Try A Tri – Swim, Bike, Run Your Way To The Triathlon Finish Line

Sherri Bike1The sport of Triathlon is on the rise with three times as many races popping up across the country. The greatest increases in participation are seen in the 30+ age group as this demographic is looking for a personal challenge and a way to stay in great shape. The swim, bike, run event is cross-training at its best and offers a healthy, active and fun culture and community.

But when someone decides to complete a triathlon, they are often overwhelmed with where to start and how to balance three separate events. This series will provide you with everything you need to know to get to the finish line of a Triathlon and get in great shape through the process.

Let’s start with analyzing the different Triathlon distances. In a typical triathlon, the first event is a swim, then you bike and then you finish with a run. Many think of the Ironman when they think of Triathlon but this just happens to be one of the various types of Triathlons and definitely not one you really want to start with.

Sprint or Short-Distance Triathlon:

The approximate distances are 750-800m Swim (1/2 mile swim) / 20km Bike (12.5 mile bike) / 5km Run (3.1 mile run).  This triathlon distance is experiencing the greatest growth most likely because it’s a manageable distance for the general population and will keep you in great shape without consuming your entire life. I prefer the title “Short-Distance Triathlon” since this event is so popular amongst recreational triathletes and the general population and as one of our clients said so perfectly “I don’t know why they call it a Sprint Triathlon because there will be no sprinting going on in my race!”

Olympic Triathlon:

1500m Swim (1 mile swim) / 40km Bike (25 mile bike) / 10km Run (6.2 mile run). This triathlon distance is the one you will see at the summer Olympics. This is a good challenge after you’ve mastered the Sprint Triathlon and will require a higher commitment to your training.

Half Ironman:

2km Swim (1.2 mile swim) / 90km Bike (56 mile bike) / 21km Run (13.1 mile run – Half Marathon). This distance is an incredible challenge but often more manageable than the full Ironman Distance and a good stepping stone distance to the ultimate challenge.


3.8km Swim (2.4 mile swim) / 180km Bike (112 mile bike) / 42km Run (26.2 mile run – Marathon) The ultimate test of your fitness and often on the bucket list of many triathletes. Training for this distance is often a year-long process and will consume many hours of your life so commitment and support from your friends and family is key.

Kids Triathlon:

Most Triathlons also offer a Kids Distance so make it a family affair and introduce your kids to this awesome sport and an active lifestyle.

When designing a program for a Triathlete wanna-be, we often will start with solo events like local fun runs or bike rides. Then you can start combining activities and registering for local duathlons that combine biking and running.  Another great way to get into the spirit of Triathlon initially without having to tackle the whole thing yourself is to sign up as a relay team with a few friends, family members or co-workers.  Each of you can take one of the legs (swim, bike or run) and think of it as great active and fun quality time. Often that will inspire someone to try the whole thing the following year.

We are hosting the Girlfriends & Dudes Triathlon, Duathlon and Kids Triathlon on Sunday July 20th as a fundraiser for the Children’s Center.  This event is perfect for new Triathletes because the ½ mile swim is in a calm section of the Columbia river at Frenchmans Bar so you get to swim with the current. Many of those fearful of the water love that if they just floated in the water, they’d get to the finish line in about 30 minutes and at any point, they can wade to the shore and touch down if they need a break.  The bike is a 12.5 mile flat ride and the 3.1 is on a flat, paved trail.  You can also donate an additional $25 to Children’s Center and get Charity VIP waive which means you get the best transition spot and get to start before everyone else. We also offer a Relay option, a Duathlon division and a Kids Race plus there will be a live band making it a really fun party!

Register HERE!

You can find other Triathlon distances by visiting either of the following websites.

Stay tuned next week as we review equipment needs and training for each of the 3 legs.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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