10 Steps to Becoming a Triathlete
An athletic contest consisting of three different events, typically swimming, cycling, and long-distance running.
It’s the New Year and you’ve decided now’s the time to get active. You need a challenge and you’ve told your friends and family that yes, you can do a triathlon… I mean, how hard can it be? Well fear not, you CAN do it! A triathlon may seem like a very daunting prospect but it is 100% achievable.
Whether you want to get fit, need a challenge or are raising money for an excellent cause, everybody has to start somewhere. This blog will endeavour to give you the confidence and motivation to train and succeed.
Let’s start with the basics. A triathlon consists of three disciplines - swim, bike and run. There are various triathlon distances depending on the challenge you wish to face. These differ depending on the event, but are often;
Super Sprint 400m 5km 2.5km
Sprint 750m 20km 5km
Olympic 1500m 40km 10km
Now to become a triathlete… 1. Work out your training needs You’ll need to begin with a good level of general fitness (we recommend a visit to your GP if you’re unsure)
2. Begin planning your training Seek help from professional coaches, or find and personalise a detailed training plan online. TIP: the three disciplines require different techniques when combined, than when performed individually. Experienced triathletes can offer advice on this.
3. Join a tri club A tri club is the perfect place to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who will push you to achieve your aims. Within the community, you’ll learn from others, make friends to train with, reap the benefits of club resources (such as discounts, access to facilities and training camps) and you’ll never be alone on race day when surrounded by your teammates. To search for your nearest club, click here.
4. Set your goal(s) What is it you wish to achieve? Goals could range from something as simple as completing a swim, a cycle and a run every week, to achieving a PB. Whatever your aims are, making sure they’re realistic and measurable is absolutely key. There’s no way you’ll be able to achieve otherwise! The running/cycling app Strava is a great way to measure your progress on a weekly basis and compare your results with other people in your area. Follow your friends, race against past performances and document your training with the free, easy to use app.
5. Plan accordingly If this is your first rodeo, it’s likely you’ll only be planning for one race. However, the steps are the same – decide how long you’ll need to train for and choose a race that coincides with that time frame. Once you become more experienced, you’ll be able to pick and choose dependant on your preferences, such as location, number of supporters you can take, the course itself etc.
6. Get kitted out Yes, triathlons can be perceived as costly endeavours. But it is possible to complete a triathlon on a budget. There are only a few essentials you will absolutely need in order to compete; - Something to swim in - A towel - Something to run in - Trainers - A bike - A helmet (this is the most essential piece of kit – no helmet, no triathlon)
Hiring a bike is a good way of competing your first triathlon, before you shell out for one. Alternatively, you could buy a second-hand bike if you didn’t have access to one to train with. Most races will give you a swimming hat to compete in and we recommend using goggles, but that isn’t compulsory. The sheer amount of triathlon kit available is phenomenal and it can be extremely costly, so start small and as you become more experienced, keep upgrading.
7. Stay motivated and healthy Training for a triathlon takes a lot out of your body so maintaining a nutritious diet and staying hydrated is key. By keeping strong, it is easier to stay motivated and keep going.
8. Remember rest and recovery People often forget about the importance of rest and recovery. Training for three disciplines can put a lot of pressure on you, both physically and psychologically, so it is essential you take some time for yourself to rest and recover.
9. Practice makes perfect You’ve heard it time and time again but it really is true – practice makes perfect. Triathlons involve a few tricky manoeuvres, whether that be transition periods or swimming with a group, so you must be prepared. Keep practising and you’ll be a pro in no time!
10. Enjoy it! It sounds silly and there’ll definitely be days when you can’t wait to get the race over and done with… but just picture the faces of your friends and family as you cross that finish line. It’s all worth it in the end!