How to choose the right distance in triathlon?

Get down to triathlon ? Yes, but what distance Choose ? The French Federation has six:

XS : 400 meters from swimming10 kilometers from cycling and 2.5 km from running (disciplines to be chained in this order)

S : 750 meters of swimming, 20 kilometers of cycling and 5 km of running

M : 1.5 km of swimming, 40 km of cycling and 10 km of running

L : 3 km of swimming, 80 km of cycling and 30 km of running

XL : 4 km of swimming, 120 km of cycling and 30 km of running

XXL : 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42.195 km of running (i.e. a marathon)

“Training for a triathlon is going to take time. We do not prepare for one sport but for three. What protects from monotony, poses Sébastien Pernet, Ironman certified coach. The distance chosen will also depend on the challenge you want to take on. The XS format is for someone who is discovering.

“On weekends, it’s a minimum of 3 hours of cycling. And it can go up to 5, 6”

But he will still have to train at least three times a week, one session for each discipline. The M is the Olympic distance (the event contested at the Olympic Games), the most common format. It is an event that will generally last between 2h30 and 3h. It is good to train between 5 and 7 hours a week to complete it without suffering it.

The L, according to the competitions, it is more commonly called the half ironman, i.e. 1.9 km of swimming, 90 km of cycling and a half-marathon (21.097 km). We are not exactly on the same distances. And at this stage, we are addressing a different audience. Depending on the elevation, we will be around 5h30, 6h of effort. We will consider triathlon as one sport and not as three: each discipline will impact the next. In training, we spend at least two sessions per discipline per week.

Finally, for the Ironman, equivalent to the XXL format, you need an average of at least 10 hours of training per week. At first, you can stay on two sessions per discipline per week, but with much longer sessions. On weekends, for example, it’s a minimum of 3 hours of cycling and it can go up to 5 or 6. We do big cycling/running sequences. It requires careful planning.»

It is not his pupil, Thomas Ostré, who will say the opposite. His program for an Ironman? Jump off a ferry at 5 am to swim in a fjord (water around 12 degrees), 180 km of cycling with 5 passes to cross and a marathon (1500 meters of elevation gain), in the mountains, to finish.

(Thomas Ostré in full training)

(Thomas Ostré in full training)

Why did he choose this sport? “I started from the premise: how long does it take to do a triathlon? What have I already done that requires so much? Or more ? Or less ? What effort has my body already endured? I had finished a 70 km trail with 4000 vertical meters in 11 hours. I knew that I had already held these 11 hours, so… When you get into it, you have to know that it takes a lot of time. How much are we ready to allocate to training, especially when we work on the side? We must also ask ourselves what is its objective: seeking performance or “simply” doing well and enjoying it on race day? It is often said that the fourth sport of triathlon is organization. For Ironman, it’s true.»

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