Even if you already work out with a personal trainer or play regular sports, your first triathlon can be a challenge.
Following a swim with a bike ride and then a run is not for the faint-hearted. Your best bet is to start training in plenty of time and to follow a periodised training programme devised by a fitness instructor and tailored to your age, fitness levels and experience.
A few questions you may be asking:
HOW LONG IS A TRIATHLON?
A triathlon may be a sprint, super sprint, standard, middle distance or long distance race.
A sprint triathlon would be:
- 750m swim
- 20km cycle
- 5km run
- A long-distance triathlon would be:
- 3.8km swin
- 180km cycle
- 42km run
HOW MUCH TRAINING SHOULD I DO?
In the triathlon itself you’ll spend around 50% of the race cycling, 30% running and 20% swimming so it’s best to match your training to these percentages, unless you are particularly weak at one of the disciplines.
A personal trainer can help you improve your overall fitness and develop techniques and a training programme to help you reach the finishing line on the day.
WHAT SORT OF TRAINING SHOULD I DO?
A triathlon will challenge different aspects of your fitness. The continuous nature of the sport will develop your aerobic system and this is an element of training you want to focus on. In particular, you may want to focus on the development of your OBLA– the maximum speed you can run/cycle/bike without lactic acid accumulating to a level where you need to stop.
In addition you may also want to do some strength training. One of our previous blogs- Strength training for distance runners– highlights the potential benefits of adding some extra strength training to your workouts.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?
Investing in good equipment can make a big difference to your enjoyment of the event and your finishing time, eg: well-fitting goggles, specialist running shoes and sportswear made of moisture-managing fabric, ideally including a triathlon suit, which is a hybrid of swimsuit and cycling shorts.
However, don’t spend a fortune if you aren’t sure whether you’ll use the equipment again. A road bike is best if you don’t have a triathlon bike, although you could use road tyres on your mountain bike if you’re aiming to finish rather than break any records. A bike helmet is essential.
WHAT IS THE TRANSITION?
This is the area where you lay out your kit and leave your bike at the start of the race, for you to pick up during the race when you cross over from one activity to the next.
ANY OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS?
Check out the routes before your race, whether online or in person; it will help you on the day and add to your confidence.
Look out for a local triathlon club to join. You’ll get expert advice, the use of facilities and tips from more experienced triathletes. There are several hundred triathlons held every year so don’t rush to take part before you’re ready – there will be another one along soon afterwards.
Enjoy the day. Whatever your time, you will have achieved a personal best simply by completing your first triathlon.