What is a triathlon?

A triathlon is an event where you complete 3 disciplines continuously one after the other. You first complete a swim, then bike and finally a run.

4 Common Distances

Sprint Distance: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.

Standard (or Olympic) Distance: 1.5km swim, 20km bike, 10km run.

Half-Ironman Distance: 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run.

Ironman Distance: 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run.

Have a look on our Events page to find your next event.

Preparing for a Triathlon

The nature of the sport focuses on periodized training of swim, bike and run workouts. Training typically include general strength conditioning and flexibility. In order to aid recovery many triathletes make use of sports massage and proper nutrition.

Swim Workouts

Swimming is the greatest source of anxiety for most triathletes. Every triathlete can benefit from getting some form of swim coaching. If there is one thing amateur and professional triathletes should always improve on is proper technique. The goal of proper technique is to reduce drag and improve gliding through the water. The swim leg is all about technique.

Bike Workouts

The bike leg is the longest leg of any triathlon distance. Bike workouts will therefore take up at least half of your time spent training. Bike workouts can include workouts such as long tempo rides, power sessions, sprint intervals, hill repeats or high cadence easy spinning sessions. The bike leg is all about fitness.

Run Workouts

The run leg is the final leg of any triathlon distance. It will be important to train with tired legs and running after cycling. Run workouts can include long distance runs, track speed sessions, hill repeats or brick runs (running immediately after a cycling workout). The run leg is all about fitness and running with tired legs.

Strength Conditioning & Flexibility

Most injuries that befall triathletes are overuse injuries. Through postures and repetitive motions, triathletes tend to develop particular imbalances that are associated with particular injuries. To correct imbalances, you need to stretch muscles that tend to become shortened through training and strengthen muscles that tend to become weakened. Triathletes should frequently stretch their calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, neck, and chest, and should regularly performing functional exercises that strengthen the hips, butt, abdomen, upper back and shoulders.

Download our free 8-week Training Program or go to our Training Videos page for free tips on workouts.

Sports Massage

The most important benefit of sports massage is that it helps a triathlete’s recovery and can speed up injury rehabilitation. A targeted sports massage for a triathlete can work on the muscles primarily used in the competition. This will include the back, neck and shoulders for swimming, and the lower back for cycling and running. Finally, it should work on the legs for all three events.

Have a look at our Sports Massage page for more information.


Your everyday diet should include a balance of slow-burning, low-glycemic carbohydrates, fresh fruits, vegetables, quality protein and water. Try to stay low in processed foods, refined carbohydrates (e.g. cookies), and saturated fats. You may find that you need to eat more to maintain your weight than you did when you were less active.

Carbohydrate is the primary fuel source for cardiovascular exercise. Eating plenty of low-glycemic carbohydrates is the best way to keep your muscles stocked with glycogen, which your body relies on during long workouts. During workouts, drink enough fluids to keep hydrated and fuel with carbohydrate and protein depending on the length and intensity of the workout.

Getting the proper amounts of carbohydrate and protein into your body within the first 30 minutes of completing exercise will dramatically increase your performance the following day.

Go to our Sports Nutrition page to find more information and find a nutritionist or dietitian near you.


A coach can help you find your true potential through a structured training program while still enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

A typical Triathlon coach will customize your training around your personal circumstances. Training will include swim workouts, bike workouts, run workouts and general strength conditioning and flexibility.

There are also specialist coaches such as swim coaches, cycling coaches and run coaches that can focus on a specific discipline to either work on your weaknesses or perfect your strengths.

If you are looking for a coach, go to our Online Coaching Packages page and speak to our Head Coach.

Clubs and Licenses

Clubs offer their members weekly training sessions, discounted kit, discounts at sports shops and support at races. You need to be a member of a club in order to get a Triathlon South Africa (TSA) racing license.

If you want to do a race, you will need to buy a day license if you don’t have an annual TSA license. If you do have a TSA license you do not have to pay for a day license. A TSA license makes you eligible to be selected from provincial and national teams and also includes sports insurance.

Go to our Clubs & Licenses page to find more information.


In order to complete a triathlon you will need some equipment.

For the swim leg you will need a swim cap, goggles, ear plug (optional) and wetsuit.

For the bike leg you will definitely need a bicycle…as well as a helmet, cycling shoes and if you are not using a tri-suit then a cycling shirt and cycling pants.

For the run leg you will need running shoes, a peak and possibly a running shirt.

Go to our Shop page to find apparel and equipment.

Going Pro

If you want to know what it takes, have a look at the Blogs of our Pro and age group athletes.

Go to our Sports Agency page for more information and speak to our Sports Agent.

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