Preparing for your first triathlon
Your First Triathlon
Preparing for your first Triathlon can leave you will many unanswered questions. How do I start? What gear do I need? and which discipline requires me to train the most in? What Triathlon event should I enter? While we can go on with numerous questions we look into the main questions for a beginner triathlete looking to do their first Triathlon
What Does a Triathlon Consist of?
Triathlon events or races consist of Swimming, Cycling and followed by running. Although typically in that format is how they are run. You do see numerous alternatives formats around the world, allowing some alternative racing. Most Beginner Triathletes tend to start out in the Sprint distance Triathlon and work there way up to a half ironman, or even Ironman Triathlon. Since Triathlon has come to a widely known sport over the past 15 years, we see mainly 4 types of distances coming from Sprint distance, Olympic distance, Half Ironman Distance and the Full Ironman distance.
Often these events are based around open water swimming, on-road cycling, and on-road running. You may see events incorporating parts of off-road during the event. Mainly in the running, although recently Xterra has grown, where we see cycling and running on the road, replace with mountain biking and the running replaced with offroad running.
With Triathlon distances ranging from as small as a 100m of swimming, 3 kilometers of cycling and 1km of running, up to 3800m swim, 180km cycling and 42.2km of running, there is an event suited to everyone.
Getting Started in Triathlon
The most important aspect of starting out in Triathlon is choosing the correct event and one that is suited to you If you struggle with swimming, starting out in Duathlon gives you an opportunity to practice the cycling and running disciplines without the added stress of swimming. This also gives you time to practice the bike to run transition. Making you more confident heading into your first Triathlon.
If you cant ride a bike or don’t currently own one. Looking into events such as an aquathlon, which incorporates a combination of swimming and running. This is also a great event for practicing your swimming in open water and learning to sight during the swim course. Other things such as learning to swim in a group and transition training can be a positive way to incorporate these races into your triathlon training.
Looking at various triathlon events and choosing the right one comfortable for you will help you move up to your first triathlon over time. Whether this be a sprint distance, Olympic distance or even up to the full distance triathlon.
Getting Help With Triathlon Preparation
Knowing what to do, How to train, or even finding the right Triathlon event can be a daunting task. Staying motivated by training with a Triathlon coach or with a local club with a strong community, will offer support and also training advice from the more experienced Triathletes in the club. Most of the experienced Triathletes can help develop a Triathlon Training plan for you but also, more importantly, provide the support needed.
Swimming for the beginner Triathlete can be one of the most dreaded disciplines. How to train for a triathlon swim should be high on a Beginner triathletes list Located mostly open water ( lakes, sea or rivers) there is no place or are to put your feet down and recover. While there is no specific swimming technique required in Triathlon, Learning to freestyle (or Crawl) by joining a beginners swim class or hiring a swimming coach can help you make the gains needed to get through your first Triathlon. Starting off with smaller swim events can be a good learning curve for the beginner triathlete.
Learning to swim next to other swimmers in the open water and also the pool, with not only help with drafting but also allow you to practice your sighting. Since most swims are located in open water, constantly checking you are on course will prevent you from swimming extra distances, or swimming off course.
Practicing 2-3 times per week, including two technique based sessions and one longer open water swim. Will help develop not only your swim technique but also practice the points we made above. As we all know swimming is very much technique based, so spending more time in the pool refining your technical will pay dividends when you get to you first triathlon event.
Beginner Triathletes or first-timers, often don’t understand or know what training to do. Preparing for your first triathlon is recommended you combine high intensity training as well as lower intensity training. This way you can build both strength and stamina during your build up.
Typically in all Triathlons, cycling is the longest discipline. This is usually the area where most people will find the biggest gains. The more time spent on the bike during the preparation for your first triathlon will see quicker improvement of your bike handling skills, faster aerobic development, which will also help the running and overall distance of the event.
Investing in bikefitting, will help you feel not just more comfortable but help prevent injuries during the build up. Most local shops have contacts that can help put you in touch with a local bike fitter, which whom will set your position up correctly for your fitness level, flexibility and also help with biomechanics.
Focusing on quality cycling during the week and longer rides on the weekend will help you prepare for your first triathlon and the distance of the event. Building up the mileage slowly each week, will not only allow adaption but keep you motivated along the way.
During the week, adding some intensity will help increase your fitness level quicker. Looking at local shops rides during the week can help you get that added intensity without forcing yourself into an interval session. This also gives you the opportunity to speak to local elite cyclists, for which whom can give you some pointers on cycling training.
With Triathlon running it is typically the second longest event of the three discipline. While most people can run, starting off slowly and alternating between walking and running will allow the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt. If you are already a comfortable runner preparing for your first Triathlon, implement some interval training such as tempo runs and specific distance efforts will help see a quicker improvement of your fitness.
If your a stronger runner, it’s a good idea to ease back on the volume while you start to build on your cyclist fitness or swimming technique. This will see greater overall improvement in all three disciplines, but also allow more recovery time.
The importance of running in triathlon for beginners is to get comfortable enough with the required running distance first before you start to implement such things as tempo runs, race pace efforts and so forth. Once you are comfortable running the distance of your first triathlon, add in some faster-paced efforts.
Adding in some brick training (bike to run) will help you both practice the transition from cycling to running, but also make the transition from cycling to running less challenging during your first event.
How Long to Do a Triathlon
Once you have made the choice to sign up for your first triathlon and preparing for your first Triathlon, setting a time frame up to the event is a good idea. Giving yourself plenty of time for both the training and also time to purchase of gear necessary.
- Average time to complete a sprint triathlon: 6-8 weeks out
- Average time to complete an Olympic Triathlon: 10-12 weeks out
- Average time to complete a Half Ironman: 16-18 weeks out
- Average time to complete an Ironman: 30-36 weeks out
While every person is different and depending on your current level of fitness will depend on the time needed to prepare for your first triathlon event. Typically the longer the event is, the longer time the buildup needs to be. Starting out with a mini triathlon or even a sprint triathlon will see you heading to the start line much fast than that of the longer events.
Motivation During Training
Finding a local triathlon club or a local training group will allow you time to train with others of the same ability. But also allow you to get social interaction with other triathletes. If you don’t have access to a local club, finding friends that are interested in the sport may give you some added company during your training sessions. Facegoups are also a popular area to find motivation and talk with like-minded people. Groups such as The ironman journey have a large online presence.
Sticking to a training plan
It’s important to set goals, goals that are not only achievable but realistic. This will help you feel positive about the development your having. Try not to overload the body too early in the plan, and focus on consistency rather than volume in the beginning. Talk to a local triathlon coach or even an online triathlon coach, and discuss what is needed for you to reach your goal. Having a coach a phone call away will not only help but also speed up your progress and provide you with added motivation. Most coaches have a lower cost beginner triathlon training plan or monthly coaching packages available. You can find also numerous types of free triathlon training online.