FAQ

 

About The Team

Everyone who is affiliated with GT in some way is welcome! However, only active students may participate in conference races and collegiate nationals.
No, we welcome individuals from all ranges of abilities.
That's entirely up to you! You're probably pretty busy, and the last thing we want to do is force you to do anything. If you share your goals with us, we will be happy to let you know what kind of commitment they will take. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time to improve. Just like playing an instrument or learning a language. You don't need to drop out of school and train 20 hours a day, but around 30 minutes of activity a day is a good place to start.
It depends! We generally prefer quality over quantity. We have people training for only an hour or less per week up to around 15 hours
We have been successful in the past getting partial funding for races and equipment; however, athletes will still have some expenses. These are much less than those you would normally have racing triathlon though! We will continue to work with the student government to secure our funding in the years to come.
Triathlon is a great sport, and we hope this a great environment where you can enjoy it. The best thing about this team is the community. We work hard to be inclusive and judgement free. If you are interested, please contact us to learn more! We would love for you to swing on by for a couple practices before making up your mind.
Not as of now! We are not charging dues during the Covid pandemic. One more expense you don't need right now! We do anticipate adding dues again once the situation has righted itself.
We race the sprint and olympic distances, and the national championships are olympic distance. We also offer draft legal elite racing for those who qualify. Please refer to the general triathlon faq for more details on these race formats.
That depends! Some people get super into tris, but for most, the key competition is yourself. No matter what, you will not be the slowest athlete at a race, that is guaranteed! Even at nationals, we see all levels of abilities. The podium finishers may be bidding for an Olympics bid or professional slot, but we see a lot of busy students having fun too!
TO HELL WITH GEORGIA!!!

Covid Precautions

We all take Covid-19 very seriously. To date (Jan 2021), we have had no reported cases on the team. We rely on several safeguards to protect our members. 1. All members should have received a negative covid surveillance test within 7 days of practicing. 2. We ask anyone feeling sick to stay home. No questions asked. 3. We will keep track of who attends what practices so that all who were potentially exposed can be alerted. 4. We expect all members to maintain safe conduct outside the club 5. We ensure proper social distancing during training and socializing. 6. We spent most of our time outdoors or in the well ventilated GT competition pool.
Please let the safety officer (Katie) know as soon as you can. She will then perform the contact tracing and notify those who may have been exposed. There is no need to share the news with the whole team if you would prefer not to.
No. Even with a negative test, please stay home. Tests are not 100% effective.
Even without a positive test, please share this information with the safety officer (Katie). That way we can encourage anyone with whom you may have come into contact to get tested.
😔 that's bush league bro.

Triathlon General Questions

A tri consists of a swim, bike and run. The swim is usually in open water, but can be in a pool. The start is either "time trial", where people start one after another, or group start. Once exiting the water, you'll enter the transition zone and hop on your bike. After the ride, you'll head back to transition for the run. The last thing then is the finish line!
Tris usually come in four distances. 1. Sprint - Swim 750m, Bike 20k, Run 5k 2. Olympic - Swim 1.5k, Bike 40k, Run 10k 3. Half Ironman / 70.3/ HIM - Swim 1.9k, Bike 90.1k, Run half marathon 4. Ironman / 140.6 / IM - Swim 3.9k, Bike 180.2k, Run marathon
Tris are a great way to maintain basic fitness and stay active. The health benefits of an active lifestyle are numerous and well documented. Combined with a healthy diet and proper self care, triathlons can have positive health benefits. Please consult with your doctor before making any health decisions.
You should get to "transition" early to setup. Transition is the area where we transition from swim to bike and bike to run. You will have a rack in which to put your bike and belongings. Make sure to remember where this is! Nothing is worse than coming out of the water and seeing a sea of bikes. You should double check the bike before racking it in the opposite direction of your neighbor, then place the helmet in the handlebars. I recommend placing sunglasses in the helmet too. As a beginner, leave your running shoes (and bike shoes if you have special ones) in front of the bike. You also should have a race belt with your bib near the shoes. Place socks (if you wear them) in your shoes. Make sure to put on sunscreen before the swim, or leave some by your bike for transition. You should do a short jog to relieve nerves and practice open water swimming if given the chance. Pretty soon, you'll be lining up and ready to race!
It's like a pool swim, but you will have some crazy nerves. Just remember to relax! The start is always crazy. Don't go out too hard. Swimming is swimming. The one big difference is sighting. You will need to look up every once in a while to see the turn buoys. We recommend you do this instead of a breath every 6-12 stroked. Try to keep forward momentum when sighting. Just make sure you're going in the right direction! If you accidently hit another athlete, it's ok! You might bump into someone in a busy pool too.
You will keep swimming until your hand is hitting the beach, then stand up and run into transition. Because you are titling your body from horizontal to vertical, you will dramatically increase cardiac load and heart rate. Take it a bit easy and relax going into transition. You can run, but stay mentally "chill". In "T1" you will put on your helmet first. Don't forget that! Then put on your sunglasses and shoes. The race belt is not necessary. You will exit at "bike out". You have to walk your bike up to the line before getting on. After that, pedal away!
In non-draft legal races, you will have to stay 2-3 bike lengths away from competitors. You should pass them within 15 seconds. Otherwise, focus on keeping an even power output, even up hills. A higher cadence is usually a better cadence. Keep it steady and something you can maintain. The beginning should feel manageable. By the end, not so much. Take it a bit easy going into T2 so that you can get your legs back for the run.
Safely dismount the bike before the mount line and walk it back to you rack. Make sure to remember where your rack is! Take off your helmet (it happens) and put on the running shoes and race belt. head out of run out and go get it.
lol the run is where dreams come to die. Physiologically, you are not setup well to run at this point. Cycling produces a lot of lactate, and you'll be swimming in it come the run. The downward force required in cycling contrasts with the upward force in running, causing your legs to become confused. You are also tired, so your heart rate will spike. The run is full of fun surprises! Just remember to breath and let any curveballs come. If you have to walk, that's ok. Everyone's been there. Solider on through. Of course, you might feel great too. It all depends on the day. Whatever comes, listen to your body and race your race. Who knows, the person ahead of you might be going too hard and cramp soon.
Believe it or not, most of the resistance when cycling comes from the wind! Drafting refers to when you hide from the wind behind another cyclist. Depending on your speed and distance from the rider in front of you, this can allow you to output 20-40% less power. However, drafting is usually not legal in triathlons for safety reasons. One must stay more than 7 feet away from other riders unless passing, which must be done in 15 seconds. This comes out to 2-3 bike lengths.
In cycling, most of the resistance comes from the wind! Aerodynamics are thus an important contributor to one's time. You'll hear coefficient of drag (Cd) thrown around a lot. Riding "in aero" with one's forearms on the handlebars is one way to improve Cd. However, this is an advanced technique and requires a bike designed for this purpose.
No. You'll see plenty of people on mountain bikes and commuters at races. We also have several race bikes you can borrow if need be. We usually recommend people first get some racing experience before buying an expensive bike.
If you want to buy a fancy bike, buy the road bike first. Not only is the road bike more enjoyable to train and race on, it also is a great way to learn critical bike handling and safety skills. They are also significantly cheaper for the same value.
That depends! Most of our races feature water that is warm enough to swim without one. If the water is in the mid to low 60s, we would recommend a wetsuit. Below 60, the race director may make you wear one. Fortunately, we don't come near these temperatures most of the time. A wetsuit does increase speed because of increased buoyancy, and tends to help poorer swimmer disproportionately. They are legal to wear in water below 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don't worry; they'll tell you

Training

The best triathlon training plan involves balance and commitment, like pretty much anything in life. Personal finance is a great analogy. In order to make money investing, you need to save and wait. Take some percent of your money, every day, and watch it compound. But you shouldn't save all your money and move into a shelter! It's about balance. You shouldn't only save one month out of a year. You can't train for a triathlon with one huge session on Sunday. A little effort every day. There are so many analogies. One brick at a time. First step of 1000 miles. You probably know the answer already. Focus on getting a little better everyday and on the fundamentals. Try to balance effort between all three sports. Keep easy days easy. Plenty of Rest. Have fun. Practice in groups. Stay motivated. Avoid injuries. Improve technique. Don't judge yourself!
You can achieve so much more than you believe possible. How will you ever know if you don't try. Triathlon is filled with inspirational stories of people who have exceeded their wildest expectations. You can do it!
Congratulations, you've already taken the biggest step. Next up is to believe in yourself. Start out slow and easy. Remember, at this stage you will see huge improvements from your efforts. An experienced triathlete might train 10 hours a week at medium heart rate just to maintain fitness. You can train at the same HR and improve dramatically in just a few hours. Try not to allow your HR to get too high. Remember that a bpm of 180 is a huge effort, one you shouldn't do too often. Almost all of your workouts should be easy. No reason to race everyday. Not only is it mentally hard and leads to frustration, it limits your ability to do vary pace and leads to plateauing.
80/20 is a widely accepted theory positing that one should train 80% of the time at an easy effort and 20% at a hard effort. These 80% efforts are sustainable and improve aerobic fitness. They prevent burnout and maintain fitness. The 20% efforts are hard and work on high end fitness. If you don't follow 80/20, and instead do all your workouts hard, one of two things happen. You either go too hard and burn out or overfatigue your body, or you end up going all the time at a "vanilla" pace. We follow 80/20 on this team.
Your body produces energy in several ways, and each of these can work in some combination. Instead of eliciting nightmares of freshman Bio, I'll keep it general. At a low effort, your body tends to produce energy from fat. This doesn't mean that you burn more fat though! It has only to do with the source of energy. Fat = calories in - calories out, regardless of how they're burned. This low energy zone is very tight in beginner athletes and short distance racers. Long distance racers train at low efforts to improve this zone. An ironman relies heavily on fat burning. Next is carb burning, or classic aerobic glycolysis. This energy zone is the "sweet spot" where an individual is producing energy without lactate and is where you generally want to be in a triathlon. You generally have up to 2000Kcal of energy stored in blood glucose at the start of a race, and this will drop as you use that blood glucose. That is why you may need to eat sugary food during a long race or workout. At the top end of this zone is threshold. This zone one should be able to maintain for around an hour before fatigue brings you into the next zone. Finally, we have anaerobic energy production. This occurs when the body cannot bring enough oxygen to the cells. Instead, fat is inefficiently synthesized into energy, producing lots of burning lactate. You can only do this for so long, like the end of a race or a hard workout.
We use the training zones extensively to benchmark efforts and create workouts. They correspond to varying energy systems and muscular zones Z1 - Easy effort with low HR (<120) Z2 - Endurance effort, can still hold a conversation (120-145) Z3 - Aerobic effort (also called tempo) harder than endurance, but can be maintained for long periods. (145-160) Z4 - Threshold- right at the border between aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Race pace. Short intervals in training. Not too often Z5 - Anaerobic effort (also called VO2) - should be taking in maximum oxygen and burning all of it. Produces lactate. Not too often. Z6 - High end anaerobic - Very little aerobic contribution. Like a 200m run sprint, 50m swim race, or 30 second bike effort. Z7 - Full sprint - all fast twitch muscles and neuromuscular force. Very little cardiovascular contribution during the effort. Like a <100m running sprint, 50m swim race finish, or 10s bike sprint.
You should use a benchmark race or time trial to find out your zones via one of many online apps, like these https://www.alpfitness.com/fitness-calculators/calculate-pace-zones-for-running/ https://www.runningzone.com/pace-calculator/ When we say "400m at 5K" we mean for you to enter in some race time, convert it to a 5k time, then use that pace. Same with the zones
Generally, one should increase distance at no more than 10% from week to week. If you are at the upper end of 10% increase, make sure to keep the runs easy. Listen to your body and be smart about injuries.
Running depends highly on aerobic metabolism and the cardiovascular system. More so than cycling and swimming. Likely, you are taxing this system to the max by running too hard. If you try to bench press at your max every day, that would be hard too! Fortunately, your cardiovascular system will improve with steady efforts. Keep at it!
Patience! It takes a lot of easy efforts to improve your cardiovascular system. Fortunately, this consistent work will pay huge dividends. Keep at it. Speed will come later. The muscles are much more responsive to training than the cardiovascular system, and it is thus easier to add close to a race. Including 20% hard efforts will help you rev the heart engine safely and get the most out of your training.
That depends on your height, but generally one should approach 180 steps/minute for optimal performance. This is a lot. Almost all beginners run with too low of a cadence.
This could be a whole book! Generally, focus on staying smooth. This means minimal twisting or side to side motion. Keep your head in one place. Try not to bounce up and down. Try to land with your foot underneath your body. Over striding causes you to "slam into your leg in front of you" and acts like a giant break. It also hurts your legs and can lead to injury. Try to limit stride length and focus on cadence. When running fast, stride length will be high because of speed, not over striding. Stay light on your feet. The shorter time your feet are on the ground, the better. It should almost feel like your dancing. The arms should swing straight up and down from above the hip to the pectoral. Some people like to make am "ok" sign with their thumb and forefinger. Stay upright. A slight bend foreword is ok, but only a small one.
Don't run through pain. Fitness is a long journey where small efforts compound over time. One good workout isn't worth a month of inactivity. If you feel something weird, ask us what we think. We might send you to a physical therapist here at GT or provide some recommendations. In our combined experience, we've seen quite a few running injuries before.
lol just ask any of our ME PhD students 🙂 On the bike, we spin the pedals in a circle with a radius. The torque is the force times the radius. When factor in the number of rotations per unit time, we get power. Power is what makes you go. Because many cyclists have power meters on their bikes, they use this number to gauge effort. Unlike running, power does not always predict speed. One can produce 10W at a -4% grade and go 30mph and produce 400W at 6% and go 10mph.
Like running, focus on base. Unlike running, you can safely go into the upper zones for short periods. And you should! Often! Those sprint efforts will make your legs stronger and improve your cardiovascular system without leaving you bedridden for a week. You also can safely go long in cycling with minimal recovery afterwards. Some athletes like to ride >100 miles at a time to work on that base!
For threshold efforts, 90 rpm has been found to be optimal. This can vary slightly by athlete, but it is generally true that a higher cadence gives higher power for the same effort. It's like a small foreign car that revs super high being more fuel efficient than a high torque gas guzzler engine. The actual mechanics are worth looking at if you're interested.
FTP is functional threshold power, or the maximum power you can sustain for one hour. This is usually tested by performing a 20 minute power test and taking 95% of that value. FTP is a good benchmark for each of your zones and is a good pace for sprint triathlons. Maximum aerobic power (MAP) is found with a ramp test. You keep pumping up the pain until you can't hold it anymore. The maximum 1 minute power is MAP. This roughly correlated to your maximum 4-5 minute power.
Please let us know where you are. If you really have no experience, we will recommend a CRC run program to get you able to swim a lap or too first. Then, feel free to come to our workouts. We will focus on form and technique, getting you ready to rock and roll.
lol swimming is a cruel sport. It is all about form. Finesse over fitness. We recommend watching some youtube videos of pro swimmers and filming yourself. It might look like a whole different sport. Swimming is hard. It takes a lot of work to get good. It's just like anything actually. We wouldn't just take a high school dropout and put them in fluid mechanics. Just takes time and effort.
We offer "A" workouts up to 5000m and have some other competitive swimmers on the team. Unless you are Michael Phelps good, you'll feel right at home.
A lot of us use strava as a social platform to track our workouts. We have a team page. Check us out https://www.strava.com/clubs/gt_tri_team_active_members