When it comes to triathlons, thoughts often go to the Ironman, one of the toughest and most tiring competitions that exist. You have to try your hand in sequence with almost four kilometers of swimming, 180 km of cycling and, to top it off, a marathon (about 42 km). In reality, however, this multisport can be modulated in various formulas with different distances, so much so that today it is increasingly being offered to children as well. Moreover, in the Covid-19 era, the triathlon offers the significant advantage of being practiced mainly outdoors.
The triathlon is a challenge with oneself, but also fun and harmony with nature – explains Gianfranco Beltrami, a specialist in sports medicine and national vice president of the Italian sports medical federation -. On a physical level, it offers the benefits of the three disciplines that make it up, namely swimming, cycling, and running, and, more generally, aerobic activities. Therefore it improves cardiovascular efficiency and that of the respiratory system, promotes harmonious development of the body, tones almost all muscle groups, improves mood, and slows down mental decay.
It’s not a sport for everyone. It is best suited to healthy young people because it requires a large cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal commitment. Not only that: the motivational and mental aspect is also important: you need to be able to manage fatigue and fully believe in what you do. Before trying your hand, a careful medical-sports check is essential, and then start gradually, increasing distances and commitment over time.
Children, who start around the age of 6-7, generally train 1-2 times a week and practice at least two disciplines together. Around the age of 14, training becomes 4-5 a week to reach 7-8 as adults. In these cases, careful planning and precisely knowing how to manage the time available is essential. Often you also do two workouts a day, for example, you run in the morning and cycle in the afternoon.
It is not uncommon to have problems in competition or training. Injuries are more common in long-distance triathletes and occur primarily in running and cycling. Among the most typical overload pathologies are plantar fasciitis, sciatica, and knee and sometimes shoulder problems.
To reduce the risk of getting hurt, you must first of all train correctly, with balanced, well-dosed, and personalized loads. It is also important to train strength and give due importance to rest and recovery. Stretching is always fundamental.