With so many acronyms, abbreviations and technical terms it can’t half be confusing even understanding the simplest of articles, conversations or podcasts. Never fear, whether you’re a complete newbie to Tri or a seasoned veteran there is sure to be something in our Jargon Buster to help you!

AERO- this can be referring to a tear drop aero helmet or getting into the triathlon tri bar position making you more aerodynamic when cycling.
AEROBIC – exercise that uses oxygen usually under 80% of MHR (maximum heart rate) for that sport. Expect the maximum to be higher for the run than the cycle and higher for the cycle than the swim.
AEROBARS – using aero or clip on tri bars allows you to be more aerodynamic than standard drop cycle bars. If your set up is correct you will be lower and narrower at the front in the aero position and will go faster for less energy.
ANAEROBIC - exercise without using oxygen approx 80/85% of MHR.
ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD (AT) – the training zone that you can only maintain for about 60 minutes.
AQUATHON – Non-stop swim and run event.
ARHR – Average Resting Heart Rate is the number of beats per minute your heart beats when you wake up in the morning.
BAR END SHIFTERS –to avoid coming out of the aero tri bar position you have gear levers fitted to the ends of the aero bars/tri bars so you can change gear.
BIKE FIT – spending time getting your bike to fit you will improve your performance and comfort and allow you to run well after. Expect it to take 1,000 miles (1600km) before you and your muscles get use to any changes in position. Seek expert advice and expect to take an hour to make adjustments.
BP – BP1 Breathe every stroke, BP2 Breathe every 2 strokes, B3 Breathe every 3 strokes.
BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL – amount of glucose currently in the blood.
BONK – it’s the feeling when an athlete runs out of energy, like hitting the wall in the marathon. Light headed, very low blood energy available. In many circumstances difficult to carry on or a drastic reduction in speed.
BRICK SESSION – This is combing two sports together. It is usually a bike to run or swim to bike for triathlon or a run to bike for duathlon. A multiple Brick session can be a bike then run followed shortly after by another bike then run. High intensity keeps good form.
BTF – British Triathlon Federation is the national governing body for the sport of triathlon in Great Britain. www.britishtriathlon.org
CADENCE – The frequency of your legs spinning on a bike or number of strides per minute when running. If you do not have a cadence monitor count your strokes or steps for 15 seconds and multiply four times for your cadence for 60 seconds.
CARDIAC DRIFT – this is the increase in heart rate not caused by going faster but as a result of fatigue, dehydration and heat.
CHIP TIMING – this is a transponder that is unique to each athlete. When an athlete crosses the start line, intermediate timing mats and the finish line their times are recorded. In a triathlon you attach it to some neoprene and wear it around your ankle for the swim bike and run.
COMPRESSION CLOTHING – the clothing is designed to push the blood back towards the heart which will then delay the onset of lactic acid build up. Compression clothing also works because it is designed to compress and hold the muscles together in their correct anatomical position. Manufactures claim that they hold muscles together, reducing muscle vibration which then reduces the fatigue created by this vibration.
CO2 (Cartridge) – Used with a fitment to put air into a tyre in seconds, saving precious time should you get a flat.
CROSS TRAINING (CT) – this can be a different exercise to your main sport. i.e. if you compete in triathlon swimming cycling and running you may cross train on a rowing machine. Cross training can also be referred to as two consecutive exercises or using two muscle groups at the same time.
CrossFit – is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman. It consists of varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
DECA IRONMAN – 10 times the ironman distance. The athlete swims 24 miles, cycles 1112 miles then runs 262 miles.
DNF – did not finish the race.
DNS – did not start the race.
DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is damaged caused by microscopic damage to muscle fibers. Soreness or pain usually gets worse in the 24 hours after exercise that caused it. Expect pain to go without treatment in 2-7 days.
DOUBLE IRON – this is a triathlon that is twice the Ironman distance 4.8 mile swim 224 miles cycling and 52.4 miles running. Non-stop no sleep CONTINOUS triathlon.
DRAFTING – swimming or cycling the slip stream of another competitor will save energy. There is often a drafting zone in cycling, if you stay inside this distance you can get a time penalty or disqualified. Check your specific race information for more details.
DRAFT BUSTERS - are marshals on motorbikes or stationary referees who look for anyone breaking the rules in a non-drafting triathlon. Depending on the severity of the offence you can be given a warning or a time penalty that is either added to your time or you are held in a penalty box.
DRILLS – This can be a swim, cycle or run drill. Emphasis on one part of the movement. Swim drill could involve catching the water getting more feel or the push back phase. Cycling drill could be single legged cycling emphasis to improve a full circular movement or working on lifting the knee up rather than just pushing down. Running drill could put emphasis on more economical movement reducing contact time on foot landing and pushing off. Improving leg kick and better use of the arms to help you run faster.
DQ – when DQ appears after the name of an athlete in the results it means that they have been disqualified. Always read the race information, obey the race rules and concentrate.
DUATHLON – Run bike run. The standard powerman distance is 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run.
ENDURANCE ZONE – is the training zone when you train at 60-70% of max heart rate to build up endurance.
FARTLEK (Swedish word for speed play) – Running, usually off road either structured (time or distance) or unstructured (as you feel different distances) fast and slow speeds: not necessarily flat out intervals just a change of pace.
FUEL BELT – used for carrying fluids, gels bars and salt tablets generally during the run section.
GELS – a pouch containing energy. Check each individual packet as calories can vary with even with different each flavours. Make sure that you have tried the gels before you race as they can upset your stomach.
GLUCOSE – small amount of carbohydrate in the blood available and ready to use for energy.
GPS – Global positioning system using satellite technology. Tells you where you are. The top spec ones tell you how far you have travelled, height climbed, heart rate and other information.
HIT THE WALL – a phrase coined from the marathon where you felt you had literally hit the wall and had stopped and could not go any further. Sudden dip in energy levels that cause a sudden drop in speed.
HYPERTONIC DRINKS – Hyper means more.This type of drink is known as a high energy drink and has a concentration of 10 % which is much higher in carbohydrate than isotonic drinks. They provide large amounts of quick energy but hydration is much slower than an isotonic drink which is absorbed into the body the quickest. Getting the balance right between enough energy & hydration is crucial for optimum performance. We are all different and you need to adapt your drinks to also suit the environment so don’t use the same drinks for all conditions. Remember to experiment in training first before a big competition.
HYPOTONIC DRINKS – Hypo means below. This type of drink is known as a carbohydrate –electrolyte drink and has a concentration of 3-4 % which is lower in carbohydrate than isotonic drinks. This drink will contain electrolytes like sodium needed to maintain performance. This should be your preferred choice for racing when it is hot or humid or both especially when sweat rates increase.
HR – Heart Rate.
HRM – Heart rate monitor.
HYDRODYNAMIC – the force on an object in the water. Wetsuits are designed to create less resistance so you can swim faster.
ILT - Isolated leg training by applying pressure on only one leg. This practice is often done on a gym spin bike or turbo trainer.
INTERVALS – hard intensity training with recovery between. A longer recovery is taken to enable a fast pace during the intensity or a short recovery to build up endurance and get use to extreme fatigue. Intervals work because you train the HEART and MUSCLES to work at higher ranges then the heart has to recover in a fatigued state. Fitness is all about recovery and improving cardiovascular endurance.
IRONMAN 70.3 – This is the official name for the half distance of the Ironman Triathlon so named because you swim bike and run 70.3 miles.
IRON DISTANCE – 2.4 mile swim , 112 mile cycle, 26.2 mile run.
IRONMAN FAMILY – when you have completed an Ironman you are part of the Ironman family.
ISOTONIC DRINKS - contain 5-8% (5-8grams of carbohydrate per 100ml of water). Most drink manufacturers use this concentration in their ready to drink sports drinks. 5-8% is considered to be the best ratio to improve absorption & performance
LACE LOCKS – a quick release system for fast entry into running shoes.
LACTIC ACID – produced during exercise due to the incomplete break down of glucose in the production of energy when in intense exercise. A by-product of anaerobic work which slows and can stop muscle contraction.
LACTATE THRESHOLD (LT) – this is when the blood lactate reaches a level in the blood during intense exercise and accumulates faster than the body can get rid of it. This can be tested and is a much better indicator for the endurance athlete than the test for V02 maximum. You have to be rested for 96 hours before this type of testing to get an accurate result, hard training in the 4 days before could give you a lower result.
M-DOT – The official name for the Ironman logo. Ironman finishers will often have the M Dot tattoo put on their lower leg.
MHR – maximum heart rate.
MIDDLE DISTANCE TRIATHLON (70.3) – often referred to as 70.3 (miles) 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike 13.1 mile run.
MULTI-SPORTS – events such as Aquathon, Decathlon, Pentathlon and Triathlon, those events that combine more than one sport.
NEGATIVE SPLIT – Completing the second half quicker than the first half swimming, cycling, running or any other sport.
NEUTRAL GAIT– this is a running style that needs a stable flexible running shoe. Under 25% of runners have a neutral gait, others over-pronate or under pronate.
OLYMPIC DISTANCE TRIATHLON – Or Standard Distance, 1500m Swim 40km Bike 10km Run.
OVER-PRONATION – When running there is too much motion at the top of the foot and the foot rolls inwards. Often as a result of a flexible foot.
OVERREACHING – create extra fatigue to improve i.e. a training camp or an increase block of training, but needs 2-14 days to recover to notice any benefits.
PR – Passive recovery.
PERIODISATION – describes the training year and its phases. Each phase has a part to play in total fitness. E.g. Microcycle last 7 days, Mesocycle lasts 4 weeks Macro cycle lasts 12 months. Quadrennial cycle lasts 4 years and is also known as an Olympic. Long term cycle is the whole career of the athlete.
PONTOON – This is the floating jetty for triathletes to dive from at the start of some triathlons.
POST RACE NUTRITION – Hydration and the “carbohydrate window “of opportunity is when your muscles have the best ability to refuel. It is helpful to refuel within 30 or 40 minutes of finishing the race or training session.
PRONATION – helps the foot absorb shock by naturally rolling forward.
PYRAMID SET – this is a set where you build up the distance then reduce the distance again. A pyramid 1500m swim session could be a broken down into the following:
RACE BELT – Attach your race number to your elasticised belt. Pin your number onto the belt. Have the number showing on your back for the bike, pull belt round so you can display your number on the front for the run.
REPETITION – this is often referred to as a rep for short. The whole of the effort i.e. 100m swim or 400m run often with a short rest or active recovery between each rep.
REST DAYS – novice or athletes who underperform ignore having rest days while the experienced athletes know how important they are and don’t shout from the roof tops their importance. This is when your body recovers. Elite athletes who have been endurance training for 5 or more years may often have VERY EASY active recovery days but remember they have more rest per day anyway; they may train much more but will have extra sleep and quality rest between training.
REST INTERVALS (RI) – this is the recovery time between efforts, sets or reps.
RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR) - is the calories burned (needed) daily without calories required for activity.
RP – race pace efforts. + RP = faster than race pace for shorter periods. –RP slower than race pace.
RPE – race pace efforts.
RPM – Revs per minute while cycling.
SET – a number of repetition efforts is a set. SHOT – a shot describes energy consumed from a gel to avoid hitting the wall. SPLITS – The different parts of your Triathlon, the Swim, The time it takes to exit the swim get to your bike exit transition, the time it takes to cycle the bike leg, the time it takes to enter transition rack your bike and exit again, the time it takes to complete the run section. Your total race will be divided into split times.
SPECIAL NEEDS BAG – the bag you are given at the ironman to put your favourite foods and drinks in. It is then handed to you during the bike section.
SPORTS BARS – A bar containing energy. Check each individual packet as calories can even vary with different each flavours from the same brand. Make sure that you have tried the bars before you race as they can upset your stomach.
SPRINT TRIATHLON – the standard distance for the sprint triathlon is 750m swim 20km cycle 5km run.
T1 - Transition one, from swimming to bike section.
T2 – Transition two, from cycling to running.
T3 – often referred to as recovery or sleep.
TAPER – You reduce the volume & intensity or both prior to a competition to allow the body to recover and store extra energy.
TEMPO TRAINING - builds up strength needed during a marathon or endurance event. It develops your anaerobic & lactate threshold which is vital for faster running or being able to cope with running long distances easier. e.g. in running 10km pace is hard running for 30-55 minutes. Effort level 9 out of 10 Tempo running is a hard effort that is easier than 10km pace Effort level 7.5 to 9 out of 10.
TIT – Triathlete in Training!
TRASHED – an athlete that has paced themselves well hydrated and had correct nutrition has performed to the best of their ability will have extended themselves and will feel like trash, wasted.
TRIATHLETE – an athlete who has competed in a Swim Bike Run multi-sport event called a Triathlon.
TARGET HEART RATE ZONES –they are a range of zones designed for a specific purpose. Makes you more productive with your time. They are called recovery 55-70%, endurance 60-75%, aerobic & tempo 70-80%, and anaerobic threshold 80-90%. All zones are required to improve overall fitness, knowing how much time you spend in each zone is the secret to success to improve different components of fitness.
TRI-SUIT - a one piece suit that you use to swim bike run so you do not need to change clothes during the triathlon saving time. Made from quick drying breathable with a chamois. A two piece tri-suit has more ventilation, is cooler and allows more movement.
TT – time trial efforts. Riding the bike for a specific distance as fast as possible. Commonly distances vary from 10 to 100 miles.
TUCK – in the aerodynamic position.
TURBO – is an indoor bike accessory that attached to the rear wheel and creates resistance. A stationary trainer is ideal when the weather is not suitable (Dark Cold Windy Icy etc) and you can work much harder, in safety and stop whenever you need to. Also, you can train more scientifically to a planned session without having to worry about other road users or pot holes.
TYPE 1 MUSCLE FIBER – small aerobic muscle that can produce easy & steady efforts for long periods of time. High resistance to low fatigue and slow contraction time.
TYPE 2 MUSCLE FIBER – muscles that can produce high energy efforts. Low resistance to fatigue but fast reaction time.
UNDER PRONATION (supination) – a running style that has a rigid foot motion. When the foot hits the ground it rolls along the outside edge. A minority of runners run this way so there is a limited number of shoe made for this type of gait. Injuries can occur if you have a high arch as you cannot absorb the shock and so need a cushioned sole.
VO2 – maximum oxygen uptake capacity of a person to use oxygen during one minute. for up to 2 minutes. An elite athlete would have a V02 max of 75.

Abridged version taken from http://www.ironmate.co.uk/complete-atoz-triathlon-jargon