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Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals: And Doing the Duathlon Too Paperback – July 17, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Deciding to enter your first triathlon is a heady moment--you're ready for the challenge of a swim-bike-run race and pumped to get your body training. Chances are, though, that you're experienced in only one, maybe two of the sports. How do you incorporate the others? What kind of equipment do you need? How often should you be practicing each sport? And what if you're a complete novice, a wanna-be athlete who has not done any of the sports, and you want to enter a triathlon to motivate yourself to get into shape and improve your outlook? Steven Jones, M.D., a professor of preventive medicine and a successful triathlete, has all the answers and reassurances you'll need in his down-to-earth book, updated in 1999, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals.

As he says in his preface, his book is for the person "who wants to engage in a new and different athletic experience without turning the rest of his or her life upside down in the process and wants to have fun doing so." Focusing on the "marathon-equivalent" triathlon, which is a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike, and a 10-kilometer run (although he does have a brief chapter called "Doing the Duathlon and Going Long"), Jonas helps you decide if a triathlon is right for you, gives his own personal history of how he went from a nonathlete to a racer, and advises on how to pick your first race.

From there, he discusses techniques, the basic principles of training, and how to establish your "aerobic base," the basic level of fitness (especially important for nonexercisers) you need before approaching his "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals Training Program," a five-hour-a-week, 13-week program to train you for your race. Also covered in the manual is equipment and nutrition. Jonas's style of writing is accessible to the layperson--he doesn't burden you with technical terms or complicated zones or training levels. He even goes through an entire race with you, from the night before to putting air in your bike tires through the actual events right up to the aftermath of the race. The terrific appendix includes diagrams of stretches. While this isn't the book for a seasoned runner looking to improve his overall time, this is the ideal book to provide guidance and encouragement for newbies to the sport. Reading just a few chapters will have you itching to start racing. --Jenny Brown --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This is a book of personal opinions and experiences from a self-proclaimed "back of the middle of the pack" athlete. While Jonas does present basic triathlon information on swimming, bicycling, and running and very good bibliographies on these topics, most of the book is a personal account of his training and racing. Readers would be better served by Sally Edwards's Triathlon: a triple fitness sport (Contemporary Bks., 1983) or Paul Perry's Complete Book of the Triathlon ( LJ 10/1/83). Both books are much better at describing the event and preparing the competitor. (Illustrations not seen.) Thomas K. Fry, UCLA Libs.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2 edition (July 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328776
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book delivers as promised!
When I finished the plan (taking you from SLOW running gradually increacing intensity over weeks and weeks), I was ready for my first Triathlon - The San Jose International - a 3/4 mile swim, 20 mile bike and a 6 mile run. No, I didn't win of course, but I finished! The process was so gradual, I KNEW I could do it every step of the way...
What a great feeling! I lost ove 30 pounds of fat in the process, too! This is the ONLY kind of training I have ever STUCK with!
I am about to do a HALF Ironman his weekend (TBF Half Ironman in Sacramento).
None of this ever would've happened if it weren't for me picking up this book...
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Format: Paperback
I am about to race in my first triathlon. I used the training program and advice offered in this book to prepare. I feel ready to race. The book helps the first time recreational triathlete train in a low stress and managable manner. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I first saw this book when I bought my first bike in college- I wanted to get into shape so I could ride longer. I've used his basic premise for over 7 years now through four cities, three schools, and two jobs to stay fit and keep workouts fun. Why does it work so well? Because it's flexible. If I feel like rollerblading for three days in a row, I "just do it". If I'm tired or sick, I rest up to two days in a row knowing that I can adjust my schedule accordingly. If friends invite me to go hiking or skiing on the weekend, I'm not tied down to a particular routine- I just play hard and count it into hours exercised per week. Another important component is measuring aerobic intensity against your current fitness level. If walking gets your heart rate up, you can stay at that level until your condition allows you to move on to something faster. Finally- a book on fitness that realistically acknowledges the demands of jobs, unexpected illnesses, family, friends, and fun!
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read for the beginning triathlete. It takes you step by step through nutrition, basic aerobic fitness and finally into triathlon training. The only thing that I wish it contained were swimming and biking techniques. It explains which swimming stoke to use, but doesn't elaberate on the stoke itself. The author does, however, site many other authors on technique throughout this book that would be helpful. It seems that if the author added an extra chapter devoted to some basic biking/swimming techniques, this would be all the information you would need to get started.
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NOTE: This review applies to the FIRST EDITION. I just found out there is a Second Edition. I will oder and review it forthwith.

I rated this book 4 stars because it is an old 5 star book.

First, this book is for rank beginners. If you say, "Gee, I want to try this cross-training thing called a triathlon . . .um, where do I start?", then this is the book for you.

Second, the book IS DATED. It was originally written in 1984 and updated in 1996. A lot has happened since then; distances have been standardized, new equipment and techniqes have evolved, advances in nutrition and kinesiology.

Now, my reivew.

This is a marvelous book in a lot of ways. If you have no clue how to get started, this book will help you a lot. Unlike some of the reviewers here, and as stated by the author, this is TRIATHLONING FOR ORDINDARY MORTALS. Dr. Jonas lays out a program of exercise that rank amatuers can accomplish. He presents this information in a way that you can directly apply without a coach. The object of the book, as stated on page 23:

"This book is for you if you an average recreational endurance athlete of modest ability who would like to do a triathlon of modest proportions [Olympic]. It is also for you if you are not yet 'average recreational endurance athlete of modest ability' but would like to become one, with the goal in mind of doing a triathlon of modest proportions'" . . .This book is not for you if your ambition is to do an 'Ironman' triathlon."

Phase One is a three month prelude to developing an aerobic base, to get you used to exercising. Phase Two is a six month program to get you sufficiently fit to train for a triathlon. Phase Three is a three month program to COMPLETE a triathlon.
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By A Customer on June 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I decided to do my first triathlon, I bought this book to guide me through the process. Just last week, I completed the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which is supposed to be one of the most challenging in the world.
Just as the book promises my time was not great, but I was able to enjoy every moment of the event and finish the race.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a great way to enter the world of triathlon. I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars because it is slightly incomplete and references other books. However, I think anyone who really gets into tris will find that this is generally the case. Glad I found this book to get me started! Oh, and regarding Miles vs. Minutes: Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I'll go with the Minutes system since world champions Mike Pigg and Mark Allen swear by it and I would be wary of the disparagement of this method from someone who has never done a triathlon.
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