IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Indoor Triathlons

Here in the midwest, the time is ripe for the Indoor Triathlon. With just a little investigation, you can find an indoor triathlon somewhere near you. So what is an indoor triathlon? Well, an indoor triathlon is a bit different from an outdoor triathlon. The biggest noticable difference is that you do each event for a designated amount of time vs. trying to cover a certain distance. Another major difference is that the transition times are set (i.e. 10 minutes) for all athletes, so there is no advantage to moving on to your next event - everyone starts at the same time.


The Swim: The number of lanes in the pool typically dictates how many triathletes can start together. Many of our local indoor triathlons will put two swimmers in each line to swim side-by-side. Circle swimming is not allowed. Each participant swims for the designated time, while “counters” assigned to each lane keep track of laps. When time is up, participants exit the pool and the next wave of swimmers begins.

The Transitions: After the swim, participants have the opportunity to go to the locker room and change out of their wet swimsuits. Most indoor triathlons allow 10 minutes for each transition which is like "free" time. After the bike, athletes are once again allowed 5 or 10 minutes to get from the bikes to the treadmills or track, depending on the race. Be sure to hydrate well during these periods.

The Bike: Stationary bikes are most commonly used for indoor triathlons. Make sure you give yourself ample time to adjust the bike seat and bars so you’re comfortable riding. The stationary bikes have built-in computers that will show you speed and distance. You will be allowed to adjust your resistance as needed and your goal is to ride as far as you can in the designated time period. In most indoor triathlons, the same "counter" (volunteer) will follow you throughout the day to record your distance in each discipline.

The Run: After getting from the bike to the track (or treadmill), the run begins. You are to stop when the designated time elapses. Again your "counter" (volunteer) is there to count your laps so you don't have to count. At the end of the event, this person will add up all your distances, show you the card and you are to sign off on it before having the card turned in to be recorded in the official results.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

While the formats for indoor triathlons can vary between indoor triathlons, most are developed to remove certain “barriers to entry” that prevent aspiring triathletes from participating in outdoor events.

Swim is in a pool. One reason many people hesitate to sign up for a triathlon is the swim, which usually occurs in open water with a mass start. Triathletes often describe the experience as “swimming in a washing machine.” Indoor triathlon participants swim in a pool, sometimes in their own lane, allowing enough space to swim at their own pace with the option to stop and regroup if necessary.

Transitions are less stressful. Most people define triathlons as swimming, biking and running, but a major part of the race is the transition between events. The clock doesn’t stop as you race to your gear, change equipment and set yourself on the right course. In many indoor triathlons, however, the clock does stop — for a short period — to allow you to move on to the next stage.

Predictable bike ride.
Since you’re not riding a bike on the road, you don’t have to worry about getting a flat tire, wiping out, navigating around other cyclists on the course, or perfecting some of the rules of conventional triathlons, such as drafting and passing.

Perfect weather conditions. Some outdoor triathlons have become duathlons because of dangerous swim conditions. Severe heat can shorten the run course. You don’t always get what you expect, and your own race results from the same outdoor course each year can vary because of weather. Not so with an indoor race. The conditions are always the same.

No one gets left behind. Everyone races in the same building, in the same area. Even if another competitor is running faster than you, you're on the same indoor track (or treadmill) next to you runs a mile in half the time it takes you to get there, you won’t be left in his dust. Because of this proximity, it’s an ideal format to race with friends and family.

So should you participate in an indoor triathlon?

While participating in an indoor triathlon will not significantly advance your training or fitness, it can be a fun event to add to your training schedule when working out indoors becomes monotonous. So if you're feeling like adding a little spice and excitement to your indoor regimen, go ahead and sign up for an indoor triathlon. You're bound to have fun!

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