May 6, 2022
Cedar Cycling

The Triathlon Dictionary

This guide will introduce you to the sport of triathlon and provide a detailed explanation of the terms used in the sport.

Different Triathlon Distance Guide

TriathlonSwim (Distance)Bike (Distance)Run (Distance)
Sprint.5 mile12-14 miles3.1 miles
Olympic1 mile25 miles6.2 miles
Half Ironman (70.3)1.2 miles56 miles13.1 miles
Full Ironman2.4 miles112 miles26.2 miles

Swim Dictionary

Swim Dictionary

Floating Start:

The floating start is a type of start used in swimming competitions where the swimmer starts floating in the water instead of standing on the pool deck.

Jammers vs. Tri Suit:

Jammers are a type of swimwear worn by male swimmers that cover the thighs and lower body. Tri suits are a type of swimwear worn by both male and female swimmers that cover the entire body.

Open water swim (OWS):

Open water swim is a type of swimming that takes place in natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Bike Dictionary


“Aero” (As in Bars, Body, and Position):

Aero refers to the position of the body and the bike in order to minimize wind resistance and maximize speed.

Bike Gears—Big/ Little, Up/Down, Higher/ Lower:

Bike gears are the different levels of resistance that the bike can be set to in order to make pedaling easier or harder. The gears are controlled by shifting the chain from one sprocket to another.

The bigger the sprocket, the easier it is to pedal, and the smaller the sprocket, the harder it is to pedal. To make pedaling easier, you would shift the chain to a bigger sprocket (up) or to a lower gear (down). To make pedaling harder, you would shift the chain to a smaller sprocket (higher) or to a higher gear (lower).

Bike In/ Bike Out:

Bike in refers to the first leg of the race where you will be biking. Bike out refers to the second leg of the race where you will be biking.

Cadence or RPM:

Cadence is the number of times the pedals turn per minute. RPM stands for revolutions per minute and is a measure of how fast the pedals are turning.


A cleat is a small metal or plastic piece that is attached to the bottom of the cycling shoe. The cleat engages with the pedal to provide a more efficient pedaling motion.

Clipless Pedals:

Clipless pedals are pedals that do not have a toe cage or straps. Instead, they have a mechanism that allows the cyclist to clip their shoes into the pedals. This provides a more efficient pedaling motion and prevents the feet from slipping off the pedals.

Indoor Trainer:

An indoor trainer is a device that allows you to ride your bike indoors. The trainer holds the bike in place and provides resistance, simulating the feel of riding on the road.

Road vs. Hybrid vs. Tri:

Road bikes are designed for speed and efficiency on paved roads. They have lightweight frames and skinny tires. Hybrid bikes are a cross between road and mountain bikes and are designed for riding on a variety of surfaces. They have wider tires than road bikes and are more versatile. Tri bikes are designed specifically for triathlons and are a cross between road and time trial bikes. They are designed for speed and efficiency on both paved roads and off-road surfaces.

Pedal Mashing:

Pedal mashing is a term used to describe the act of pedaling with a lot of force, but without cadence. This is often done when climbing hills or when trying to accelerate.

Run Dictionary


Brick Workouts:

A brick workout is a type of workout where you combine two or more endurance activities, such as running and biking. This type of workout is often used by triathletes to simulate race conditions.


Fartlek is a Swedish word that means "speed play." It is a type of training that involves bursts of speed interspersed with periods of slower pace. Fartlek training can be adapted to any sport that involves running.


Pronation is the natural inward roll of the foot after it hits the ground. This action helps to absorb shock and provides a stable platform for the body to move forward.

Race Belt:

A race belt is a type of belt that is worn by triathletes during races. This belt is used to secure the timing chip that is used to track the athlete's progress during the race.


The stride is the distance between each step that is taken while running.

Triathlon General Terms


This term is used to describe a training schedule that involves doing two workouts in one day.


The base is the foundation of a triathlete's training. It is the period of training in which the athlete builds up their endurance and strength.

Body Marking:

Body marking is the process of applying temporary tattoos or markers to an athlete's body in order to identify them during a race.


A bonk is when an athlete runs out of energy and has to slow down or stop.


Drafting is when one athlete follows another athlete in order to save energy.

Draft Zone:

The draft zone is the area around an athlete where drafting is allowed.

“Du” or Duathlon:

A duathlon is a race that consists of running and biking, but does not include swimming.


A kit is a triathlete's equipment, including their bike, helmet, shoes, and clothing.


Intervals are short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by periods of rest.

Race Packet:

A race packet is a packet of information that is given to athletes before a race. It includes things like the race schedule, course map, and list of rules.

Periodization (training):

Periodization is the process of dividing a training plan into phases, each with a specific goal.


PR stands for personal record.


The taper is the period of time leading up to a race in which an athlete decreases their training volume in order to be fresh and rested for the race.

Transition Area:

The transition area is the area where athletes transition from one discipline to another.

Waves (Race Starts):

Waves are groups of athletes that start a race at different times.


We hope you found this guide helpful. Triathlon is a great sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. With a little bit of knowledge, you'll be ready to take on your first triathlon in no time.

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