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Triathlete’s Top 20 Articles of 2021

What a year! We take a look back at the most popular stories of 2021.

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After a weird 2020, most of us didn’t really know what to expect for 2021. Would races come back, or would they be canceled again? Would the Olympics and Paralympics actually happen? And how about those virtual events—were they a pandemic fad, or the future of racing? Most of us entered 2021 with high hopes but low expectations—and as it turns out, that was probably the best strategy. After all, who would have expected the iron-distance world record to fall twice in the same year? Or that triathlon mixed relay would turn out to be the most exciting event at the Olympic Games? Or that every 2021 North American Ironman would sell out, thanks to entries rolling over from the previous years combined with a renewed multisport interest? Or that the Ironman World Championship would finally offer separate racing days and equal-sized fields for men and women? As we gear up for 2022, here’s a look at the top stories you all read on Triathlete this year.

#20: Coaches Share the Worst Triathlon Advice They’ve Heard

Bloopers and blunders are almost a rite of passage in triathlon, teaching us what works (and perhaps more importantly, what completely, definitely, absolutely does not work at all). From buffets on the bike to panic training, avoid these very dumb things coaches have seen over the years.

#19: Olympian Andy Potts Finds New Spark as Guide for First-Time Paralympian Kyle Coon

On Friday, Aug. 27 blind triathlete Kyle Coon made his Paralympic Games debut in the visually-impaired (PTVI) division. The guide by his side? The highly-decorated pro and Ironman champ Andy Potts, who, at 44, remains one of the fastest long-course athletes in the game. The experience bonded them as good friends—and offered Potts unexpected bonus time on the world’s stage in the twilight of his pro career.

#18: The Science Behind Low-Carb High-Fat Diets for Tri

Low-carb, high-fat diets may be popular, but there’s a lot to know about how LCHF applies to triathlon training and racing. We take a deep dive into the delicate risk/reward proposition.

#17: Beth Potter Just Ran a World Record 5K—So Why Is She Doing Triathlon?

It’s been a very good year for UK triathlete Beth Potter. After a win at the Super League Arena Games this spring, Potter set a world record for a road 5K in 14:41. Our British correspondent analyzes what the 29-year-old’s future holds and why she’s picked triathlon over running (at least for now).

#16: Training Plan: Returning to Swimming After a Break

Some took a few weeks or a few months off swimming when pools were closed; others took a few years off for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. Whatever the reason, we’re just glad you’re back in the pool—and to help things along, we’ve prepared this three-week training plan to get back in the water.

#15: 7 Yoga Poses to Release Tight Shoulders

Dealing with a pesky twitch in your shoulder? Having trouble moving your arms around or getting loose before a swim? A tight shoulder may be the culprit, and these yoga moves can help provide relief.

#14: The Training Secrets Behind the Norwegians’ Phenomenal Ironman Debuts

The 2021 Ironman debuts of Norwegian teammates Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden not only saw world-best times come tumbling down—they also led to plenty of jaws dropping and folks asking: “How on earth did they do that?” We asked the experts—including Blummenfelt’s coach—to analyze the training behind the massive performances.

#13: 8 Questions to Determine If You’re Cut Out For Ironman

The iron distance demands respect. What does it take to be ready to tackle one of triathlon’s longest days? And who probably shouldn’t?

#12: Tri 101: How to Get Started in Triathlon

You did it! You signed up for your first triathlon! Now what? We’ve got your complete guide to crossing the finish line of your first triathlon. With an influx of new triathletes this year, how to get started was one of our most popular reads. Share this with your tri-curious friends—and don’t forget to invite them to join you at your next race!

#11: The Top 7 Easiest Ironman 70.3 Courses

We ran the numbers and asked the pros so you can find the easiest 70.3 races in your area. Behold our list of the half iron-distance races with some of the fastest routes to the finish line!

#10: Jan Frodeno Sets World Record at Battle Royale

Following some Instagram ribbing between Frodeno and Sanders earlier this summer, the Battle Royale was created as a showcase of the two athletes: a two-person race on empty roads in the Allgäu region of southern Germany, chosen specifically for its speed. On that day, Frodeno set a new world record for 140.6 miles: 7:27:53. This record was quickly broken by Kristian Blummenfelt, who clocked a 7:21:11 at Ironman Cozumel (see article #14).

#9: Ironman Hints World Championships Could Be Moved From Kona

It was the announcement that got everyone buzzing. After Ironman canceled the 2020 Ironman World Championship race due to travel restrictions on the Big Island, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick suggested the event could be moved out of Kona for the first time in nearly 40 years. The announcement spurred a hearty debate: Are there better locations for the Ironman World Championship event, or is Kona the one true home for the race?

#8: Ironman 2021 World Champs Moves to St. George, 2022 Becomes Two-Day Race in Kona

A week after Messick’s announcement, it was official: St. George, Utah was announced as the host of the 2021 Ironman World Championship race, which will take place in May of 2022. The world championship event will return to the Big Island in October 2022—this time, as a two-day event with separate days and equal-sized fields for the men’s and women’s races.

#7: Recalled: The Hand-Holding Finish Seen ‘Round The World

Ahead of the Olympic Games, contributor Sarah Wassner Flynn took a look back at how a display of sportsmanship between two countrywomen roiled triathlon’s rulebooks.

#6: A Nutritionist Shares What a Month of No Alcohol Did to His Body

Debating Dry January? Sports nutritionist Scott Tindal experimented with giving up alcohol for a month—and was surprised to see just how much it benefited him.

#5: The Key to Strength Training for Triathletes

Thirty minutes is a mere 2% of your day, but that’s all it takes for successful strength training for triathletes. Make the most of this time with these expert tips for strength training. Want even more information? Visit our comprehensive guide to strength training for triathletes.

#4: The Top 7 Easiest Ironman Courses

Let’s go ahead and get it out of the way: No 140.6-mile race is “easy.” But of the branded Ironman races on the circuit (there are currently 54), some courses lend themselves to faster times than others.

#3: Outpouring of Support for Daniela Ryf as the World Champ Opens Up About Her Sexuality

In an interview with Swiss paper Schweizer Illustrierte, the nine-time world champion said she’d struggled with pressure since her 2018 Kona win and had been evaluating what makes her happy. Most noteworthy, she revealed she’d fallen in love with a woman, which also surprised her since she had only loved men before. “I don’t want to hide,” she said. “I also want to set an example and say: live and let live. Love and let love.”

#2: Tim O’Donnell Reveals He Suffered Heart Attack During Challenge Miami

In a surprising announcement on Aug. 12, multi-time Ironman and 70.3 champion, and 2019 Kona runner-up Tim O’Donnell revealed he suffered a major heart attack six months earlier while racing Challenge Miami. His genetic predispositions put O’Donnell at risk for a ‘widowmaker,’ but now he says he’s been cleared for a return to full training.

#1: What You Need to Know About Every Triathlon Distance

A lot of people were curious about triathlon this year—and wanted to know just how long a race is supposed to be. This primer helped break down the basics of the sport, from the super sprint to the ultra distance. Welcome to the wide world of swim-bike-run. As you can see, triathletes cover a lot of ground!

RELATED: Triathlete’s Best of 2021 Awards