If you’re new to the sport of triathlon, no matter what your background, don’t be intimidated by what’s ahead of you. We all started as beginners! So here’s a quick rundown for beginners only of what to expect and how to plan for your first triathlon as printed in Triathlon Lifestyle Magazine.
Triathlon Race Distances
Sprint Distance is 750 meter swim, 12 mile bike and a 5k run
Olympic Distance is 1500 meter swim, 24 mile bike and a 10k run
Half Ironman Distance is 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a half marathon (13.1 miles)
Ironman Distance is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon (26.2 miles)
The best way to start out in triathlon is to pick a sprint distance race. Try not to get carried away and sign up for an Ironman as your first tri. Ideally you want to get experience in the other distances and get comfortable with what it takes to complete one.
Training & Gear
You don’t necessarily need to buy all new gear when starting out in triathlon (unless you want to, of course. Shopping is fun, right?). You may be able to get by with what you already have.
The necessities are:
- Bathing Suit (or tri clothes) & Goggles
- Towel (for your transition area)
- Bike & Helmet
- Sunglasses (to protect your eyes, especially while cycling)
- Water bottle
Remember that the key to training is consistency. Sounds almost too simple, but it really does make a difference in the long run.
When you start training, build up gradually. More is not always better, so follow a good plan, be sure to have a recovery week every 2-3 weeks and take one day off completely every week. Recovery and adaptation from training is just as important as the training itself.
Besides swimming, biking & running there are other types of workouts you can include in your training:
- Strength, Yoga & Pilates
Swimming, biking and running can lead to imbalances. By including strength, corrective exercises, yoga or Pilates, we balance out our bodies by loosening up what’s tight and strengthening what’s weak.
To get accustomed to the feeling of running off the bike, it’s important to include bike/run bricks in your training, which is a bike ride followed immediately by a run. Race day is not the first time you want to be dealing with that strange heavy leg feeling!
- Transition practice
Transitions are not something you want to ignore in your training. It’s the best way to get “free speed”. By being calm and efficient it’s easier to get your transition times down compared to the work that’s required in getting faster in swimming, biking or running.
Before the race, you’ll want to make sure everything is in good working order.
A pre-race tune up for your bike is always a good idea (no one wants a mechanical breakdown in the middle of their race!), but at the very least you should check your tires, gears and lube your chain.
Check that your goggles aren’t all scratched up and make sure you have a decent pair so you can see clearly during the swim. It’s always good to bring an extra pair with you to the race, just in case either you need it or a fellow triathlete needs it. Karma goes a long way!
On race day, you want to give yourself plenty of time to set-up and warm-up before the start. You’ll be picking up your number (unless packet pick-up is available the days preceding the race), setting up your transition area, getting body-marked (that’s where they write your number on your arm and age on your calf), and of course visiting the porta potty (everyone’s a little nervous on race day, so there will be a line).
Always remember – “nothing new on race day”. Race day is not the time to experiment with a new nutrition product or new gear. That’s what training is for.
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