The Fifth Discipline of Triathlon

Go go gadget stretching! Picture by Richard Sabel.

Go go gadget stretching! Picture by Richard Sabel.

Perhaps the most basic thing about triathlon is that it’s a sport that includes three disciplines (if you make the mistake of discussing it as three sports among triathletes, you’ll be swiftly disabused of that notion.)

Obviously, in order to do an IM you have to train for some serious endurance swimming, cycling, and running.  You also have to train to transition between them – transitions are often referred to affectionately as the fourth discipline. But then there’s all the stuff you, or at least I, have to do to get myself through two years of that kind of training – which almost becomes a fifth discipline.

For me it’s a lot of core work (planks, plank variations, and pilates), strength training (currently in the form of plyometrics), and a lot of stretching – aided by mats, massage therapists, a ladder barrel, foam rollers of various sizes and densities, and various implements from round and smooth, to cylindrical and spiky.  There’s a corner of my house that’s starting to look like some kind of kinky rehab center.

Obviously, I’m not trying to suggest that this is guaranteed injury prevention.  What I am saying is that, for me, there has been a strong correlation between doing what is necessary  to support the things I’m asking my body to do, and being able to keep doing those things. Training for an IM takes a ton of time, and it’s not just the swimming, cycling, and running – it’s also the stretching, core work, and strength training.  Still, I feel very sure that it will all be worth it in the end. And with that, I’m off to stretch!

More Cool Stuff:

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About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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8 Responses to The Fifth Discipline of Triathlon

  1. dnelle says:

    Hi Ragen! I love your updates here, I’m always so excited to see them in my inbox!

    I would love if you’d talk more about the stretching tools you use, especially any myofascial release tools that work for you. I find that the ones I’ve tried can’t handle how much I weigh (at least… it seems that way compared to when I watch others use them). I’ve had amazing success with foam roller bars but my next step is to buy one (rather than use the ones at the gym or my little travel one), and as a fat woman I’m wandering into unknown territory… Any tips/recommendations?


    • Hi Dnelle,

      I’m so glad that you like the updates! I got a foam roller that is higher density and it worked great for me. I also use The Stick rolling massager and I’ve had great luck with both of those (way better than in the old days when I was a kid and they had us roll our IT bands out on baseball bats and rolling pins!)



      • Courtney says:

        OMG, The Stick looks like exactly what I need. I’ve been having all sorts of problems resulting from tight/stiff calves & hamstrings!


  2. lsstrout says:

    The mental part seems to be the 5th disclipline. Kudos to you for staying focused!


  3. ebay313 says:

    Best wishes for the rest of your training! Planks are my favorite core exercises, I like wall planks RKC planks as some of my favorite variations 🙂


  4. tscateh says:

    I would also be interested to know more about your stretching routine, as I’ve always avoided stretching like the plague… 😉


    • Thanks for asking, I feel your pain. I have always struggled with flexibility work because I get bored. I do a combination of pilates and resistance stretching (where you stretch the muscle in a contracted position, often through a range of motion and with the assistance of props). Both of these help keep me interested during the work. I’m not naturally flexible (it took me a year of daily work to be able to do the splits) and so if I don’t work on it, I can definitely end up injured.

      Good luck!



  5. Stephanie says:

    For me the fifth discipline was meal planning/execution. I was training for a Sprint distance Tri and I got completely exhausted by planning, acquiring and assembling my food. Especially with the increase in my activity level I was eating up to 7-8 times a day to replenish even 80% of the calories I had burned. Entrance into triathlon as a sport should come with a personal chef/food shopper.


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