Did you know that, according to NBC News and the journal Pain, triathletes can actually withstand more pain than athletes focusing on just one sport? A staggering number of triathletes feel stronger, healthier, and more accomplished, and chalk it all up to participation in world-famous Ironman triathlons. Even so, the truth remains that a record 12 American triathletes passed away just two years ago in 2011, according to a USA Triathlon report. How can triathletes enjoy all of the benefits of the three-part race, without putting their safety, or even their lives, on the line?
What Are the Risks?
Triathlons first began in France in the 1920s. Oahu, Hawaii developed the internationally renowned Ironman over fifty years later, in 1978. Today, people all over the world compete in the physically demanding Ironman, and 44% of those participants are parents of U.S. children. Staying safe begins by identifying the most common risks and dangers threatening triathletes. What are these risks?
In 2011, nine out of 12 triathlon-related deaths all occurred during the swim, and each death resulted from cardiac arrest. There are a number of theories as to why heart failure and death are most common during the swim. A U.S. Triathlon representative, Dr. Larry Creswell, attributes the deaths to undiagnosed heart abnormalities. Others suggest, however, that there is more at play. Too little time spent warming up, choppy water, and anxiety may trigger fast, or irregular, heartbeats. Tight wetsuits and extremely cold waters put pressure on the heart and arteries, which could also lead to heart failure. What can triathletes do to curb these risks?
What is the Safest Way to Train?
Most triathletes make the crucial error of training in the very same ways as traditional swimmers. Triathlon training programs, and especially triathlon swim training workouts, should be specific to the three-part race. Active.com recommends keeping in mind that triathletes will be swimming in open waters, and biking and running after. For that reason, experts recommend that swimmers breathe every two strokes (twice as often as athletic swimmers) during triathlon swim training workouts. Extra breathes will help triathletes create a reserve of oxygen, and that reserve can be tapped into during the biking and running portions. Warming up is also a critical step in the Ironman, and the World Triathlon Corporation announced that warming up will, as of 2012, be mandated at future competitions.
Swimming is the most difficult portion of the world-famous Ironman, and it is also responsible for the greatest number of triathlon-related deaths. Reap all of the rewards of completing the iconic Ironman, without putting your life at stake. Keep the three-part race in mind during all triathlon swim training workouts, and remain as safe, strong, and healthy, as possible.