The Training Vault
What is Triathlon and Can I do it?
What is a sprint and should I do an Ironman? If you are asking this question you should clearly start with the shortest possible races just to get a taste for the sport before the full-commitment of an Ironman or even a 1/2 Ironman. Sprint distance at the USA Triathlon Age Group Championships is a 750 meter swim, 20k (12.6 mile) bike, and 5k (3.1 mile) run. Most of the local triathlons shorten the swim to somewhere between 300 and 400 meters because this is the one event that scares most athletes. The bike portion usually is closer to 10-miles but the run is 5k. There are some race directors who call their race International Distance and this means that one or more of the legs is longer than the 300-750 swim, 10-12 mile bike, or 3.1 mile run.
We all started with the sprint distance races just to see what the sport is like and that is the suggestion for you too. Expect to be out there for 1-2 hours for that distance. The closer to an hour you are, the more ready you may be for the next distance and the next challenge which is the Olympic Distance (because this is the distance they compete in at the Olympic Games- double the sprint distance).
THERE IS NO COACH in the world who would suggest starting your 1st or even 2nd season with a sprint, then moving to the OLY distance, then a 1/2 and finish the season with a full distance. I have seen it before and it does not end well. There is a huge difference between the former and the latter and you should look at it as a process as you move up.