Getting Started on Your Triathlon Journey
Stepping up your regular exercise to triathlon readiness could be more achievable than you think. For most physically active individuals, a transition to triathlon training can be successfully made in just six weeks. If you’re not quite there yet, spending a few months focusing on a combination of running, swimming, and cycling three times a week can help you gain the fitness level you need. However, starting with swimming lessons, especially if you’re not a confident swimmer, is crucial to transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle. Remember, swimming is usually the most challenging part of the competition. So, starting your first triathlon in a pool rather than open water is strongly advised.
Finding Your First Triathlon Race
Your first step into triathlon training should be selecting a suitable race. Platforms like Active.com can help you find races in your area. After shortlisting a few:
- Visit the official race websites to understand the route specifics.
- As a novice, avoid races involving ocean swims or courses with steep terrains and sandy areas.
- Pay close attention to the cut-off times – these are the maximum times allowed to finish the course.
- Aim for a sprint triathlon with a two to three-hour cut-off time.
- Remember that completing a triathlon doesn’t demand the same extreme athleticism as winning one.
Once you’ve chosen a race, aim for a date that falls six to eight weeks ahead, provided you’re already hitting the gym or running a few times a week. If not, opt for a race that’s at least three months away, giving you ample time to build your overall fitness level before starting rigorous training. And once you’ve picked the right race? Sign up immediately to cement your commitment! Hint: check out our ULTRA355 races in Australia, Cozumel, Texas, and Canada!
Creating a Training Plan
Following a six-week training schedule can prepare you for either a sprint or an Olympic distance race. If you’re not already exercising two or three times a week, start with regular cardiovascular workouts for the first four weeks. Then, aim for two swimming, two cycling, and two weekly running workouts. It’s normal to occasionally miss a workout due to unforeseen commitments, just make sure you’re not overcrowding your rest day trying to make up for it.
Your Triathlon Training Workouts
The crux of most triathlon training plans includes endurance-building workouts for running, swimming, and cycling. In addition, a few specialized routines like Fitness Building Runs and Rides, Superset Training (like swimming followed by biking), and Open Water Swimming are usually included to prepare you for race day. These workouts that involve running immediately after cycling can be instrumental as it’s typically considered the most challenging transition in a triathlon. Even if you’re training in a pool, aim for at least 15 minutes of open-water swimming each week to acclimate to murkier, unmarked waters.
Triathlon training requires a high level of organization. Utilize the following strategies to ensure your training remains enjoyable and effective:
- Seek companionship in training. Exercising with a friend can bolster your commitment.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Don’t skip meals or eat less while training.
- Consume a nutritious post-workout snack that includes carbohydrates and protein.
- Prepare meals in advance. Do some weekend cooking and freeze individual servings for the week.
- Invest in a good conditioner and protect your hair from damage caused by frequent showers and chlorine exposure.
- Enjoy the process. If you constantly find your workouts a chore, reconsider participating in this sport.
- Drink plenty of water
Joining the Triathlon Community
Triathletes are generally a social and supportive bunch. Training with a group can help improve your performance. If you can’t find a friend to join you, consider these alternatives:
- Join a cycling group. Ask your local bike shop for recommendations.
Enroll in a swimming class. Master’s swimming programs at local community pools or YMCAs are a great choice.
- Join a running or triathlon club. Most are accommodating to all speeds and even walkers.
Embracing the triathlon community can make your journey to becoming a triathlete more enjoyable and rewarding.
- Join our Facebook group, The ULTRA TRibe!