KC Multisport


Here are some typical questions for athletes new to multisport:


  • Sprint – Varies per the race, usually about a 400-700 yd swim, a 8-15 mile bike, and a 2-4 mile run.
  • Olympic – 1.5k (.93mi) swim, 40k (24.8mi) bike, 10k (6.2mi) run
  • International – Similar to an Olympic distance, but can vary a little…maybe the swim is a little longer.
  • ½ Ironman – 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, 13.1mi run
  • Ironman – 2.4mi swim, 112mi bike, 26.2mi run


This is highly personal and dependent on your level of fitness and comfort with the three sports. Many people start out with a Sprint or an Olympic. If you are proficient at two of the three, an Olympic may be a good choice – providing you make the time to train for it. For the Sprint distances there are some great beginner series locally, such as the Heritage Park Triathlon, and Shawnee Mission Park Triathlon. Take things like this into consideration and don’t be shy. Talk to the folks you are training with and those with a little more experience to get a feel for things. Reach out to other KCM members.


Let’s start by saying that everyone is an individual and we all have different needs. You should ask yourself some questions: how much time can I give up for my training and still maintain balance with work/ family/ friends. Be realistic about your goals.

As far as the training itself goes, there is no substitute for good coaching with a real coach. We have some great coaches through KCM, so use their knowledge! But you’ve got to get started somewhere right? Picking up a triathlon training book at your local sporting goods store is often times a great place to begin putting together a workout plan. The amount of training depends on: your level of fitness, comfort level with each individual sport, amount of time you have available, and the distance of the race you’ve chosen. In general, it’s a good idea to do each activity at least twice per week, increasing your distances gradually. Don’t forget that weight training is an integral component of a training program, so you’ll be making time for that too.

Quite often, people’s goals are simply to finish the race, enjoy the experience and see what it’s all about. You might not be ready to invest in a formal coaching program. You just want to see if you like the sport enough to buy a real bike, right? KCM has some great options for free and low cost training (See our Training section). We have group bike rides, available swim workouts (group open water swims), and track workouts. The workouts are fun and butt-kicking at the same time. Our workouts are geared towards all levels of ability. Feel free to join in at any time but please introduce yourself to the other members to get to know other people. And feel free to ask questions. You’ll be guaranteed plenty of conversation and group workouts are great places to ask questions, meet new people and have a good time. And come for a swim in Shawnee Mission Park over the summer! Once you start some of the group workouts, you’ll begin learning all the training options that are out there.


Many guys wear a singlet (tight tank top) and a tri shorts. Many women wear a running bra and tri bottoms. Too much for you? Or too little I guess I should say? Options for the more modest: MEN: running shorts and a singlet/tank top. Most races will not let you go bare chested, no stripping in the transition area either. Women: Wear a running bra and the tri bottoms under your wetsuit then pull on some run shorts and maybe a tank top in the swim-to-bike transition. The tri bottoms are like a swimsuit bottom with bike short padding.


Wear clothing that will fit comfortably under your wetsuit. Avoid cotton! Stick to the “tech” fabrics whenever possible. Many men wear a singlet and tri-shorts. Women often wear a sports-bra or singlet and tri-shorts as well. Tri-shorts are simply bike shorts with a much thinner pad that will breathe nicely and dry fast. Most races will not let you go bare chested or do any stripping in the transition area. Members of KCM receive enough credit to purchase a club tri-top for free! If you’d like to, pull on some extra gear during your transition – maybe you’d like to run with socks on, or it’s chilly and you could pull on a shirt (making sure your race number will be visible).


When choosing your rack, pick a spot that you will be able to find EASILY. Maybe this is the last rack in the row or maybe this is the rack next to a tree or other marker. Sometimes you will not have a choice and the race officials will decide for you. In this case you might want to bring your own marker: a balloon, neon tape, duct-tape, a teddy bear whatever works for you! Make it visible. Do a practice run through before the start and make sure you can find your area. Set your stuff up on a towel in the order that you’ll need it. Be tidy. The more organized you are now the faster you will be later. Also, be sure to hang your bike by the seat. And don’t be shy to look around and copy what other folks are doing – we can all learn something from one another! You can always find a friendly KCM face and ask questions.

When setting up your bike it’s a good time to stop and think about your nutrition for a moment. Think about easy access. Many people tape gels to the frame of their bike, or maybe you have already pinned some of these to your race belt or outfit. This way you can just reach down and tear one off instead of fumbling around for it in a pocket.

Now that you’re all set up how do you get out of that wetsuit? It’s never pretty. And like your transition area, it’s all about how well you prepared beforehand. Use a body lubricant generously around your ankles and wrists to avoid having to hop around like a lunatic in a straightjacket.

When exiting the transition area with your bike it is a good idea to steer it by holding the seat, rather than the handlebars. This will help keep you from mangling your shins on the pedals as you go. Practice running with your bike in your bike shoes. Learn to love that ‘there’s no way this can be safe’ feeling.

Coming back in from the bike is called your T2. By this point, simple tasks like tying a pair of running shoes can seem a bit involved. A suggestion might be to try out elastic laces or a quick-cinch like you find on a backpack. Try several easy on/easy off options and see what one works best for you.

No matter how you set yourself up it is always best to practice transitioning before race day comes along. Now that you’re a triathlete you no longer can simply think about swimming, biking and running – but how you’re going to get from one to the other as well!


Again this is individual, it’s a trial and error process. As much as you are training physically for the race, you need to train nutritionally. As you get some races under your belt you will know what works for you. One important piece of advice: race day is not the time to try anything new! Train with what you’ll be racing with. Oftentimes this can mean doing some detective work and finding out what kind of sports drink/bars/gel’s are offered at your race and then train with that. If that doesn’t work for you, then plan on bringing your own.

The night before – A medium sized meal, heavier on the carbohydrates, not too much protein/fat/fiber. The “carbo loading” party the night before the race is not your free pass to eat 3 plates of spaghetti! Truly the Carbo Loading Party should be 2 nights before the race, this is when you want to increase your carbohydrate stores. For your first race think bland, nothing too crazy. This is probably not the time to try the spicy shrimp and scallop cream sauce. Drink lots of water for a couple days before the race (which you should be doing all the time anyway, right?). If it’s going to be a hot race, like Shawnee Mission Park Triathlon, consider incorporating some kind of sports drink with electrolytes and salts into your pre-race hydration plan.

The morning of – Again think medium to small sized, bland, carbohydrate based, low fat/protein. Common pre-race foods: bagels, toast, oatmeal, bananas. You want to avoid anything that can upset your stomach (especially when you throw in the stress and strains racing imposes on your gut!).

During the race – For a sprint distance you will likely not need anything except water or maybe a sports drink. For an Olympic distance or longer you need to develop an eating/drinking plan. What has worked for you in training? What are the weather conditions expected for the race? Is it going to be hot? If so make sure you are not just drinking water, you will need a sports drink to replace the electrolytes and salts you will lose through sweating. Do you need solid food? The gel-based supplements (PowerGel, Goo, Clif Shot, etc.) are based on simple carbohydrates/sugars that will enter your system quickly. You need to drink water with them. They will last in your system for about 45 minutes. The bars (Cliff bars, Power bars, etc) are composed of more complex carbohydrate and will take longer to get into your system. They are not a quick fix. For endurance sports, combing the benefits of both is a good way to go. For an Olympic distance many athletes will use 2-4 gel-based supplements and forgo the solid food. You need to decide what is right for you. If you choose to combine the two, one way is to cut the bar into small pieces and stick it to the toptube of your bike frame or put it into a Ziploc baggy. Alternate between a piece of a bar and some gel as you progress through the race, as consuming a whole bar at one time may make you visit the port-o-potties/bushes on the run portion of you race! The bike and transition area is a good place to consume the gels/bars (don’t compromise safety on the bike for a gel though!). Whatever you choose to do, try it out in training first.


If you're new to the sport of triathlon, it's important that you get up to speed on all the terminology that will help people to quickly recognize you as a tri geek!

Tri Geek (tr) (gk) n. A unique sub-species of the broader homo sapien tribe known as "Triathletes." Distinguished from general triathletes by their propensity to consistently increase their expenditures on any and all equipment, nutrition, and technology to aid in the elusive goal of improving performance while generall avoiding a commensurate increase in time spent training.

Age Group / Age Grouper - Refers to non-professional participants in races. So called because participants officially compete against other racers in the same age bracket (Men 30-34, for example).

Aluminum - Light-weight metal used in bike frame construction. Generally lighter than steel, but not as strong. Thus, "oversized" tubing is used to create strong yet light-weight bike frames.

Aero/Aerodynamic- A description usually applied to bikes, but is applicable to any design or modification that reduces wind-drag and results in an object traveling faster through air using the same amount of energy.

Aero Bars - Handle bars that stretch the rider out over the wheel and lowers the body closer to the bike frame, resulting in less surface area and, thus, less wind-drag.

Aero Wheels - Generally, any wheel design that eliminates spoke count, presents a more narrow surface contact (i.e. the internal edges of the wheel are sharper, the blades are flatter) and creates less wind drag.

Aerobic - Exercising where the muscle cells have sufficient oxygen.

Anaerobic- Exercising (or performing any physical activity) where the muscle cells lack sufficient oxygen. Example: sprints.

AT- Anaerobic Threshold. This is the physical point in exercise where oxygen consumption results in lactic acid production exceeding lactic acid removal.

Athena -

ATP- Adenosine TriPhosphate is the basic compound that muscles burn to make energy (carbohydrates, fat, everything is broken down to this compound for energy production).

Biathlon - A dual-sport event, commonly existing of a bike and run race. Can be any two sports.

Bi-lateral Breathing - The act of taking breathes from alternate sides of the body while swimming. Most swimmers have a predominate side from which they take their breathes, but bi-lateral breathing helps increase balance in the water and is useful if waves are "breaking" over one side.

Bonk - Running out of energy during racing or training due to insufficient energy consumptions. "Bonking"...also "Hitting the Wall."

BPM - Beats Per Minute, referring to heart rate.

Brick- The combination of a Bike and Run work-out. Used to simulate race conditions, allows racers to acclimate to the feelings of moving rapidly from a cycling motion to a running motion.

Cadence - The measurement of a certain revolution. Generally applied to pedal rotations per minute, or in running, strides per minute.

Carbohydrate - simple sugars and starches that provide a quick source of muscle energy. One gram has 4 calories. Carbos are plentiful in fruits, grains, potatoes, breads, bagels, pasta, etc., and once converted in the body to glycogen, are stored in the liver and muscles. It is the musclesǃ preferred endurance fuel, but human body can store only about 4,000 calories of carbohydrate.

Carbon/Carbon Fiber - A very light and very strong material "adopted" by the cycling community to help create equipment while shaving weight. Used in manufacturing various pieces of equipment from bike frames, to cranks, to handlebars, to soles of cycling shoes, to wheels, etc.

Chainrings- The discs with teeth on the bike that are turned by the pedals. The chain wraps around the rings, locked in place by the teeth. Rotation of the rings causing the chain to revolve which, in turn, rotates the rear wheel.

Clincher - A type of bike tire which has a u-shape on a cross-section. The tube is inserted into the tire, and the tire is then mounted onto the wheel and held in place by hooking the beads (the ends of the "u") under lips going around the outside edges of the wheel.

Clydesdale -

Cool Down - The period after a work-out where the person is still exercising, but at a slow and relaxed pace so as to allow the muscles to pump out some of the lactic acid.

Cranks - These bike components are the "arms" between the pedals and the chainrings which transfer the pedal motion to the chainrings.

Derailleur - A bike component that rests over the chainrings (front derailleur) and over the gear cluster (rear derailleur). the purpose is to lift and lower the chain onto a new gear ring.

Disc Wheels - A wheel that has no spokes, but is instead has a disc "face". This design eliminates wind drag created by spokes - but it also catches cross-winds.

DNF - Did Not Finish. Refers to someone who officially started a race but does not finish it.

DNS - Did Not Start.

Drafting - The act of following very close behind the person in front. In cycling this reduces wind resistance, thus making cycling easier and faster - it is also banned in most events (except the Olympics and draft-legal I.T.U. events). In swimming, the act of swimming right behind the toes of another swimmer - cuts down on water drag. Generally, this is legal in all races. In running, following right behind another runner - also helps cut down on wind drag and is very helpful when running into headwinds.

DQ - Abbreviation for "Disqualified."

Duathlon - A dual sport event generally consisting of three stages. Most common structure is a run-bike-run format.

Fartlek - Means "speed play" and is a form of speed workouts in running similar to interval training.

GI distress - Gastro-Intestinal condition resulting from carbo imbalances, muscular and digestive tract problems.

Glucose - a sugar, energy-producing fuel of the cells.

Glycogen - a sequence of glucose molecules that forms the principal carbohydrate storage material in the body and muscles preferred fuel for endurance exercise.

Glycogen window - period within one to two hours after exhaustive exercise that refuels the muscles more rapidly than if feeding is delayed.

Granny gear - smallest bike chainring combined with largest cog, used mainly for climbing.

Half-Ironman Distance / 70.3 - Refers to a race with the following events: 1.2 mile swim; 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Popular local races of this distance include Wildflower and the Half-Vineman.

HRM / Heart Rate Monitor - A device that, as the name implies, monitors the heart rate of the person wearing it during exercise. Gaining fast popularity in both training and racing.

Intervals - A speed workout that is composed of running faster paces mixed with slower paces.

Ironman Distance - The race distance named (and trademarked) after the original Hawaii Ironman. Owned by the WTC, the name refers to a triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run (marathon).

Ironman Qualifier - Designates a race which offers qualifying spots to the Hawaii Ironman World Championship. These qualifying spots are generally handed out to age-group winners and top finishers.

IT Band - Ilio-Tibial Band. This is a long tendon band that stretches from the buttocks, down the outer length of the leg. Since the band stretches across the outside of the knee, tension along the band may cause it to rub against the knee, resulting in inflammation - a painful condition called ITB Syndrome.

ITU - The International Triathlon Union. This is a governing body that oversees and regulates races across the world. Generally, I.T.U. points are used to determine world champions.

Kick Board - A floatation device used in swim training. Generally held in front of the body to keep the torso afloat so as to allow the swimmer to concentrate on kicking exercises.

Lactic Acid - A by-product of muscles burning ATP for fuel. Causes the burning feelings in muscles and results in fatigue.

LSD - Long Slow Distances - used to describe longer runs art a slower pace. Helpful in building a distance base.

Maximum Heart Rate - Literally the highest heart rate that a person's heart can beat. Gradually decreases with age.

Negative Split - The measurement where the second half of an event is completed faster than the first half (e.g. in a marathon, the first 13.1 miles at 1:45, while the second 13.1 miles are run at 1:42:30.)

Olympic Distance - A race consisting of the following events: a 1.5 km swim, a 40 km bike and a 10 km run. Named after the distances of the actual Olympic triathlon.Over distance - a training concept of going longer than the anticipated distance of an event.Overpronation - the excessive inward roll of the foot before toe-off. Overpronation is believed to be the cause of many running injuries.Overtraining - declining performance and deep-seated fatigue, both physical and mental, caused by excessive training loads, high stress levels and carbohydrate consumption insufficient to fuel continious performance.

"PB" - Personal Best. A term used to designate one's best time for a given race. Example: "I just "PB'd" at Vineman, finishing in just under 6 hours!"

Pull Buoy - A swim training device. Generally a figure-8 shaped floating material that is held between the swimmers thighs. This allows the legs to be kept afloat without any kicking action, allowing the swimmer to concentrate on arm exercises.

Sew-Ups - See "Tubulars" below.

Sprint - Anerobic running, generally on track. Can be maintained for short distances.

Sprint Distance - Generally, any race with distances that are shorter than an Olympic Distance.

Steel - Formerly, the most common material used in bike frames. Classic frame-makers such as Pinarello, Colnago, De Rosa, etc. all used steel. Now, as many manufacturers are trying to find ways to decrease the weight of bikes, lighter materials such as carbon, titanium and aluminum are being utilized.

Supination - the opposite of pronation. It's an outward rolling of the forefoot that naturally occurs during the stride cycle at toe-off. Oversupination occurs when the foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating. A true oversupinating foot underpronates or does not pronate at all so it doesn't absorb shock well. It is a rare condition occurring in less than 1 percent of the running population.

Swag (aka "schwag") - 1) free products given out at races, festivals, or expos by manfacturers, 2) free products given out at KCMultisport Club events!

T1 - Swim-to-bike transition

T2 - Bike-to-run transition

Tempo runs - sustained effort training runs, usually 20 to 30 minutes in length, at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10k race pace. Another way to gauge the pace of tempo runs - a pace about midway between short-interval training speed and your easy running pace.

Titanium - A light metal being used in bike manufacturing.

Tri Geek - A unique sub-species of the broader homo sapien tribe known as "Triathletes." Distinguished from general triathletes by their propensity to consistently increase their expenditures on any and all equipment, nutrition, and technology to aid in the elusive goal of improving performance while generall avoiding a commensurate increase in time spent training.

Tubulars / Sew-Ups - A type of tire which has the tube encased in the tire which is then "sewn" shut. The whole tri/tube is then glued onto a tubular wheel set.

USAT - U.S.A. Triathlon - this is the United States' governing body of triathlons. Generally will sanction races and provide guidelines/rules. Also licenses race participants.

V02 max - the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can take in to produce work, usually measured in of oxygen per kilogram of body weight. Elite athletes can record scores of 80 ml/kg or above.

Wind Trainer - An indoor training device for bicycles. Generally, the rear wheel is locked into place onto a cylinder. The front wheel can be left on or removed and the forks mounted to a clamp (depending upon make and model). As the rider pedals, the wheel causes the cylinder to rotate. Sometimes fans or magnets are connected to the cylinder to provide a means of resistance, thus making the work-out more challenging.

WTC - the World Triathlon Corporation is the owner of the "Ironman" trademark and is the promoter/governing/licensing body which oversees all official Ironman races.

KC Multisport is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization operating in the beautiful Midwestern Kansas City region
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