The sport of triathlon is a great place to find lifelong friends, improve your health and get back to the great outdoors. If you want to try it out there are a lot of resources available to you both on the internet as well as your local tri store, bike shop or local swimming hole. Here are a few quick tips to help you get started and there are some resources at the end you can take a look at. Hope to see you out there!
1. Proper Training
While it goes without saying you need to train in order to do a triathlon. I often see athletes make the mistake of training too much, training too little, or having unbalanced training.
Training too much: Just because you have extra time in your day doesn’t mean you need to fill it with swimming, biking, or running. If you’ve nailed all your key workout sessions, extra time is best spent staying off your feet and recovering.
Training too little: Missing more than 3-4 workouts in a week can quickly lead to under training. It’s much better to shorten several workouts than miss one altogether. Do your best to minimize missed workouts, especially as your race gets closer.
Unbalanced Training: Triathlon is 3 sports in one event. If you only focus on the swim you will quickly find yourself being passed. The same goes for biking or running. The goal of triathlon is balancing the 3 sports while focusing on your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Equipment Preparation
Swim: For a triathlon swim you need to practice in your wetsuit(if you are planning a cold water swim) and goggles, preferably in open water at least twice before a race (helps with the nerves!). In edition to your normal swim training, practicing in your swim race gear closes the gap between training and racing.
Bike: In order to prepare for a triathlon, a bike fit is a must(and helps to avoid a lot of those overuse injuries). Whether you have a triathlon bike or road bike (or a mountain bike or cyclocross bike), ensure that you’re comfortable when putting in the miles. If it doesn’t fit, you will want to quit.
Run: I recommend that athletes train and race in minimalist running trainers (or at least a neutral shoe unless you have a foot or knee issue that prevents this). As to which type or brand, I can’t say what works for everyone. Every athlete is different. I recommend athletes transition to the minimalist shoes as slowly(SLOWLY!!!) as possible by experimenting with different brand and types. Once you find what works for you, practice running them off the bike, just as you do in a race.
3. Set Goals
Goals aren’t simply saying you want to achieve just one thing. Athletes should break down goals into short term and long-term categories. I personally set weekly, monthly, and seasonal goals. A weekly goal and can be as simple as not missing any workouts. A seasonal goal could be placing top 5 overall in a half-ironman triathlon. As you achieve your weekly and monthly goals you will get closer and closer to your seasonal goals.
4. Race Logistics
Preparation, preparation, preparation! If you have to fly across the country, sleep 3 hours in a hotel then have to wake up for a race; you can bet that you’re not going to have a good race. Whereas if your race is just a few miles away on a course you’ve been training on, you will typically have an awesome race. The more control you have over the logistics, (travel, sleep, food, etc.) the better will do.
5. Have Fun
The most important aspect of preparing for a triathlon is having fun! Triathletes are made in the process, not in the one-day event. Enjoy going to the pool in the morning or heading out on your bike for hours. Typically if your motivation is super low you need to rest. Your body has many ways of telling you it needs rest and your “workout fatigue” level can be a good indicator if this. We are working out hopefully to improve health, make friends and have fun, not to develop overuse injuries and other health conditions related to over-training.
If you are interested in trying out a triathlon there are a lot of great resources out there. Take a loo at a few of the links below and maybe look for a triathlon coach in your area for a little more help.