Thesis: Conditioning, Training and Participating in the Triathlon

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Conditioning, Training and Participating in the Triathlon

Athletic activity is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle for

individuals of all ages permitting. Physical activeness benefits the body

and mind, and is crucial in preventing obesity, hypertension, heart disease

and other potentially fatal long-term conditions. The body of research on

health, physical activity and habitual orientations is at a consensus

regarding the values which are inherent to participation in organized

sports, competitive athletic competition and a sporting lifestyle in

general. This is a core premise underlying the competitive activity known

as the triathlon. A sporting event created in the tradition of Ironman

endurance competitions previously in practice in early 20th century France

and, by the mid to late 20th century, American locales such as Southern

California and Hawaii, the triathlon is a competitive engagement which

tests stamina, conditioning and mental toughness and which requires the

long-term dedication demanded of training and personal preparation. Here,

we will consider the practical nature of the triathlon, the logistics

concerning the feasibility of participation in a triathlon, physical

attributes either possessed or acquired optimizing competition or

participation in a triathlon and the proper training realities concerning

competition or participation in a triathlon event. Additionally, we will

touch upon the health benefits of triathlon participation and will consider

some precautionary tips for engagement in the triathlon.

Fundamentally, the triathlon is comprised of three different forms of

physical competition, with no break in action in between segments. By

definition, it is a "3-event endurance sport in which athletes compete

sequentially in swimming, cycling and running. The primary determinant of

success is the ability to sustain a high rate of energy expenditure for

prolonged periods of time." (O'Toole & Douglas, 251) This is accomplished

through steady conditions and refinement in certain aspects of physical

activity. For participants, this means a long-term regimen by which common

running routines are supplemented with intensive swim and cycle training.

When the concept developed in a modern context through competition in the

mid-1970s, it was most often pursued in the United States, where amateur

Ironman events centered on competitive fun and recreational fitness. In

the duration however, the triathalon has evolved to take on more serious

implications, with its standardization in the Olympic context coming to

reflect the most visible level of triathlon competition.

In that framework, an endurance event which has often been variable

based upon context and participants has evolved into an exclusively

formidable rankings based sport. Thus, training revolves on a set distance

and distribution of phases. Standing as current to date, "the standard

"Olympic Distance" of 1.5/40/10k was created by long time triathlon race

director, Jim Curl in the mid-80's after he and partner Carl Thomas

successfully produced the U.S. Triathlon Series between 1982 and 1997.

USTS, as it was known, did more to bring accessible triathlons to the

masses than any other group." (Wikipedia, 1) Thus, quite interestingly,

even as competition became more rigorous for the sport, its higher profile

significantly improved the attention and level of participation seen to

that point. This would be positive for the posterity of the sport, helping

to bring a wider pool of athletes from a more diverse array of initial

disciplines into the triathlete fold. This would not only help to raise

the level of competition and the prospect for forming camaraderie within a

specialized activity but it would raise the level of seriousness with which

triathlon competitions have been taken by the world's of competitive

sporting, fitness and medicine. The health implications of the triathlon

competition have alone contributed immensely to the quality of competition,

with refinement of training methodologies, of physical therapy techniques

and of overall research on the improvement of stamina, endurance and

additional factors to be considered here such as cardiovascular dexterity

and lactate persistence.

Outside of the Olympic context, it is still the case that triathlon

races may be extremely variable in characteristic. Namely, there are only

three necessarily constant characteristics needed to define a triathlon.

Particularly, "triathlons (races involving consecutive swimming, bi

cycling, and running) have become commonplace in the United States. These

races may involve from 30 minutes to 36 hours of continuous exercise,

usually in warm or hot environments." (Hiller et al, 163) So long as the

event is constituted of the three athletic elements, the sequence in which

they are executed, the length of distance required within each and the

geographical terrain all are subject to the decisions of those holding and

judging the race.

Essentially, in this regard, anybody may participate in a triathlon.

Outside of those which are held based on ranking and competitive seeding,

eligibility will vary according to ability and experience. However, a

great many triathlon events that are held in less formal terms allow the

participation of all ages and levels of ability, dividing competitors

according to age group and gender. (Wikipedia, 1) These divisions are

therefore the only restraining factors in the informal triathlon where,

according to Mora (1999), your goal should be quite simply to finish. The

beginner triathlete will want to focus on pacing and conservation of

energy, with experience being the only factor which can ultimately prepare

one for the distribution of energy necessary to genuinely compete against

others.

To this point, an important point of introduction to competitive

triathlon participation is the fact that this is not an engagement which

can be entered into casually. Quite to the contrary, thet triathlon is a

serious endurance event within which only athletes with the proper

education, training and health conditions can compete. The length and

magnitude of the triathlon is foreboding and the sport is thus reserved

only for those with the willingness and capacity to take the proper

conditioning and training precautions. Indeed, the consequences for

competing in a triathlon while ill-prepared can be exceedingly severe and,

with threats such as dehydration, exhaustion, heat stroke or coronary, even

potentially fatal.

Athletic competition always requires effective preparation, including

the appropriate long-term conditioning, stretching, warm-ups and mid-

competition pacing. With regard to triathlon participation this is all the

more imperative, with the length and variation of the race placing heavy

demands upon the body and mind. The participation in a triathlon will

alone constitute an extraordinary expenditure of energy, even absent the

pressures of attempting victory, Therefore, training and conditioning must

precede the triathlon at a steady and longterm pace which begins with

general fitness and segues into actual endurance training. Indeed, for the

individual who is largely out of shape or who has engaged only

occasionally, rarely or never in sporting activities could be no less than

a year away from realistically considering participation in the triathlon.

Again, though this activity is accessible to many who are in otherwise

healthy condition (i.e. absent any chronic injuries, maladies or physical

impairments), for many who lead a normal sedentary lifestyle the process of

preparation may need to be extremely lengthy and, though not overly

rigorous from a day to day basis, indicative of a true lifestyle change for

the individual in question.

And if one is to decide to tread this path, it is necessary to

understand that even peak conditioned athletes and competitors are

vulnerable to the strains of such a competition. To this end, in the

research conducted by Hiller et al (1987), "medical records were kept and

examined for all ath letes requiring treatment during a typical United

States Triathlon Series (USTS) race in 1986 . . . The most common diagnoses

at the USTS and IQ were dehydration and heat exhaustion. At the lronman,

dehydration and heat problems were complicated by hyponatremia." (Hiller et

al, 163) Endurance competition inherently carries with it the challenge of

besting not just others but competing against personal walls put up by

physical and mental limitations. The triathlon is, especially for the

beginning competitor, inherently designed to test the limits of one's

endurance. And as a matter of policy, it is absolutely imperative that the

proper medical personnel and resources are immediately available to attend

to the above noted conditions. Moreover, given the potential risks

involved in this sport, life-saving and resuscitative equipment and

personnel are necessary on the site of the triathlon competition as well.

(Hiller et al, 164) Still, the practical participant will not rely on

their presence but on a long-term training regimen which prepares the body

for the duration and adrenaline related to event day.

That said, a healthy training program can have a momentous impact on

the health of the proposed triathlete. Indeed, according to our research,

"when you engage in a well-balanced program of swimming, cycling and

running-known as cross-training-you will burn an enormous amount of fat

from every area of your body." (Haar, 2) this speaks to the positive

argument in favor of engagement in the triathlon, which Haar (2003)

contends helps to boost self-confidence, body image and even intellect. As

our research demonstrates, there is a close correlation between

participation in a total and engaging endurance training agenda and the

improvement of mental clarity. According to Metzl (2003) the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Conditioning, Training and Participating in the Triathlon.  (2008, July 17).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/conditioning-training-participating/18834

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"Conditioning, Training and Participating in the Triathlon."  Essaytown.com.  July 17, 2008.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/conditioning-training-participating/18834.