Q: I get lost when I hear my training buddies talking about their workouts. Can you decode some common triathlon terms?
Amy Marsh answers:
A: Training for three different disciplines is hard work in itself. But, keeping up with training terminology and abbreviations is no easy feat either. Even for veteran triathletes, the lingo can get confusing. Here are a few common triathlon terms separated by sport, so you can keep it all straight.
Pull Buoy – A floating device made of Styrofoam that fits between your thighs, eliminating the need to kick. This pool tool helps isolate the pull stroke, so you can focus on upper body conditioning.
Paddles – Another swimming accessory that straps to your hands and helps strengthen the upper body in the water. The paddle is slightly bigger than your hand to help grab more water as you pull. Be sure you have mastered good swimming form before using paddles, as they can add stress to the shoulders.
“5 x 200 on 4:00” – When you hear someone say they swam five by 200 on four minutes, it means they swam 200 yards on four-minute intervals, five times. Let’s say you swam 200 yards in three minutes and 30 seconds, you would rest for the 30-second difference and start the next interval on the fourth minute.
Descend – To descend means to start out slow and progressively get faster through the workout. For example, to descend a set of 3 x 100s you may start out at 2:00 for the first one, 1:55 on the second one and then 1:50 on the third 100.
Lube – It can mean one of two things:
1) To lube your bike chain is to keep it clean and cranking smoothly. Sometimes, less is more, here.
2) A cream used to prevent the dreaded chafing. In this case, more lube is better than less!
Bonking – The feeling of running out of energy during a workout. Common symptoms include becoming lightheaded or dizzy and experiencing extreme muscle fatigue. The best solution is to get sugar in your system as fast as possible.
Drafting – To ride directly behind another athlete to reduce wind resistance. Drafting, however, is illegal in triathlon races. Any racer caught drafting is given a penalty (either a time deduction or disqualification), which can risk the racer’s placement and award.
Race Belt – An elastic strap that is worn around the waist during the run portion of a triathlon. Race numbers can be easily pinned to the belt, which saves time during transition.
Fuel Belt – A belt that is also worn around the waist to carry small water bottles, gels and accessories. A fuel belt is meant for easy access to hydration and fuel, used more during training than in races.
Negative split – To run the second half of a workout or race faster than the first half. Picking up your speed, especially on tired legs, is meant to strengthen your legs as you engage more fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.