Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Tri Lingo

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 sapiens 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 general 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.

Arm warmers/coolers -sleeves which keep your arms warm in cooler weather and cool in warmer weather. They can be pushed down or rolled up and put in your back pocket as you ride. 

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 Bottle- a water bottle that is attached to the aero bars which makes drinking easier in the aero position.

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.  

Aqua/Bike- A dual sport event consisting of a swim and bike.

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

Athena - USAT's racing category for women who are 165 lbs or more. 

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).  

Base - base pace -swimmer's  pace they can hold for interval sessions.

Bento Box-a small bag that attaches to the top tube for food and/or tools. 

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

Bibs-cycle shorts that are attached to bib like portion which go over the shoulders. All one piece. 

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. 

Body Marking or Marking-in triathlons you are required to wear your race number on your body. Usually the upper arm, lower leg and sometimes the thigh. 

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.

Buoys-the floating markers in a triathlon that are used to indicate the course layout, distance and turns   

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. Carbs 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. 

Chamois Cream-cream or lotion which cyclists apply to the crotch area the help ease chafing from the saddle and cycling shorts. 

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.  

Clipless pedals-pedals on your bike that you "clip into" with your bike shoes. Your feet remain attached to the pedal so you can use full revolution in your pedaling. It is more efficient on your pedaling and your legs. 

Clydesdale -  USAT's racing category for men who are 220 lbs or more.

CO2 Cartridge-small cartridge of compressed air that enables cyclists to inflate flat tires quickly. 

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.  

"Crit" or Criterium-a short course bike race that is often in laps/circles. 

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.  

DFL- Dead "f***ng" last :-)

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

DNS - Did Not Start. 


Dolphin Dive-a way to enter the open water where the water is shallow. 

Down Tube-bar that runs from your handlebars and diagonally slopes down towards the back wheel. 

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.

Floating start- water start where feet do not touch the bottom.

"Fred"-someone who has all the newest and fanciest triathlon gear, but has no idea how to use it. 

Gels-sports nutrition used by endurance athletes in races due to the ease of digestibility, quick energy and convenience. Usually used to help keep you glycogen levels from dropping. 

GI Distress - Gastro-Intestinal condition resulting from carb 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 - 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. 

Kit(regular and racing)-cycling, racing clothing with matching tops and bottoms worn together. For triathlons, the chamois in the shorts is usually thinner so it dries fast after you get out of the water and transition to the bike.  

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.

Mdot- trademark logo for Ironman

Master's Swim-swim class, group or club for adult swimmers.

Mash-To push a higher gear while riding on a bike. 

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. Over-pronation - the excessive inward roll of the foot before toe-off. Over-pronation 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 continuous performance.

Paddles-shaped plastic attached to the hand which increasing resistance, which builds strength in the upper body. 

"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!"

Peloton-a large main group on a group ride.  Not allowed in Ironman racing. 

Podium- the first 3 competitors in each age group. 

Power Meter-a tool installed on a bike to measure the watts or kilojules of work a cyclist is producing. 

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.

Race Report- a post where you write about your great race experience.

Seat Post- The tube on the bike that attaches to your saddle and is typically adjustable.

Sew-Ups - See "Tubulars" below.

Short course-swimming 25/yards/meters 

Sighting-technique where an open water swimmer lifts their head slightly in order to see where they going, locate buoys, watch for other swimmer and to help to see dry land etc. 

Spin- to ride easy, in recovery mode, or pedal with very low resistance. 

Sprint - Anaerobic 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. Over-supination occurs when the foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating. A true over-supinating foot under-pronates 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 manufacturers, 2) free products given out at LA Tri Club events! 

T1(transition 1) - Swim-to-bike transition

T2(transition 2) - 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.

Time Trial-Typically a 20-180K ride at the maximum sustainable pace, usually performed in the aero position. The bike leg of most triathlons are defined as a time trial. 

Titanium - A light metal being used in bike manufacturing.

Top Tube-the tube that extends from the handlebars, between your legs, and horizontally back towards the back wheel. 

Trainer-nickname given to a stationary trainer that you lock your bike into, where indoor cycling or specific intervals can be easily done. 

Tri Bike-a nickname for a time trial bike, or aero bike, most commonly used in a triathlon. A lightweight bike with specific handlebars, seat post set ups, as well as weight modifications for riding in the aero position.

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 general avoiding a commensurate increase in time spent training.

Tubulars(tubes) / 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.  

Tubeless Tires- bicycle tires that do not have a separate tube that goes inside. 

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.

Wetsuit-Neoprene suit worn during open water swims whether training or racing. Not only keeps you warm, but makes you buoyant. 

Wetsuit legal-a triathlon in which the water is cold enough to allow a wetsuit. Usually 76 or below 

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.

Mission Statement: The LA Tri Club was established to provide a network of information, support services, training & racing activities, friendship and fun for all ages and abilities. The LA Tri Club is one of the largest triathlon clubs in the World with over 1800 members. Check out our Join page for more details on our organization.

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