How do I train for my first triathlon…..?

Taking the plunge to do your first triathlon is AWESOME, but can be somewhat daunting… three sports + transition + lots of new words/terms… So let’s break it down into small simple chunks:

1. SWIM – best advice for swimming is to get in a pool first and get comfortable swimming aerobically (without too much exertion/effort) for short intervals (i.e. 2 lengths) at time, have a break and then repeat. Each time you swim try to increase the distance of the interval and reduce the length of your break.

2. OPEN WATER SWIMMING – this is a whole new bag of worms. See my post here with my tips on taking a dip in the great outdoors.

3. CYCLING – first things first, make sure you have a helmet that fits you correctly – i.e. the chin strap can not be pulled over your chin when fastened and the back of the helmet is tight against your head (use the twisting button at the back to adjust accordingly). Helmets are lifesavers… I was out cycling with a friend the other week who came off and her helmet looked like this – imagine if that was her head…? Making sure the bike you have is set-up correctly (i.e. saddle height & handlebar position) for you will make a HUGE difference. When cycling outside, try to pick quiet roads which don’t have much traffic – will make your experience of cycling outside much more enjoyable and safe.

4. RUNNING – vary it! Similar to starting off swimming – don’t try to run before you can walk. Start with small chunks of running followed by walking and gradually build up the running distance and decrease the walking distance. Don’t always run the same route, at the same speed – vary it, run off-road around the woods, run around a track, run along a river/canal, run up and down a hill…

5. BRICK SESSIONS – no, not where you cement bricks together – it is when you run after cycling… functional training. These are really useful to get your mind, body and legs used to the feeling of running after cycling – it’s a unique feeling!

6. TRANSITION – be organised, you don’t need HUGE amounts of stuff; swim hat, goggles, race belt with race number on it, cycle helmet, bike, trainers, hat/sunglasses… The less “stuff” you have in transition – the less “stuff” you have to worry about!

7. JOIN A CLUB – whatever your pace/speed/ambition a British Triathlon affiliated club will be sure to make you welcome. They will generally have training sessions for each discipline (swim/cycle/run) which is a great way to meet other like-minded nutters and get some expert tips from coaches and die-hard triathletes.

8. HAVE A PLAN – plan your training budget (i.e. how much time do you have to train each week realistically) and then divide this time between the three sports; ideally 50% of your time should be spent cycling as 50% of a total time of a triathlon is spent cycling! 

10. TRY A GOTRI – a low key experience of triathlon, without the timing chips (timing device you wear around your ankle at some events to get your individual results), penalties for drafting (slip-streaming someone on the bike!), £5k bikes and disc wheels!

11. ENJOY IT – you have three sports to tackle, there will always be one that is your least favourite/your weakest – but at least you have two others to enjoy!!!

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