The ultimate beginner guide for your first triathlon race
Completing a triathlon is one of the greatest sporting challenges any of us can accomplish, with hours of training and preparation needed to be at the right level. Whether you are working towards a triathlon as part of fitness goal, for instance to lose weight, or are focused on becoming a competitive athlete, triathlon for beginners can be daunting.
When you decide to take on triathlon, that first race you sign up to is probably months away, but that time passes much quicker than you think, the race is just around the corner. To make sure you are ready to enjoy that first triathlon experience, here is our ultimate beginner guide that helps you get everything in place to have fun, enjoy and complete that first triathlon.
The support you need
Before we talk about training, preparation and everything else, first, think about the whole triathlon process. You want to have some support on your journey, friends and family matter, but nothing beats having others going through the same process to discuss things with. Finding local groups can make a huge difference to your progress, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a triathlon community in their area.
Online forums and groups can be a great substitute, where you can find a wealth of knowledge and experience from people willing to offer advice. You can find triathlon tips galore, from the best approach to open water swims to knowing how to choose your triathlon bike. This information can be incredibly useful, save you from mistakes and give you confidence, but that is not all you can do.
For practical training, if you don’t have a dedicated triathlon group, think about local groups for the individual sports. For instance, riding with a cycling group can really help with bike strategy and technique, even if they are not triathletes. Having others to learn from can make a huge difference to your progress.
To reach the fitness and readiness you need to complete a triathlon, one of the most important triathlon tips is to have a plan. Get your training schedule organized early and stick too it. There are two ways of creating a training program, you can hire a coach to develop one for you or use one of the many examples you can find online and adjust it to fit your needs.
Do this as early as possible, you can never start training for that first race too soon, as triathlon for beginners is hard, so get your schedule, start training, stick to it.
As the race approaches
As you get to the last week or two before the race, the nerves will start to appear. Don’t worry, being nervous is normal, and with our triathlon race day tips to prepare you, things will go smoothly.
In the last week or two, there are some golden rules to follow, you need to keep your fitness, prepare the body for the race, but not overdo it. That means no lastminute panic training. It may be tempting to go for a 30-mile bike ride, just to be sure, but avoid the temptation. In fact, you should be reducing the amount of training you do, focus on shorter training sessions to prepare.
Likewise, you don’t need to overeat either, while some triathlon race day tips recommend carb loading, it is not essential, and that overeating can cause discomfort and wreck the routine your body is used to.
During this time, get your bike checked over and serviced, including new tires if needed. The last thing you want is to have to stop for mechanical problems. Likewise, if you can, read up on the race, the route, anything you can find. Not only could you find a triathlon tip to help, but the more you know about the race, the less unknown it is, the less intimidating it will all seem.
On the day of the race, you need to be organized to avoid problems. The best way is to take the start time and work backwards. Arrive at the race about 90 minutes before start time, that way you can prepare properly and not have to rush. Races vary on how they do things, but it normally involves a lot of stickers, for helmets, bike posts and so on. Just go through everything step-by-step, and if you have a problem, just ask, there is always a race official somewhere to show you what to do.
Spend time setting up your transition area, make sure the bike and running shoes and so on are all set up properly. Stick to the essentials, you don’t want any clutter. At this point, a god triathlon tip is to look for a feature that can identify your spot, a tree, sign or something so you can find your kit quickly.
When racers are called to the start, pay attention to the briefing. You may be trying to focus and get rid of the butterflies, but it is useful information, so take note. Warm up properly, especially if it’s an open swim where the cold water can cause early problems. If it’s an open water swim, be wary of the line to take at the start, the inside line around the buoys will be chaotic, staying a little wider can avoid problems.
The final and most important triathlon race day tip is to know the route. Don’t simply follow other athletes, be aware of where you are and where you are going at all times.
Triathlon for Beginners
Finally, having taken in all the triathlon tips you can, after all the hard work training for months, the nerves, the adrenaline rush of the start and everything else, don’t forget to enjoy the experience. A triathlon is a unique challenge, and completing one is a true achievement. Be proud of yourself and enjoy every moment.