How to Prepare for a Triathlon

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A triathlon is undoubtedly one of the hardest sporting events to prepare for, especially if you have never competed in one before. The combination of swimming, biking, and running – all quite the workout on their own – is extremely challenging when done together, one after another.

Yet competing – and finishing – a triathlon is something nearly anyone can do. Even if you’re at a near zero fitness level, you can adequately prepare for your first triathlon given enough time. Below are a few of the best tips for those that want to compete in their first triathlon event.

1- Sign Up

Signing up for a triathlon is the first step in preparing for one. In addition to making sure you are registered, signing up will give you a race date to work towards. It will help you gear your training around the amount of time you have before the day of the event. Beginners should give themselves at least twelve weeks of training time before their triathlon race.

It is also important to select a triathlon event that suits your fitness and experience level. Beginners should probably opt for the shortest distance triathlon they can find, often called a Sprint Distance Triathlon. These contain 750 meters of swimming, 20 kilometers of bicycling, and 5 kilometers of running.

2 – Gear Up

After signing up for an event, it is time to gather the gear you need to compete in your first triathlon. Chances are you already have some of it. However, having the best equipment you can afford will not only help you do better in the event, it will also make the entire training process that much more enjoyable.

Each separate discipline of your triathlon requires different gear. You need running gear including running shoes, bicycling gear including a bike, cycling shoes, and cycling clothing, and swimming gear including a swimsuit and possibly a wetsuit. A surefire way to select the best gear for your budget is to visit a specialty store and consult with one of the experts that works there.

3 – Get Started With Your Training

The only way to begin preparing for your triathlon is to get started! And get started as soon as possible. Though joining a triathlon training group or club is one of the most effective ways to prepare for a triathlon, it is also possible to do so by yourself.

Swim Training

If you don’t swim on a regular basis, you’ll likely be surprised at how tiring it is when you start training. So start slow and build up. You might even want to use a kickboard to help develop proper form and increase leg strength. The freestyle is the stroke recommended by most swimming experts for triathlons.

Bike Training

Most people learn how to ride bicycles when they are young. But even if you are comfortable on a bike, it can be nerve racking to learn how to ride one competitively. Once again, it is important to start slow and build up. Become familiar with just riding the bike and using the gears. Figure out which gears are best for sprinting, riding up hills, and riding down hills.

Most bikes used in triathlons have clip in pedals. These require a learning curve of their own to learn how to use properly.

Can’t get out on the road due to bad weather? Make sure you checkout our guide to the best bike rollers.

Run Training

The three running miles required of a beginner triathlon might not sound difficult. You might even be able to do them already. However, running three miles after bicycling and swimming is a different story.

It is a good bet to work on your running and bicycling segments during the same training day. Work out on your bike and then run after. This will help adapt your legs to the sometimes difficult transition between the two events.

The Bottom Line

Set a date for your event, invest in the gear you need, and then set a training program that incorporates swimming, bicycling, and running. Stick to your program, don’t give up, and before you know it you’ll be ready to run your first triathlon like it’s nobody’s business!

Resources: Daily Burn, Beginner Triathlete

Scott Holliday

Scott Holliday has been coaching athletes of all levels for over 10 years and is certified by the acclaimed International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA). He works with athletes of all abilities to help then unlock their potential.