Cyclists Make The Best Triathletes


Cycling West - Cycling Utah Magazine logoBy Lora Erickson

Ten years ago I embarked on a journey that changed my life. I did my first triathlon. I come from a long distance running background and was recruited from Colorado to run on athletic scholarship for several local Utah colleges. By the time I found triathlon I had already had three small children and running had grown stale. I was looking for a new challenge but didn’t want to give up running all together. Triathlon training made sense; I could enjoy challenging my body by swimming, cycling, and continuing to run. The variety triathlon training provided was a welcome change but as an experienced triathlon coach I can tell you that it’s not just a simple as adding in two more sports. Each discipline affects the other and adjustments have to be made to prevent overtraining and prevent injury.

If you are looking for a change I can tell you from my experience that cyclists make really good triathletes. The reason for this is because cycling is the longest portion of triathlon event so good cyclists have an advantage. Not to say that runners can’t become good cyclists too!

I quickly learned after doing my first triathlon that I would have to spend more time in the saddle if I was going to really excel at this sport. My first triathlon was a sprint distance pool triathlon. This is generally a good starting place if you’re thinking about getting into triathlons. Traditional triathlons start with a swim, continue to cycling, and then finish with a run. Each event is one right after the other and your overall time includes the transition time from one sport to another. These transitions are also known as T1 & T2. Most people have heard of the Ironman distance, but this is not the only distance available. The shortest distance is known as a sprint triathlon and can be done in a pool or open water setting. Sprint distance triathlons generally swim 350 meters in a pool or 750 meters in open water followed with a 12 mile bike ride and finishing with a 5K run. The Olympic or International distance is usually done in open water with a 1500 meter swim, ~25 mile bike ride and a 10K run. The next distance would be the half Ironman or 70.3; starting with the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and finishing with a 13.1 half marathon run. The Ironman distance or 140.6 is a 2.4 miles swim, 112 mile ride followed by a 26.2 mile marathon. If you’re looking for a new challenge I highly suggest you look into doing triathlons. Not a swimmer? Check into doing duathlons; a run-bike-run event.

Happy training!

Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner is a USATF running, USA Triathlon and USMS Level 1 & 2 Swim coach. She enjoys working with all level athletes and offers on-line, in-person or team coaching programs as well as community classes. To learn more or for help with training contact Lora, or visit

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