Triathlon Glossary

A | B | C | D | F | H | I | K | L | M | O | Q | P | R | S | T | W |


A


Aero bars Padded elbow rests and extensions allowing a rider to lie flatter, reducing arm strain and wind resistance and increasing speed. Also known as tri bars.
Aquabike A swimming stage followed by a biking stage with no run.
Aquathlon A swimming stage followed by a run stage with no cycling stage.
ATPAnnual Training Plan.

B


Bonking Sudden fatigue and energy loss caused by running out of glycogen in the muscles. (See also Wall, the.)
BOP Back of the Pack
Borg scale A method of measuring physical activity on a scale of perceived exertion or how hard you feel your body is working. (See also RPE.)
Bottom Bracket The central axis on which the bicycle cranks rotate.
BPM (beats per minute) A measure of heart rate.
Brick Training session combining two disciplines (e.g. cycling and running) used to simulate race experience and help your body adapt to switching sports quickly.
BTF (British Triathlon Federation) The national governing body for triathlon in Great Britain. BTF members comprise Triathlon England, triathlonscotland and Welsh Triathlon.
Burnout Condition similar to overtraining, caused by doing too much and/or too soon and/or with too little rest

C


Cadence Pedalling speed, measured in RPM (revolutions per minute).
Carbon fibre Strong but light material, from which many (top-end) bikes are now made.
Cassette Gear selection system.
Century A 100-mile bike ride.
Circuit resistance training A circuit of various weights to be completed one or more times with minimal rest between exercises. The emphasis is on endurance rather than power or strength.
Clip-in pedals Designed to securely accommodate special cycling shoes, meaning your feet sit in the most efficient position to transmit power through the pedals.
Criterium Short-course road races with multiple corners taken at high speeds in a pack riding situation.

D


Derailleur A system of variable-ratio gears allowing you to adjust a bike’s gearing and thus your cadence.
Dolphin Dive A technique used to get through shallow water involving doing short, shallow dives until you are deep enough to swim
Drafting The practice of tucking in behind someone else so they take the brunt of the resistance and you get an easier run/swim/bike, sometimes explicitly prohibited in races. Also known as slipstreaming.
Drills Repetitive exercises focusing on technique to promote efficiency. (See also, fingertip drag.)
Duathlon A run-bike-run race (no swim section as in a triathlon).

F


Fingertip drag Time-honoured swimming drill used to promote freestyle arm efficiency.
Frame size Common bike measurement, traditionally taken from the middle of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube.  It’s vital your bike is the right fit as your seating position will affect efficiency, comfort and drag

H


Half-Ironman 1.9K swim; 90K cycle; 21K run. See also, Ironman.
Hybrid A bike somewhere between a mountain bike and a road bike. Good for all-round use.

I


IM Ironman distance (2.4-mile/3.8K swim, 112-mile/180K bike, 26.2-mile/42.2K run) .
Ironman Brand name of global series of triathlon events comprising a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run (marathon).

K


Kick boardA float you grip with your hands in the pool, while your legs do all the work

L


Lactate Threshold The highest level at which your muscles can still convert glycogen to glucose aerobically (i.e. using oxygen). Exercising above this level will soon lead to discomfort as lactic acid (a by-product of the anaerobic process) accumulates in the bloodstream. Training at, or slightly above, this threshold will gradually push it upwards, allowing you to race faster. Also known as Anaerobic Threshold (AT) .
Long, slow distance training (LSD) Exactly what the name implies – essential cardiovascular training foundation for endurance events

M


M. Abbreviation of Ironman, often used in online chat forums.
Marathon A 26.2-mile running race, which constitutes the third part of an Ironman.
Mashing A cycling term indicating pedalling a big gear (53 x 13 or 14) with a slower cadence instead of spinning a smaller gear.
Maximum heart rate (MHR) The maximum rate that your heart can achieve. A rough rule of thumb is 220 minus your age, but a more accurate reading can be gauged in these practical tests.
MTB Mountain Bike.

O


Olympic Distance Triathlon 1.5K swim; 40K cycle; 10K run.
OWS Open Water Swim, for example in the sea or a lake as opposed to in a pool.

P


Paddles Worn on the hands during swim training, they increase your workload meaning you train harder.
Periodisation Carefully planned training schedule, focusing on different training elements in turn and culminating with a specific competitive goal.
Pull Swimming exercise using a float between your feet/legs, leaving only your arms free to pull you through the water.
Pull - Take a pulll Taking a turn to lead, allowing those behind to draft you and follow your pace.

Q


QR Quick release lever that allows bike wheels to be easily removed and replaced for travel.

R


Rider position Wind resistance makes a big difference in the bike leg (see drafting) so make sure you are leaning forward and slicing through the air rather than sitting up like a giant sail.
RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) Means of evaluating how hard you are working, using either a scale of 1-11 or 1-21. The higher the number, the harder you are working. Considered by some to be more useful than measuring heart rate alone.
RPM Revolutions per Minute.
Run or ride belt Waist-mounted belt for carrying snack bars/gels/drinks.

S


Slick tyres Thinner and faster road tyres, favoured by those looking for quicker times.
Sprint A short-distance triathlon. Approximately 400-yard swim, 15-mile bike, 3-mile run.
SPD clips Shimano Pedalling Dynamics clipless pedal system (now a standard term).

T


T1 First transition, where a competitor switches from the swimming stage to the cycling stage
T2Second transition, where a competitor switches from the cycling stage to the running stage
Tempo training Working just below your lactate threshold for an extended period (rather than a short interval). This will raise the threshold, raising the speed at which you can run for long periods
Time-trial bike A serious (and often expensive) racing bike for competitive triathletes.
Toe-clips A clip on a bike pedal that ensures the foot doesn’t sit too far forward. See also, Clip-in pedals.
Transition area The area where the change is made from one sport to the next. It’s important to be able to quickly and efficiently locate your own equipment, and the process of switching sports should be practised to avoid losing hard-earned time.
Tri bike Bike specifically designed to be ridden in an aerodynamic crouched position, with a high saddle and low crossbar.
TT (Time Trial) Usually used in reference to a cycling event.
Turbo (static) trainer A device that holds a bicycle in place, applying resistance to the rear wheel. Used for indoor training.

W


Wall, the The sudden feeling of physical and/or mental fatigue as the body runs out of glycogen and switches to burning fat stores for energy instead
Waves When a race starts in staggered groups (waves) usually separated by gender and age groups.
Wrench A bike mechanic.
WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) The owners of the Ironman trademark.