7 Tips to Succeed in Your First Triathlon

For the bike, you'll need a bike, of course. A road bike is the preferred choice. For shorter races, a hybrid or mountain bike will suffice. You'll also need a helmet and proper shoes. If you have a road bike, try clips and bikes shoes, which makes for more economical pedaling.  

For the run, you need a good pair of running shoes.  

Other necessities: 

  • Gels/bars/electrolyte drink for fueling during training and racing. Always practice these strategies in training so you can build a plan when you race. 
  • Race belt to clip your race number so you don't have to worry about safety pinning it to a shirt
  • Visor or hat to keep the sun out of your eyes
  • Swim suit for swim workouts, bike shorts and jersey for bike rides and running attire for run workouts
  • Spare tire tubes and CO2 cartridges for flat tire replacement

2. Give Yourself Time to Train 

Endurance is a long-term component.  People don't build endurance in weeks. It's consistent training, year-after-year to build true aerobic foundation.  

More: Help! I Want to Do a Triathlon ... where Do I Start? 

Many "newbies" enter triathlon, complete a few sprint races and then decide to sign up for a Half-Ironman or Ironman event.  It's good to challenge yourself and set high goals, it's critical to allow ample time to build a solid foundation of aerobic fitness.  

Follow this recommended training time for these events:

  • Ironman: 2 to 5 years of consistent training with two to five completed Half-Ironman events (depends on the individual's background and progression) 
  • Half-Ironman: 36 to 52 weeks of training with 2-5 completed Olympic distance events
  • Olympic: 16 to 26 weeks with 1-3 completed Sprint distance events
  • Sprint: 8 to 16 weeks

3. Practice Your Transitions

The word "transition" comes up quite a bit in triathlon.  A transition is when you go from swimming to biking and biking to running. 

You'll want to complete several brick workouts (combining two sports) to properly prepare for the stress that moving from swim to bike to run puts on your body. They call them "brick" workouts because running after you get off a bike creates the "brick" feeling in your legs.  It's important to practice these transition workouts to simulate the feeling so you're more prepared on race day. 

4. Don't Go It Alone 

Showing up to a race alone can be an overwhelming experience. It's important to have support at these events, especially newcomers to the sport. 

Find a local triathlon club in your community to get the support and encouragement you need to be successful.

6. Triathlon is a Lifestyle

You won't necessarily become an obsessed "triathlete." But you might find yourself more committed to the training than you expected after you've finished your first race.

You can always get better, improve your times, gain stronger fitness and progress into longer distances. This is why the sport is so intriguing because after every race, you'll likely find yourself saying, 'I know I can get better.'

7. Have Fun

This should be the major goal for any amateur athlete.  Whether you hit your goal times or not, make sure to smile, express your gratitude to volunteers at races and enjoy the journey.  Your experiences will be more enjoyable when you learn to simply have fun.

More: 6 Core Components of Triathlon Training

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