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Glossary of Triathlon Terms

by USA Triathlon

youth triathlonYou love to swim, bike and run, but all the triathlon vocabulary can be confusing! Aquathlon, T1, bricks — what do these multisport words mean? Check out the definitions of these key triathlon terms to help prepare for the new season.

Aerobars: Bike handlebars that allow athletes to ride in a tucked position.

Aquabike: A swim and bike combination race.

Aquathlon: A swim and run combination race.

Bricks: A workout that includes two different types of exercises back to back, such as a bike ride followed by a run.

Cooldown: Physical activity done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles.

Cross-train: Participating in various sports or exercises to work on different skills. 

DNF: Stands for did not finish.

DNS: Stands for did not start.

Drafting: When two or more cyclists ride close together to help reduce wind resistance and save energy.

Duathlon: A run, bike, run combination race.

Off-road triathlon: An open water swim, mountain bike ride, trail run combination race. 

Offseason: The time after competition season and before preseason. Can be used as a time to recover or work on new skills

PR: A personal record or your best time in a race of a specific distance. 

Race packet: The packet each athlete receives before a race. It usually includes a race number, swim cap and timing chip. 

Racing age: The athlete’s age on Dec. 31 of the competition year.

RPM: Stands for revolutions per minute, which is the number of turns a bike wheel makes in a minute.

T1: Transition 1 is the period between the swim and bike legs of a triathlon. During this stage, triathletes switch from their swim gear into their cycling gear.

T2: Transition 2 is the period between the bike and run legs of a triathlon. During this stage, triathletes switch from their cycling gear into their running gear.

Transition: area A marked area where athletes keep their equipment needed for a race. After each leg of the race, athletes return to transition to swap equipment before heading back onto the race course.

Triathlon: A swim, bike, run combination race. 

Warm-up: Light exercise before a race or workout to warm up your muscles.

Waves: When a race does not start in a mass, the race director will break athletes into groups called waves, often separated by gender and age groups.

Wetsuit: A close-fitting suit made of a rubber-like material and worn by swimmers when they are in cold water to keep their bodies warm.