As regular readers of the blog will be aware, jjheritage prides itself on being historians and project managers who take on new sporting challenges each year. Joanna and Jean have both run the London Marathon, and The Great North Run and Jean has swum a mile in the Great North Swim, in Lake Windermere as well as smaller challenges such as the Serpentine swim, covered in a previous blog post.
This year’s sporting challenge involves Jean, and her niece Kelly who ran the London Marathon last year, completing the Stratford Upon Avon Sprint Triathlon, on 19th May a 400m pool swim, 18 kilometre cycle and 5 kilometre run. In order to prepare for this, Jean and Kelly will take part in the Nuneaton Tri Club Aquathon on 5 May with a 400m pool swim and a 5k run. This will help us to practice our transitions between water and land.
Triathlon as a sport
The rise of triathlon comes off the back of the rise in running marathons, and it is interesting to note that more people have now run marathons in the last twenty years than at previous points in history, paradoxically because our lives are becoming more sedentary and we have the time and leisure in which to train, aided by better nutrition and training aids. Triathlon is defined as a three-discipline sports event containing swimming, cycling, and running. This is a continuous event without a rest. The triathlon can be an individual or team ‘relay’ event over varying distances. A relatively new innovation, triathlon developed as a way of providing challenging track training, back in the 1920s in France called variously ‘Les trois sports’, ‘La Course des Débrouillards’, and ‘La course des Touche à Tout.’ The first modern tri was hosted in 1974, at Mission Bay, San Diego, California, USA. The San Diego Track Club sponsored the event and the triathlon then comprised a 10 km run, 8 km cycle, and 500 m swim, with the first Ultra "Ironman" triathlon in Oahu, USA in 1978 (3.8 kilometer (2.4 mile) swim / 180.2 km (112 mi) bike / 42.2 km (26.2 mi) run).
In 1989, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in Avignon, France, and the first official world championships were held. The official distance for the triathlon was set at a 1500 m swim, a 40 km cycle, and a 10 km run—taken from existing events in each discipline already on the Olympic program. This standard distance is used for the ITU World Cup series and was also featured at the Sydney Olympic Games, when Triathlon was first featured, having been given International Olympic Committee recognition in 1989. Triathlon races are held over four distances, known as sprint, Olympic, long course, and ultra. There are also para-tri events and world championships. So how have Jean and Kelly been training?
Training for our first Triathlon
Realistically, Kelly will go for good time in the Sprint event and Jean will look just to complete the event. First of all we began eight weeks before the race, making sure that we were covering each of the individual distances that we would need to complete in the race and, where possible, going slightly beyond that distance. We have also used a technique called ‘brick’ training to prepare for the transition from cycling to running, when the legs can feel heavy because blood has been pumping to cycling muscles rather than running muscles so this has involved short transitional intervals of ten minutes running and ten minutes cycling. At this stage we wont have to worry about open water swimming, so the techniques for the pool mainly involve coping with race conditions and other competitors. Mainly, by swimming at race pace, we are focusing on keeping breathing and stroke smooth.
As Jean is not a very confident cyclist, buying her first new bike for 25 years to complete the event, we’ve benefitted from the Race Rapid Club’s use of Mallory Park circuit to cycle in a traffic free environment to put the miles in our legs which costs £5 each session. Race Rapid are also hosting a number of short Tri events on Wednesday evening in May in order to facilitate those who are new to the sport or want to hone their transitions the first being 15 May swim a 200m open water (lake), bike - 5 miles and run - 1.5 miles. Maybe those of you who live locally and want to try the sport will see us there?
Compared to the first London Marathon in 1981, where fewer than 300 of the 6,300 finishers were women, 44% of the 414,168 people who applied for the 2019 ballot applicants were female. There has been a general rise in marathon completions by first timers, as much as a first time ‘bucket list’ target, as amongst regular runners. It looks like triathlon is following that trend as it is estimated that 1% of the world population will now complete the distance. However, along with obstacle races such as Tough Mudder, and other endurance events this marks a general rise in experiential events and the shorter distances are a way of attracting the first time athlete. So we will check in with you after 19 May to let you know how we got on in Stratford Upon Avon.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.