Triathlon Frequently Asked Questions

Triathlon Frequently Asked Questions

Are you curious about triathlon and what it involves? Here we try to answer some of the more common questions .....

What is Triathlon?

Triathlon is a multisport event which consists of a Swim, Bike and Run. It can be done over several distances meaning there is always a Triathlon available to suit every person.

There are variations of this too…for example Duathlons which are Run, Bike, Run or Aquathlons which are Swim, Run or even AquaBike which is Swim, Bike.

There really is something for everyone 😊

But I can’t swim? I can’t run? I don’t own a bike??

Neither did many of us when we started. We have all had to learn to gain skills in one of the disciplines…and sometimes all of them. The challenge is to try and keep all three disciplines working together. You don’t have to front crawl – you can breaststroke. Butterfly and backstroke are not allowed. And you can use any road worthy bike – as long as you wear a helmet. Many of us started on borrowed bikes.

Aren’t Triathlons all about endurance. I couldn’t exercise for that long, could I?

Multisport is a brilliant challenge to try and do multiple exercise in one go but it is accessible for everyone and there is a distance that suits us all. Mo Farah is not Usain Bolt, but they are both brilliant at their distance 😊

‘Ironman’ is actually a brand of races which covers the ‘long distance’ and the ‘middle distance’  Triathlon. However, there are many options – the main options you will see in most events held are:


            400m swim (these events are held in swimming pools)

            Or a 750m swim (these are in open water, usually a lake, can be a river, or the sea!)

            20km bike

            5km run


            1500m swim (most often open water)

            40km bike

            10km run

TRIATHLON 70.3: (also known as middle distance or ‘half-ironman’)

The 70.3 refers to the total miles travelled (even though everyone talks in kilometres)

            1900m swim (open water)

            90km bike

            21.1km run

TRIATHLON 140.6: (also known as long distance or ‘full ironman’ or just ‘ironman’)

The 140.6 is again the total miles travelled

            3800m swim (open water)

            180km bike

            42.2km run

Events like Duathlons and Aquathlons will often follow a similar format so a Duathlon might be:

Run 5km, Bike 20km, Run 2.5km as an example. Sometimes you even get SuperSprint Events with shorter distances again.

What on earth do I wear? I don’t want to run in my swimsuit!

And nobody wants to see that either 😊 However, you can do a pool swim in your cozzie, throw your shorts and T-shirt over it, pop on a pair of trainers and you are good to go.

If you want to splash out a bit more, Triathlon suits are available at all price ranges. You can have sleeveless, short sleeved and long sleeved.

Triathlon suits are designed for you to undertake all three sports without having to get changed. If you are open water swimming you may also need to wear a wetsuit on top of your Triathlon suit. You then take your wetsuit off after the swim and just wear your Triathlon suit for the bike and the run.

A Triathlon suit has a small pad in the bottom to help when you cycle but is flexible and light enough to enable you to run in it too.

So how do I get started?

We highly recommend joining a club! By joining Malvern Triathlon Club, which is both local and friendly, you will have access to training every week for running and swimming and we offer social runs and social bike rides too. We also can support people with finding races, finding equipment and navigating the all-important 4th discipline in triathlon – the transition – this is when you swap from swimming to cycling or from cycling to running during the race.

Are races just for professionals?

Absolutely not – obviously the professionals do enjoy racing and if you find you really love Triathlon then you can look to compete for Team GB events in your age group until the end of your days! There are events open to all abilities and some events are specifically designed for beginners and will hold Introduction and Induction Days before the main event itself. We have a list of local events to get you started on our Race Calendar page.