Training for a triathlon can seem a bit overwhelming to someone new to the sport. You have three sports to train for and may only have a limited amount of skill and time to train.
Finding a good program is the best way to go about starting your training regime.
Here is what a beginner or first-timer should look for in a triathlon training program:
1. Coaching: Since you may be new to one or more of the events, it is important to have proper coaching. A coach can help you improve technique and become more efficient at a sport. They can also be encouraging and help monitor your progress.
2. Daily training calendar: A calendar will help you stay on target with your goals and will help you organize your training so that it does not interfere with your regular schedule and life. Typically, the calendar should have a variety of levels where you can pick the level that is right for you.
3. Flexibility: Families, jobs, commitments and hectic schedules keep us busy. It is important that the program you choose allows you to be flexible. If you can't make it to a pool to swim, you can go for a run or head to the gym for strength training.
4. Clinics: You program should prepare you with, nutrition, equipment, and race transition clinics. All of these clinics should help you better understand the different sports and make you more comfortable and effective.
5. Support and Gear (SAG): As you get closer to your event, your training's should become longer and more intense. Having support in the form of water and food stops, and equipment and gear support will be important.
6. Access to venues: Not everyone is lucky enough to have their own pool or access to safe training venues such as tracks and trails. A good training program should provide you with access to specific venues to use throughout your training.
7. Team: Training for a triathlon on your own can be difficult. Find a program that provides and encourages a team environment. It's easier to get out of bed on a Saturday morning if you know that others will be there with you.
8. A cause: It is often easier to train for an endurance event, such as a triathlon, if you know the ultimate goal is to support a good cause.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training offers all of the above in a four-month triathlon training program. In addition, they also provide travel arrangements, accommodations and race entry. Team In Training has been named the "Number One Charity Sports Training Program" by Competitor Magazine.
Training for your first triathlon doesn't have to be a daunting experience. If done properly, it should be the time of your life.
Pete Kain was USA Triathlon's 2002 Overall Open Male "Triathlete of the Year" and is Team In Training's head triathlon coach.