10 Tips for First-Time Triathletes

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

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 and hungry for more races.

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, "T1" and "T2") counted in overall race time. All of the time between the start of your swim and when you cross the finish line at the end of the run counts. Practice smooth and swift transitions.

9. Plan to do the first half of the race slower. Most beginners start too fast. Estimate how much time you think it will take you to do the entire event. Plan to do the first half of that total time at a slower pace than you think you're capable of doing. When you reach the half-way point, you can pick up the pace and finish strong. This is called a negative-split effort.

10. One piece of "trick" equipment. If you want to pick up one piece of "trick" equipment, purchase elastic shoe laces. One such brand is Yankz. 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.

If you do your first triathlon this summer, let us know how it goes.


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.

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