If you survey people that have completed a triathlon and ask them why they decided to participate in the sport—what got them there—you may get an answer included in the list below:
- I had too many running injuries and needed to do cross training to heal myself. Once I began cycling and swimming, I realized I enjoyed the variety and didn't want to stop.
- I wanted a new challenge, a change from my regular activities.
- It was a stake in the ground. I decided to make changes to my life and triathlon was the start.
- I wanted a way to celebrate my next birthday.
- I was decent at several sports and the idea of combining them into a single competition seemed to be to my advantage.
- I watched a multisport event and thought the madness looked like a lot of fun.
- It's a great way to stay fit because I get an overall workout—cycling and running do nothing for my upper body.
- My buddies and I made a bet. I say a good cyclist can slaughter a good runner or a good swimmer in a multisport event. My buddies disagree. I guess we'll just have to test those theories. Bring on the race.
Here are ten tips for first-time triathletes:
1. Go short before going long. Begin with a shorter race.
2. Stay close to home. For the first race, make it easy on yourself and select an event close to home. If the event is within easy driving distance from your house, it helps reduce race-day stress and hassle. You can also do some of your workouts on the course, increasing your confidence.
3. Just a swim suit and goggles for the swim. A good pair of goggles and a swim suit made for lap swimming, not sunbathing, is all you need for the swim portion of the event.
4. Your bike is fine. Any bike you're currently riding will work just fine. It can be a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid. Many people have completed their first triathlon on a borrowed bicycle. Be sure the bike is correctly fit to you and is in good working order. (No rotted tires or frayed cables.)
5. You need running shoes. If you do not currently own a pair of running shoes, you need a pair. I recommend going to a good running store near you and let the experts in the store help you select the right pair of running shoes. They should ask you questions about your feet, running history and watch your gait while walking and running.
6. It doesn't take as much training as you might think. You are not training for a podium position at an Ironman event for your first race, therefore you do not need to be training 20 to 30 hours per week. You can be ready for a sprint-distance race on less than five hours per week of training. Most weeks are less than five hours. You can find detailed training plans here or check out Saskatoon Just-Tri-it training program which includes your registration fee for our race.
7. Plan to rest. For most eager racers, it is easy to plan to swim, bike and run. Be certain you plan to rest as well. You want to do enough training to complete the event and have fun. It is best if you finish the event with a smile.
8. Transition time counts too. I have had some beginner triathletes write to tell me they were surprised that the time it takes to change from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running (known as transitions). Thankfully our race is un-timed allowing you to prepare for ones that are.
9. Plan to do the first half of the race slower. Most beginners start too fast. Since our race is un-timed you can choose to use a kick board in the pool and alternate walking and running.
10. One piece of "trick" equipment. If you want to pick up one piece of "trick" equipment, purchase elastic shoe laces. Elastic laces allow you to slip your feet into your running shoes and eliminate the need to tie your shoes.
For your first race, try to keep things simple. Once you get hooked on the sport, you can look into ways to get faster or go longer.
Photo of kids cheering their loved ones on at Makin' it Happen 2016, Courtesy of Steve Hiscock.
Article courtesy of: Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.