Don’t you just hate it when a headline catches your attention, you buy the magazine and then sit down with your coffee to find out what you need to do to discover that it is not what you were expecting at all! That is exactly what happened to one client who having completed her first Novice Triathlon was keen to find out how to move her training forwards in preparation for next year. The headline read ‘Complete your first Tri. All the expert tips and advice you need to start training now.’
Read on and you discover that it is not a beginners guide but an article for existing athletes in a single discipline moving into the multidiscipline sport of Triathlon. Not so useful for someone who can complete all the elements but is not ‘established’ in any of them and is therefore starting from basics. Much to 220 Triathlon magazine’s credit they responded to the complaint acknowledging that the headline was misleading. They went on to offer to send back copies of the magazine out that would be useful for a novice triathlete.
So here is an article that gives you my tips to get you started for your first triathlon – as you can see anyone can do it so what are you waiting for!
I’m not fit enough to do a triathlon….
Oh yes you are!!!!
That is the beauty of triathlon. You only have to go along to watch a triathlon to see the huge range of competitors. They really do come in all shapes and sizes and many are still racing into their 60s and beyond. Events are set up to cater for all abilities and times and each heat can almost run as a mini event. Triathlon appeals to many as they get older as it spreads the load on muscle groups and joints and therefore reduces the risk of an overuse injury. The sense of achievement is huge and the ‘never again’ at the end soon turns into ‘next time.’ You learn as you go along and it can become really addictive. The variety keeps you going and the date in the calendar focuses your attention.
So here are my top 10 tips to get you started – and this really is a guide for complete beginners!
- Sign up for a Novice event and use it as chance to practice. It takes off the pressure and is an opportunity to swim/cycle/run with lots of other people doing it for fun and not taking it too seriously.
- Aim to finish. Time goals can come later. Doing the 3 events is hard going especially with hundreds of other people doing the same. Enjoy your day.
- Find some Triathlon buddies. I set up a Facebook page for the fit4evermore triathletes when they first started and it was helpful to share tips and to ask questions. Knowing you are all in it together helps and meeting to train keeps you going.
- Read some books about others who have done a triathlon – there are some great ones out there. Here are a few of our favourites to keep you going. Meredith Attwood ‘Triathlon for the Every Woman :you can be a triathlete. Yes, You.’; Andy Holman ‘Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run. From Common Man to Ironman’; Chrissie Wellington ‘A Life without Limits’; Alistair & Jonathon Brownlee ‘Swim, Bike, Run.’
- Don’t spend a lot of money on kit. You can use the bike you have, you need a tri-suit (attractive all in one lycra piece), goggles, wetsuit for an open water swim and a cycle helmet. Beg borrow and steal from your friends. Spend your money once you know that you like it and will stick at it.
- You need to train for all 3 events each week whether you are good at them or not. Consistency is key here – if you miss one out then that is where you will struggle on the day. It is very different running after having swum and cycled to doing a run on it’s own. Aim for at least one session of each a week preferably two.
- Do a brick session each week. This is a cycle to a run. It is a whole new challenge getting your legs moving once you are off the bike. It gets easier the more that you practice and it then won’t be a shock on the day!
- You need to plan your transitions as part of the race. It is not a chance for a rest. The quicker you can get out the water and onto your bike and again off the bike into your run the better. It is much easier to take 30 seconds off your transition time than off your swim time.
- When you estimate your swim time be accurate. Don’t over or underestimate – you will be put in a lane to swim probably with 4 other people who have given the same time. It is a nightmare if you are stuck behind someone who is too slow or being constantly overtaken by everyone. Change your time right before the event if you need to. You don’t need any extra pressure on the day!
- Try out all of your kit before the day. Practice getting out of a wetsuit, putting on trainers with sweaty or wet feet. You can wear a sports bra under your tri suit if you need the support but make sure that it will cope with water and not rub anywhere when wet. Go swimming, cycling and running in your tri suit. Wear a T shirt over the top if you need to – lots of people do. Nutrition at the event is only relevant if you are racing for more than an hour. Even for a Sprint Triathlon water and a few jelly babies will be adequate. Never eat or drink anything new on race day – it could end in disaster….
I hope that you find that useful. Feel free to ask any other questions you have – I am more than happy to share my experiences and those of my clients as well.