26 Essential Slang Terms Every Triathlete Should Know


After being into triathlon for about a year, I also joined a local triathlon club. When I went to the first swim training, I heard the coach saying “I wrote down all of today’s drills on the whiteboard”. The session hasn’t even started yet and I was already confused, not really knowing what he was talking about. Back home, I did some research to find out, that with “drills” he meant the specific exercises. 

At some point, you may also get a bit confused with all the specific triathlon terms. But don’t worry – I created this list to get you covered for your next conversation with a fellow triathlete. 

70.3 – Also known as Half Ironman. 1,9km swim, 90km cycling, and 21,1km run. Those distances added up in miles lead to 70.3 miles.

140.6 – Ironman race: 3,8km swim – 180km cycling and 42,2km running.

Aerobars – Bike handlebar extensions that help you get into a more aerodynamic position

Age-grouper – Triathletes who do not hold professional or elite status. Age groups are typically divided up into five-year ranges

Brick session – Training that combines two or more disciplines. In triathlon, it makes sense to do swim-bike sessions or bike-run sessions

Cadence – in cycling: number of revolution one pedal is making per minute
in running: number of time both your feet are touching the ground per minute
in swimming: number of strokes in one minute (both arms are counting)

DNF – Did not finish

DNS – Did not start

Drafting – Riding closely behind another biker to profit from less wind resistance. Often illegal in triathlon races

Drill – A drill is an exercise which emphasizes a specific movement, for example improving your catch in swimming, or a single leg exercise while biking

DSQ – Disqualified

FTP – Functional Threshold Power which is the power you should be able to sustain for one hour

HR – Heart rate

Kona – The life dream of most triathletes! The Ironman World Championship is held annually in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii 

Kudos – Equivalent of the like button on Facebook for the athletes on Strava

Negative split – Finishing the second half of a race faster than the first one

Olympic distance – 1,5km swim, 40km cycling, and 10km run. 

OWS – Open water swim

PB – Personal best

PR – Personal record

Sprint distance – 750m swim, 20km cycling, and 5km run. Exact distances can slightly vary by event. A Super Sprint distance is simply half of that.

Taper – The couple of days (or a full week for an Ironman) before a race where training is reduced

Transition – Transitions occur between sports, so in triathlon between swimming and biking (also called T1) and between biking and running (T2). Some refer to it as the fourth sport in triathlon

TT – Stands for Time Trial. It can refer to a time trial race or the specific position a cyclist maintains during a time trial (= being on the aero bars)

Zones – It is used to know how hard you are currently working out. It can be based on % of FTP, % of Max HR. It depends on the sport and the software/coach you are using.

Now that you are equipped with the most common expressions, get out there and talk to some fellow triathletes about your passion!

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