I'm thinking about signing up for my first triathalon, but am not really sure where to begin the process of getting prepared.
Currently I am in the gym 5 days a week, but other than a 1 mile warm-up, I stick to free weights. My local triathalon is just short of a year away so I think I have time to properly prepare and get the right equipment.
I am looking for advice on what type of equipment I may need, training strategies, and any mental preparedness that one may offer.
Thank you in advance for the help.
Hello Steve, if I may offer some advice ... do a series of "mini" triathlons. The first one I was in, I was 21 and we did it as a team to build ourselves up to take on all three events.
When I say "mini" start with these events in the same afternoon, and build from that point. If you are a year out, you can always build your training up instead of shooting right out of the gate and possibly hurting yourself.
Swim = 200 meters
Bike = 4 miles
Run = 2k
Good Luck !!!!
Here's a good resource ... http://www.beginnertriathlete.com
*You need a bike. Find a local group that does training rides. Not only will you learn how to ride but they will force you to challenge yourself when you ride.
*Learn you distances and terrain.
*Get in the pool! Swim, swim, swim! When the swim wave of a triathlon starts, people will swim over you. Make sure that you are a strong swimmer. This is no place to decide that you can't go on! I've only done one ( when I was 13). I had to rescue someone who panicked because people were swimming over her.
*Mix up your running. You should train intervals at lest once per week. Train at the distance you'll be running as well as longer distances.
New bikes are kind of a rip off. Look towards craigslist or local classifieds for a deal on a used bike. Chances are that it will suit you well and you can save some money. You dont necessarily need a road bike, although they are preferred because of the power you can get out of them. I know people who ride mountain bikes with slick tires designed for road riding.
Personally, I dont participate in triathlons to break records and show off my speed. I participated because of the accomplishment, satisfaction, healthy lifestyle benefits, etc. My point being, dont put too much pressure on yourself to preform, because it can turn it into a chore and not recreation.
Steve, the the hardest part of a triathlon is the mental game. A lot of people do triathlons because it's cool, or popular, or whatever. But that gets pretty miserable. The number one tip I can give you is to make sure it's fun! If you wake up and don't want to do a workout, then you need to figure out how to make it fun. I don't actually do ANY workouts, but I play outside a LOT, and I guess they look the same to some people.
On the technical side, problems happen in either the swim or the run. Make sure you are really ready for the swim; that's where most tri deaths (heart attacks and drownings) happen. Then take it easy and don't worry about being out front. I avoid the pack at first and make up time on the second and third legs.
Most injuries happen during the run, though. The number one tip I can give you here is to get rid of your fancy running shoes. You'll want as lightweight a shoe as you can get to help protect your knees and joints. I'd even suggest running barefoot to strengthen your feet and correct your form.
Read Running Fast and Injury Free (free pdf) by one of the best distance runners and coaches ever to get form and fitness tips, and Born to Run for inspiration.
Then just get out and have fun! You have a year to build up to it, so don't do anything that you won't be happy doing for an entire year! Take every opportunity to go outside, and you'll start to really love endurance sports!
Steve, having worked in the Bicycling industry for over three years now and dealing with this on a daily basis, I can advise you to get a bicycle that has an aggressive geometry - specifically a road bike or a bike that has similar feel like a flat-bar road bike. These will simply aid in riding very fast for a short distance. Get a road bike if you really feel you're going to pursue triathlons afterwards, but if you're unsure whether or not you will like it the flat-bar road bike is a great option because of its much lower price point. Giant makes a bike this year called the Rapid, a flat-bar road bike, for a great price with strong performance. There's my qualifying advice, and you can get much more of it by swinging by your local bike shop, hope you have fun!
I've done a couple of tri's now, and they are lots of fun. You haven't mentioned what distance, so I will assume it is a sprint type. Races are not won in the swim generally, but they can be lost - start your wimming now. in the pool at first, to build up to twice the distance of your race. then get down to the real water where the race will be. Nothing like doing all your training in the pool, then hitting the water to find big waves crashing over you! You will get punched/kicked on during the swim, but just roll with it. The run out of the swim leg is always fun. A short run to the bike when your heart rate is at max is always fun. Enjoy the bike ride, refuel, drink some water in prep for the run. Transition to the run and go for it. Cross the finish line and feel the buzz of a great achievement!
Get good goggles.
Practice brick sessions (run after riding your bike) The legs will feel like jelly.
Practice transitions - going from swimming to weaing bike gear.
If you want to save time, get a one piece tri outfit, and elastic laces :-) Not critical, but better than fumbling around!
I trained with a team - trained for the NYC Triathlon. Which was Olympic Distance. Just start running, and get a decent road bike, and swim swim swim. Swimming is the hardest aspect of the triathlon. Running you can improve quickly over a short period of time, same with saddle time in the bike. But Swimming is the hardest. Search for a training club - join and start training. I did 2 Olympic tris, 2 sprints and a half marathon this year. Next year I'm planning on doing 6-7 olympic distances and a 1/2 Iron Man.
I compete in several triathlons a year, and I can tell you that if you feel you have the cardio to do the run and the bike, your time is best spent training for the swim leg. For myself and most people, you can gain the most time and decrease expenditure by learning proper form. Don't just find a Y with a pool and swim there, though. Open water swimming is very different.
For me, the running leg is mental. It can seem the most monotonous, and therefore the most difficult.
From the opposite end of the spectrum, here is my neophyte experience with triathlon...
Never having been a distance runner (in fact, a doctor once told me I was borderline asthmatic), I ran a sprint-distance triathlon in summer 2007 when I was at the nadir of my physical fitness. I used the triathlon as a fixed goal to motivate my ascent back into reasonable physical shape. I logged on to beginnertriathlete.com, I bought the Triathlete's Training Bible by Joe Friel and Triathlon 101 by John Mora. For close to 6 months, I trained running, cycling, and swimming.
My results SUCKED. I didn't appreciably increase my endurance. I remained fat. I think I came in last for my age group. The event itself was kind of fun, though. It was a good, friendly atmosphere.
- don't use this as a means to get back into shape - the typical tri training plan keeps you at such a low heart rate that you don't burn fat and you don't appreciably improve your endurance. The rationale is that you should train at the HR level that you'll compete at (I bought a HR monitor so I could train 'properly'). This plan didn't work for me (or my wife).
-- I may try another tri in Summer 2010. If I do, I'll concentrate on increasing my endurance and fixing my swimming stroke, rather than putting in "junk miles". One little truism I've heard is that marathons are all about injury management while triathlons are all about energy management.
- if you don't have a history in endurance sports (e.g., if like me, you're better suited to weight-lifting) try out a sprint distance triathlon.
- unless you're a natural swimmer, pick up a book on improving your technique because it will save you a ton of effort. Terry Laughlin's "Total Immersion" method is a name/program you'll hear a lot. I have it, but I got it after my tri and I haven't tried it out yet, so I can't give you a recommendation on it.
-- if you're not a strong swimmer, try to find a triathlon that has the swim in a pool rather than open water. It's much more orderly, you're less likely to get kicked in the face and you can stand up in the shallow end if you're tired.
---alternatively, there are duathlons that omit the swim entirely.
- borrow gear if you can until you know whether this sport is for you.
-- don't do the bike ride on a heavy 10-year old mountain bike with knobby tires.
- beginnertriathlete.com is a free site you can use to find basic training programs. It also has for-pay premium areas. (I only used the free part.)
Tri's can be a lot of fun but you want to go in prepared.
I started with tri's about 3 years ago. First sprints, then Olympic distance, and then finally an Ironman 70.3. I think Olympic distances are a blast and are my favorite. Some advice I might suggest:
- I disagree with too much focus on swim. Build up your endurance first. The swim is such a small component of the overall race that I think getting into fitness shape is more imporant. If you're moderately confident in the water you will be fine. Focus on the swim is to not wear yourself out for the next two legs.
- Get in the back and wait 5 seconds after your wave starts and you'll avoid other swimmers and not get run over. It's worth a few seconds to avoid the mob scene.
- Running is the best way to build endurance.
- Don't worry about time. Worry about finishing your first. Then in future races worry about beating YOUR previous time. It's a humbling sport. You will get beat by 65 year olds and people that appear to be in far worse shape than you.
- Know how to change a flat.
- Eat light on race morning. Bagel with peanut butter and banana. keep the fiber low.
- When you're setting your bike up in transition look for the end of the rack. that way you only someone on one side of you.
- Towards the end of bike, ride out of your saddle a bit and loosen up and stretch the legs for a run.
"I suppose I'll have to take this as a learning opportunity. I tend to wait way too long and amp everything up so making a simple call feels worse than fighting a lion to the death.
I think I raise the women up on a pedestal which makes me feel…"