Sports Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 12, pp 1659–1692 | Cite as

The Impact of Triathlon Training and Racing on Athletes’ General Health

  • Veronica VleckEmail author
  • Gregoire P. Millet
  • Francisco Bessone Alves
Review Article


Although the sport of triathlon provides an opportunity to research the effect of multi-disciplinary exercise on health across the lifespan, much remains to be done. The literature has failed to consistently or adequately report subject age group, sex, ability level, and/or event-distance specialization. The demands of training and racing are relatively unquantified. Multiple definitions and reporting methods for injury and illness have been implemented. In general, risk factors for maladaptation have not been well-described. The data thus far collected indicate that the sport of triathlon is relatively safe for the well-prepared, well-supplied athlete. Most injuries ‘causing cessation or reduction of training or seeking of medical aid’ are not serious. However, as the extent to which they recur may be high and is undocumented, injury outcome is unclear. The sudden death rate for competition is 1.5 (0.9–2.5) [mostly swim-related] occurrences for every 100,000 participations. The sudden death rate is unknown for training, although stroke risk may be increased, in the long-term, in genetically susceptible athletes. During heavy training and up to 5 days post-competition, host protection against pathogens may also be compromised. The incidence of illness seems low, but its outcome is unclear. More prospective investigation of the immunological, oxidative stress-related and cardiovascular effects of triathlon training and competition is warranted. Training diaries may prove to be a promising method of monitoring negative adaptation and its potential risk factors. More longitudinal, medical-tent-based studies of the aetiology and treatment demands of race-related injury and illness are needed.


Leptospirosis Overuse Injury Perceive Stress Scale Total Peripheral Resistance Index Training Diary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors gratefully acknowledge Professor Margo Mountjoy (CCFP, FCFP, FACSM, Dip Sports Med, IOC Medical Commission-Games Group; FINA Sports Medicine; McMaster University, Canada) for her invaluable comments on the penultimate version of the manuscript. Veronica Vleck is funded by the ‘Ciênca 2008’ post-doctoral research fellowship programme of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology). No other sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article. Veronica Vleck, Gregoire P. Millet and Francisco Bessone Alves have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica Vleck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gregoire P. Millet
    • 2
  • Francisco Bessone Alves
    • 1
  1. 1.CIPER, Faculty of Human KineticsUniversity of LisbonCruz Quebrada-DafundoPortugal
  2. 2.ISSUL, UNILLausanneSwitzerland

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