Super League Triathlon brought the sport of triathlon into the living rooms of millions of people on its inaugural weekend broadcast. While avid triathlon fans were in their element listening to our commentators talk about aero positions and time trials, those who only had a passing acquaintance with the sport found themselves stumped by its jargon.
In anticipation of our coming announcement, we’ve put together a list of terms you will most commonly come across in a Super League Triathlon broadcast. If you don’t see a term here, let us know so we can add it!
70.3: Triathlon distance consisting of a 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer bike ride, and 21-kilometer run; also known as half-ironman distance. The total distance covered in miles is 70.3.
140.6: Total distance in miles of a full ironman distance triathlon, consisting of a 2.4-mile/3.8-kilometer swim, 112-mile/180-kilometer bike ride, and 26.2-mile/42.2-kilometer run.
Aerodynamic/Aero Position: A way of positioning oneself on the bike to minimize air friction (drag) so that force generated by pedaling can more efficiently propel bike and rider forward
Aero Bars: Handlebars with arm pads placed lengthwise on the bike that allow triathletes to take an aerodynamic position.
AG(er): Age Group(er)
Big Gear: The larger gear on the front by the pedals that allows the athlete to push a harder pace at the same cadence.
Big Gear, No Fear: Richard Murray’s life motto
Bloody Oath: Australian slang for “You bet your a**”
Bonk: Onset of fatigue and loss of energy usually caused by the athlete mismanaging their energy output (“going hard from the gun”) depleting their body’s ready-access glycogen stores. Also known as “hitting the wall”.
BOP: Back of the Pack
BPM: Beats Per Minute (in reference to heart rate)
Break-away: A cycling tactic where a rider “attacks” and sprints away from a peloton; other riders may choose to “stay with”/join the breakaway, or remain in the peloton; in a triathlon, breakaways are used to gain a lead going into the succeeding leg of a race.
Brick: A combination of triathlon sports with a short transition time between sports; commonly bike-to-run
Cadence: See "RPM"
Crit: See "Criterium"
Criterium: Type of bike race where athletes accomplish laps on a short course. Athletes may be eliminated when they get "lapped"
DFL: Dead f***ing last
DNF: Did not finish
DNR: Did not race
DNS: Did not start
Dolphin Dive: Water entry or exit technique to get through shallow water; athlete dives forward, stands up, and repeats until it is either deep enough to swim or shallow enough to run through.
Drafting: Also known as slipstreaming in aerodynamics; a technique where an athlete aligns behind another athlete to take advantage of reduced drag/air resistance, enabling the drafting athlete to reduce energy expended to travel forward. Legal during the swim, but not allowed during the bike leg of most triathlons. ITU and Olympic triathlon events allow drafting on the bike. Super League Triathlon allows drafting on the bike for most of its formats except for Stage 1 of the Equalizer, which is an individual time trial.
Du: See "Duathlon"
Duathlon: A race consisting of bike and run legs; most duathlons are structured as run-bike-run but there are also other variations.
Eliminator: A Super League Triathlon format that consists of three stages of swim-bike-run, with the slowest athletes eliminated in each stage.
Equalizer: A Super League Triathlon format. First stage is an Individual Time Trial to determine starting positions and time gaps for the second stage’s swim-run-swim-bike-run.
Fartlek: Swedish term for 'speed play'; a form of interval training.
FOP: Front of pack
Half Mary: Half-marathon (13.1 miles/21.1 kilometers)
Hardware: Medal or trophy
HIM: Half-ironman; now more commonly referred to as 70.3
Hit the Wall: see "Bonk"
HR: Heart Rate
HRM: Heart Rate Monitor
IM: Ironman distance triathlon, consisting of a 2.4-mile/3.8-kilometer swim, 112-mile/180-kilometer bike ride, and 26.2-mile/42.2-kilometer run; less commonly referred to as 140.6.
Individual Time Trial: In cycling, an event during which the athlete competes alone to record his or her fastest time across a set course; the bike leg of a non-drafting triathlon is technically an individual time trial because athletes are disallowed from drafting which would aid them in going faster over the course. Stage 1 of the Equalizer is an individual time trial.
Interval Training: A workout that alternates periods of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity recovery
ITU: International Triathlon Union, the governing body for the disciplines of triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, and winter triathlon; sanctions the ITU World Cup and ITU World Triathlon Series and is aligned with the International Olympic Committee and made up of the national triathlon federations of the world.
Kit: Clothing for a sport, usually triathlon or cycling; includes jersey or singlet top and matching bottom or a one-piece race suit, head gear, and shoes
Lactate/Lactic Acid: An organic compound produced by the body as a byproduct of glucose (blood sugar) utilization by muscle cells; highly-trained athletes can re-metabolize lactate into glucose, while excess accumulation of lactic acid byproducts can cause a decrease in muscle contraction capacity, causing an athlete to slow down.
Lapped: When another athlete gets ahead by at least one lap or circuit of a course.
LBS: Local Bike Shop
LSD: Long Slow Distance
Mashing: Pedaling the big gear with a slower cadence with a strong emphasis on the downstroke of the pedal motion, instead of using a smaller gear for a quicker cadence and smoother pedal stroke
M-dot: A stylized M that Ironman uses as its identifying trademark
MOP: Middle of the Pack
MTB: Mountain Bike
Negative split: When the second half of a workout or race is accomplished faster than the first half
Oly: Olympic-distance or standard triathlon composed of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike ride, and 10-kilometer run; the distance over which triathlon at the Olympics is contested
OWS: Open Water Swim
PB: Personal best (also see "PR"); an athlete's best time over a certain distance
PE: Perceived exertion or effort
Peloton: The large main group in a draft-legal bicycle leg; riders that can “sit in” and stay with the peloton can save energy versus riders that have been “dropped” (left behind)
Periodization: Varying the training levels over discrete periods of time to prevent overtraining
PF: Plantar fasciitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a web-like ligament extending from the heel along the sole to the toes.
PR: Personal record (also see "PB")
Rabbit: A term borrowed from greyhound racing; an athlete in front of you who you target in an attempt to chase down and pass.
RD: Race Director
RPE: Rate of perceived exertion, a scale used to measure intensity of exercise
RPM: Revolutions per minute, referring to pedal strokes while cycling; unit of measurement for cadence
Split: The time elapsed for a portion of an athlete’s race; a split can refer to the overall time for a discipline (“swim split”), or the time elapsed per fraction of the overall distance of the discipline (“split per lap”).
Sprint: Short distance triathlon comprising a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride, and 5-kilometer run. Shorter distances are referred to as “super sprint”, such as those used in Super League Triathlon.
T1: Transition 1; the change area from swim to bike
T2: Transition 2; the change area from bike to run
TdF: Tour de France
Transition Area: The part of the race course where athletes keep their belongings used during a triathlon (i.e. wetsuit or swim skin, bike, bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, etc.); athletes change gear in transition according to the upcoming discipline. (See "T1" and "T2")
Tri-Bike: A bicycle specifically designed for riding in the aerodynamic position in a triathlon, with aero bars and a seat tube aligned to position the athlete’s body more forward over the pedals
Triple Mix: A Super League Triathlon format that involves three stages of swimming, biking, and running in various orders.
TT: Time Trial; an event during which an athlete competes against the clock to record either the fastest time over a distance, or the longest distance within a defined amount of time
TTT: Team Time Trial; a cycling event where athletes comprising a team race against the clock to record their fastest time over the distance, using slipstreaming/drafting techniques to rotate team members pushing hard in front while resting other team members in the back
Washing Machine: When referring to a mass swim start, the “washing machine effect” occurs when athletes swim very closely alongside each other creating turbulence in the water akin to that in a washing machine; athletes may get dunked underwater or encounter physical contact in “the washing machine”.
Wrench: Bike mechanic
(Featured photo: Clinton Barter)