How to start out in triathlon

A little fun blog on starting out in triathlon, by Hev’s

For whatever reason you’ve decided to sign up for a triathlon and good for you because running around the streets in Lycra is all the rage at the moment! It’s a fantastic sport and welcomes everyone from complete newbies to professionals but we realise it can all be a bit daunting.

How do you actually train for a triathlon? Does it matter if you’re slow? How many sessions should you do? What sessions should you do? How many sessions do you need to improve? Or survive? Will you look fat in a tri suit? How often do you need to shave your legs? How should you wear your hair?*  So many questions!

*It’s important to know that if you have long hair this is a very legitimate question. Everybody knows that if you have a ponytail high on the back of your head you’re never going to fit a helmet over it! Hence, we’d suggest a plait or low pony.

So lets start at the beginning.

  • EVERYBODY starts as a beginner. So everyone who’s done a triathlon knows what you are going through.
  • You will learn. Like everything new in life you’ll look back and laugh at your pre lycra clad concerns. And when the new newbie comes along you’ll offer them some very sound advice.
  • It does not matter if you’re slow. You will see every age, shape, size and ability at these events and that’s why we all go back for more. Nobody cares about your speed, nobody will laugh and point and everybody will support you. That’s what we do.
  • Will you look fat in a tri suit? Everybody thinks they look fat in a tri suit. Nobody puts on a tri suit and think they look like Cindy Crawford. Nobody else however will bat an eyelid at you in a trisuit because they will be so used to seeing all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities milling around in skin tight lycra. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to but after a while you get sort of attached to it!

With regards to training concerns this obviously depends on numerous factors but here are a few tips…

  • Look at local clubs and groups that you could potentially join in with. When starting out a lot of people find it easier and more fun to train with others in your local area. 
  • Ease yourself into it. You don’t need to jump straight into training every day. Maybe start off by doing two swims a week, one bike ride and two runs, or whatever works for you. Once you get used to this you can slowly increase your volume as your body adapts to your current training load.
  • With regards to improving this will happen as you get used to training, you will become more efficient and then you can add an extra session or do some faster intervals etc.
  • Rope a friend or workmate into joining you so you can start together.
  • Use local events as sessions e.g. Park Run is a great way to get a hard, measured run in and can be used to monitor your progress.
  • Use your commute as a means of training. Cycling or running to work can be a great way to get some extra miles in and build that aerobic fitness whilst being time efficient.
  • Monitor your individual progress by testing so you know how far you’ve come e.g. do a 400m swim time trial and then do one again six weeks later to see if you’ve improved.
  • Set yourself realistic goals. These could be anything from running a 25minute 5k to ensuring you complete two swim sessions a week.
  • Congratulate yourself when you achieve your goals! You did well so be pleased about it!
  • Mix your sessions up with aerobic and interval work. When starting out, if for example you do two sessions of each discipline, you could do one easy session of each and one harder session with repetitions of effort within it.
  • Learn from other people. If you are part of a club or take part in local events there will be loads of people with varying experiences who can offer advice and tips. There is tons of info on the net, forums and Facebook, and all are great ways to connect with people who are either just starting out like you or can help with questions and queries.
  • Enjoy yourself!!! Triathlon is fun and not many people can do three different sports as one – so really you’re a bit of a hero.
  • Get your friends and family involved. Lots of tri clubs have kids sessions and cross training sessions available.
  • Make links with relevant people in your local area e.g. the bike shop. No doubt you’ll require their service at some point so go in and say hello. Ask them to show you how to change a puncture or which cycle routes in the area they recommend for beginners.
  • Meet new people. Believe it or not us triathletes aren’t as scary as we look and we can be quite sociable!
  • Do triathlon related trips e.g. weekends away cycling with friends, holidays abroad with lots of swimming or even an organised training camp – a great way to learn lots of new skills and meet like minded people.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get hooked!
  • Monitor how you feel. It may be useful to start a log book with your training, sleep and how tired you feel. This will help determine if you’re over doing it and training too much too soon. If you’re constantly so exhausted you can’t lift your feet up the stairs maybe you need to be more gentle on yourself and drop a session or two until your body can cope with these demands.
  • Get to know your body. Learn how it reacts when it is tired or hungry. Learn what causes the niggles or when it moves well. This takes time and experience but your body is the most important tool you have so it’s good to learn what it needs to be at its best.
  • Make sure your equipment is in good working order. Make sure your helmet is in good condition, your goggles don’t leak and your run socks don’t encourage blisters.
  • Most importantly – enjoy. You will get fitter, you will learn and you will survive so enjoy the process!

Oh…and how often should you shave your legs? That’s completely up to you. Just don’t use your partners razor as past experience tells us he or she will not be happy!

New to triathlon or done more events than you can remember and looking for support and a team to be apart of, then why not join our race team, its open to all, no matter where you are on your triathlon journey and offers a full range of benefits.  Join our race team.

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