Culture

Triathlete’s Top 20 Articles of 2020

Each December, we look back on the stories that resonated most in the past 365 days. In a year with so little triathlon, 2020's selections carry a (not surprisingly) different tone than prior years.

When we compiled this article a year ago, we were so hopeful. We bragged about 2019 being on hell of a year for triathlon and hoped that 2020 would be even better (Olympics! Super League radness! PTO! New Ironman and 70.3 courses!). We all know now that didn’t happen. Instead, the entire world was left grappling with a global pandemic and the idea of worrying about missing out on triathlon for a year felt almost trivial. But with triathlon such a big part of our daily lives, we adapted through the pandemic by taking on unique challenges, trying new things, focusing on our weaknesses, and remembering that even without triathlons—we are still triathletes. Hopefully 2021 will actually be one hell of a year: every 2021 North American Ironman is sold out and Strava data suggests we could be on the cusp of a multisport boom. For now, here’s a look at the stories that kept us informed and motivated through the weirdest year ever.

20. Dispatches: Former Pro Diagnosed With COVID-19

Back in April Dr. Tamsin Lewis, a 40-year-old medical doctor, former pro triathlete, and 2014 Ironman UK champion, shared her journey battling COVID-19. Though the worst of her symptoms had passed, she was still coping with the disease’s impact and her inability to fully recover. (She has since shared more about her battle with Post-COVID Syndrome over on her Instagram account.)

Dispatches: Former Pro Diagnosed With COVID-19

19. Triathlete’s 2020 Tri Bike Buyer’s Guide

We didn’t get to race our triathlon bikes this year, but that didn’t stop us from dreaming about purchasing one of these beauties. The last few years have shown a big shift by bike brands to the direct-to-consumer model, made even better by a pandemic that certainly discouraged visits to a shop. For our big 2020 tri bike review buyer’s guide we looked at eight triathlon bikes that have either been released recently or maybe overlooked in other reviews. Note that the exciting Orbea Ordu (review here) and the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc (review here) have been released since this roundup.

Triathlete’s 2020 Tri Bike Review Buyer’s Guide

18. How to Watch the PTO Championships in Daytona

A triathlon in 2020 that featured several of the sport’s top names?—It’s no mystery why were all so anxious to find how to watch this one. The broadcast was nearly flawless and contributor Brad Culp called it one of the best shows in the history of the tri. We’re excited to see what the PTO will bring in 2021 and beyond.

How to Watch the PTO Championships in Daytona (And Who We Think Could Win)

17. Triathlete’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas will look different this year for most of us, but we’re still excited to give gifts to our favorite triathletes in our lives. (And let’s be honest—we may have purchased several things on this list for ourselves.)

Holiday Gift Guide 2020

16. Ask a Gear Guru: What Is the Best Fall Cold-Water Swim Gear?

With pools closing and opening (and then closing again), many of us turned to open-water swimming as a way to retain a bit of swim fitness (even as the temperatures dropped). Here senior editor Chris Foster (our resident gear guru) shares some strategies for coping with chilly water, how to wear the right gear and when, then look at some cold-water swim gear.

Ask a Gear Guru: What Is the Best Fall Cold-Water Swim Gear?

15. After Backlash, Ironman ‘Pauses’ Women For Tri Facebook Group

Over the summer the popular Facebook group faced controversy after admins began to disable comments or delete Black Lives Matter-related posts from the page. The backlash prompted Ironman to close down posting and comments on its Women for Tri Facebook group, calling the decision a “period of serenity” to calm tensions amongst its 60,000+ members. As of today, the Facebook group is listed as “archived.”

After Backlash, Ironman ‘Pauses’ Women For Tri Facebook Group

14. Polarized Training: Go Slow to Go Fast

This article was published in February—back when we thought there was going to be a 2020 triathlon season. It describes one of the biggest mistakes athletes can make in training. Too many take a “Goldilocks” approach to training: not too hard, not too easy, but somewhere in the middle. The answer to this problem is polarized training, or an emphasis on the opposing “poles” of the intensity spectrum.

Polarized Training: Go Slow to Go Fast

13. Ask Stacy: Which is Better, Whey or Plant Protein?

The protein debate has become a hot topic in recent years, as shown by the popularity of this article. Dr. Stacy Sims has become one of our go-to experts and she explains that the answer to this debate depends on your goals and preferences.

Ask Stacy: Which is Better, Whey or Plant Protein?

12. The Best Triathlon and Road Saddles of 2020

Who knew we’d be so excited about saddles in 2020? It makes sense that we’d care about what we sit on for hours. In a year where we didn’t invest much in race gear, it looks like we upgraded the little things—like our saddles.

The Best Triathlon and Road Saddles of 2020

11. Ask A Gear Guru: Why Do I Keep Getting A Flat?

There’s nothing more frustrating than multiple flats on a ride, and nothing more aggravating than finding yourself stuck without any recourse but to walk or ride our your rim. Fortunately, there are ways you can help prevent that dreaded second (or third or fourth) flat. Foster shares advice and a few products you should always have.

Ask A Gear Guru: Why Do I Keep Getting A Flat?

10. Ask a Gear Guru: What Are the Best Fans for Indoor Cycling?

Though indoor training has become decidedly more fun in the last few years, it’s still really really hard and really really sweaty. This makes having a reliable fan an absolute must.

Ask a Gear Guru: What Are the Best Fans for Indoor Cycling?

9. How to Protect Yourself From a Loose Dog

It turns out this experience is more common than many of us realized. “Every situation is different,” explained Ron Berman, a canine behavioral consultant and forensic dog expert, of what to do if a dog chases you. “What diffuses one dog’s aggression could intensify another. Runners and cyclists can encounter loose or aggressive dogs anywhere.” This one is a must-read for any cyclist or runner.

How to Protect Yourself From a Loose Dog

8. 5 Nutritious Foods You’ve Probably Never Tried (But Should!)

Research in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that people who include a greater variety of healthy foods in their daily menu had an easier time maintaining healthy body weight. That’s just one of the many reasons to try these new foods.

5 Nutritious Foods You’ve Probably Never Tried (But Should!)

7. Ironman to Be Acquired By Privately Owned Advance

In a year with little triathlon news, this was a big story for our sport. The sale to Advance was finalized and completed on July 20, 2020. Though it’s no doubt been a tough year for all participation-based events, things are looking up with so many triathlons already maxed out for the 2021 race year.

Ironman to Be Acquired By Privately Owned Advance

6. Will Triathlons Come Back This Year? What Will They Look Like?

We wrote this article back in April and it turns out the answer was: kind of. Most events were canceled, but a few events did end up going forward (like 70.3 Arizona) with smaller fields and several protocols in place.

Will Triathlons Come Back This Year? What Will They Look Like?

5. At The First Ironman Since The COVID Pandemic Started

Back in September, 1,500 athletes competed in the Ironman and 70.3 distances in Tallinn, Estonia. Contributor Tim Heming reported on what the return to racing looked like.

At The First Ironman Since The COVID Pandemic Started

4. Dry Land Swim Exercises You Can Do at Home

It’s no mystery why this one was such a hit. With no access to pools in March, most of us turned to stretch cords for swim fitness. These exercises from pro triathlete Laurel Wassner mimic both the strength and cardio needed to become a better swimmer.

Weekend Swim Workout: Dry Land Swim Exercises You Can Do at Home

3. Smell Ammonia? Taste Metal? Your Body’s Trying to Tell You Something

Your body is full of signals that are trying to tell you something—whether you’re training too hard, not eating enough, needing more sleep. The problem is you don’t always recognize the signals your body is giving you.

Smell Ammonia? Taste Metal? Your Body’s Trying to Tell You Something

2. How the Ironman Virtual Club Works

The ability to compete from home and still earn Ironman swag and medals!? It’s a cool concept that Ironman implemented quickly after the onset of the pandemic. The race series (and the broadcast of pro “races” from around the world) turned out to be extremely popular. Even when in-person racing returns, Ironman plans to keep this (or at least some version of it) around for triathletes who want to add a competitive angle to their at-home training.

How the Ironman Virtual Club Works

1. 5 Common Errors Endurance Athletes Make in Strength Training

We didn’t race, but a lot of us were motivated to start 2021 as stronger and more well-rounded athletes. When it comes to strength training, there are several mistakes that triathletes and runners commonly make when trying to put together a regime.

5 Common Errors Endurance Athletes Make in Strength Training