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Triathletes & Duathletes: 9 Most Common Training & Racing Questions Answered

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

New to Triathlon and Duathlons? It's almost expected that you will have plenty of questions.

Every day, many people ask us via email and our social media pages, "How do I get started in triathlon or multisport racing?" Many athletes (yes, you are an adult athlete - a badass just for reading this triathlon & duathlon training blog) are curious about the type of bicycle required to compete in a triathlon or duathlon race.

Female Triathlete Completing Sisters Super Sprint Triathlon

They ask us things like, "Do they have to do an ironman to be considered a triathlete?" Is there a way to learn how to swim in open water without the possibility of drowning?

Being new to triathlon and lacking access to a training partner, local club or an online Facebook group community makes it even more difficult, as you have no idea where to begin to find answers to these questions.

You can rely on the advice of women on the Swim Bike Run Fun Tri Club team who have completed triathlons, duathlons, and other multisport events and understand the mindset of beginners to guide you down the right path and meet you where you are to help you level up.

That's why we've compiled a list of 9 frequently asked beginner triathlon and duathlon training and racing questions and answers.

9 Most Asked Questions By New Triathletes & Duathletes

What is the distinction between a triathlon and a duathlon?

A: Triathlon is organized in a swim-bike-run format, whereas duathlon is organized in a run-bike-run format. A duathlon may be a good option for you if you're afraid of open water or don't feel comfortable swimming with other athletes.

Do I need to wear underwear with my triathlon or cycling suit?

A: Certainly not! You must wear your triathlon suit commando style, just like your cycling bib shorts. We won't go into specifics here; just trust us on this one. #noangrykitty #rubsburns

Should/Can I pee while riding my bike?

A: It is conditional. Feel free to pee pee if you need to (and are able to while moving); it's perfectly normal for some concern with time performance. Just make sure there's no one nearby that could get splashed.  Some people have difficulty allowing themselves to do it, but when nature calls, you must either ride your bike or stop at the nearest porta potty. 

I'm terrified of open water. How can I feel more at ease?

A: First, you must identify the source of your anxiety. Are you afraid of swimming in a next to other people? Do you have a fear of drowning in the lake? Do you have a fear of the unknown? Remember, if you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to flip over on your back and float for a minute (or simply grab a ref's kayak for a second). Start near the back of the pack to alleviate some of the stress of a mass start. Perfect practice makes perfect, and the more familiar you are with the open water prior to the race, the easier race day will be.

Do I need to wear/buy an aero helmet?

A: The answer is no for sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. The bike leg is too short to justify shelling out hundreds of dollars to save a few seconds. An aero helmet can save you a few minutes on the bike leg of an IRONMAN or 70.3-distance race. If you're truly competitive or looking to set a new personal best, an aero helmet could be the deciding factor. If not, and you're just trying to get through it, save your money.

Can I ride my road bike in a triathlon?

A: Of course! It's a good idea to begin your triathlon journey on a road bike. With so many things to consider, it's critical for new triathletes to use familiar equipment on the course. Feel free to race on an old steel frame road bike you've been training on. 

How can I make it easier to find my bike during transition?

A: Spotting your bike as you run up the ramp while wet is an art in and of itself. When you're ready to rack your bike, look for a visible landmark—a light pole, a sponsor banner, the announcer stage, etc. If nothing else stands out, hang a bright towel or a neon-colored helmet from your aerobars.

How can I make it easier to run off the bike?

A: This is a question that every triathlete has asked themselves at some point. Running off the bike can be a painful 15 minutes or so until you find your legs. The answer is simple: practice, practice, practice. Prepare your shoes in the garage for a mock transition after your long training ride. A shorter stride with more turnover can also help relieve some of the post-bike stress on your legs.

Is it permissible for me to draft on the bike leg?

A: Unless you've specifically registered for a draft-legal race, it's illegal to draft out on the bike course. USAT competitive rules state you must maintain a distance of 7-10 meters (about three bike lengths) between yourself and the athlete in front of you. You can draft for up to 15 seconds while passing an athlete.

Athena Female Triathlete Cycling in Triathlon Race

Summary: 9 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers for New Triathletes & Duathletes

Hope you enjoyed our compiled a list of frequently asked beginner triathlete and duathlete training and racing questions. Our SwimBikeRun Fun Tri Club team members who have completed triathlons, duathlons, and other multisport events and understand the mindset of beginners all contributed in helping us get you the answers you need to get started in triathlon and guide you down the right path to explore multisport racing knowledgeable.

We're here to answer any and all of your questions, so don't be shy about contacting us.


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