Triathlon and the science behind it

  • So how does an athlete prepare for such a race? What goes into the preparations for competing in a competition where an athlete has to complete long distances of swimming, running, and cycling?
Nupuur Patil after completing Iron Man 70.3.
Nupuur Patil after completing Iron Man 70.3.
Updated on Jul 25, 2021 06:36 AM IST
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There has been a constant rise in interest in areas of health and fitness in the last decade. After the era of fast foods and quick snacks, the general public has become conscious of the benefits of maintaining fitness. The fitness enthusiasts are participating in marathons while there seems to be a piquing interest in Triathlons. The Greek word means an endurance competition where athletes go through various distances of swimming, cycling, and running in order to complete the multisport race.

Milind Soman has made triathlon mainstream with his constant Ironman competitions. Triathlon is one of the most difficult types of races to complete it tests the mental and as well physical endurance of the athletes. It has constantly been referred as the pinnacle of long-distance races.

So how does an athlete prepare for such a race? What goes into the preparations for competing in a competition where an athlete has to complete long distances of swimming, running, and cycling? Sports nutritionist and fitness coach Nupuur Patil completed Iron Man 70.3 in 2019 and is eager to help the general public in their fitness journeys. She imparts her first-hand knowledge on preparing for a Triathlon to other athletes.

“Triathlon training is a process and takes time so the first thing you need to do is start the training and then you need to be consistent and patient. It’s consists of the three disciplines running, cycling, and swimming. Getting a coach can help as he/ she will design a structured plan which then you have to follow daily,” Nupuur said.

“Apart from this you also need to weight-train or strength training and focus on mobility and flexibility for joints. On an average per week, you need to train for anywhere between 7-10 hours,” Nupuur Patil continued to say.

It is just not training and practice that will get to complete a triathlon, a lot depends on the diet you take in preparations for it. Nupuur explains what foods that athletes should target while devising their dietary plans for a long-distance run.

“An athlete's caloric requirements are different. So an athlete should have balanced meals and focus on foods that help in recovery. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats along with micro and macronutrients should be the focus. An athlete should never skip breakfast or dinner for that matter,” said Nupuur.

What are the things that make a triathlon different and more challenging from conventional races? Nupuur says the combination of three sports in a triathlon makes the training hours longer than conventional races.

"A triathlon has three sports that are combined together due to which the training hours are very long as compared to conventional races. So along with physical endurance, you need mental endurance too. I clearly remember, during my Ironman in Dubai, the heat was so excruciating that my body had given up mid-run. But it was my mind that got me through. Of course, all sports are equal for me. But in my experience, to be successful at it you need strict discipline and a sharp focus.

"I wake up at 5 am on weekdays and 3:30 am on weekends so that I can finish my training sessions before my workday starts. This also requires sacrifices in my social life. Some of my friends may go out for dinner or gatherings but I have to be in bed by 8/9 because sleep affects recovery. Of course on some days I indulge for balance but only after working hard for many weekends on a stretch."

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