Question: I plan to do my first triathlon this summer. Can you give me some tips/ideas on how I should go about preparing for this challenge?
Stepping into the world of triathlon can be both an exciting and daunting task. Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and there is a lot of information for “newbies” to take in at first glance. From the plethora of latest and greatest equipment available (bikes, shoes, wetsuits, electronic gadgets, aero helmets, aero wheels etc), to the pre/post/during activity nutrition, all of this can easily overwhelm just about anyone.
The focus for your first triathlon above all else should be fun, and safety. There is no need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on fancy equipment. The heart of this sport is to challenge yourself and overcome the challenge you place for you. This will bring a feeling of great pride and then you will understand why so many people love to run around all day in there funny looking spandex.
Everyone comes from a different athletic background. When choosing the race distance, I would recommend the give-it-a-try or the sprint. If you are not a confident swimmer then stick to the give-it-a-try for now. To be safe and confident on race day, make sure you can comfortably swim the required distance without rest. If you feel anxiety or have trouble breathing when swimming then address this as your primary focus. Have someone with a swimming background give you a few pointers if possible. Lifeguards are usually well versed in this and happy to help you out.
Get out on the bike 1-2 times a week and ensure you are comfortable breaking, handling, and changing gears. Build up your fitness and aim to do at least twice the race specific distance (assuming you are starting with no more than a sprint distance). Don’t forget to get your bike checked out at your local bike shop for a tune up to ensure safety.
Go out running at least 2 times a week. Make sure your shoes fit properly, your local run shop can help you understand what is important in a properly fitting shoe. Try to include some friends/family in your training if they are up to it, a great way to enjoy healthy living and have others offer support. Aim to be able to complete the at least 50% farther than the race distance to help build up some endurance. Don’t forget that on race day you will be doing the run on tired legs. Running those extra few kms will come in handy.
Remember that training is all about being consistent so by starting small now you will give yourself enough time to build your fitness and enjoy the training.
Get ready to be bitten by the “race bug”,