage leading up to an important meet. Early taper workouts may feel just like regular workouts, but at the end of a taper, a workout may be a warm-up, and a few sprints, and warm-down.
• Warm-Up, Warm-Down-
The beginning (warm-up) or ending (warm-down) section of a practice where the effort is not on speed or distance but rather to gently familiarize the body to exercise. Very important pieces of any workout as it assists in preventing injury.