Tips for first-time triathletes

There are many reasons why people take part in triathlons. For some, they want to challenge themselves and push their bodies to the limit. For others, they may simply have been bored with engaging in a single sport and wanted to try something different.

Thought of taking part in a triathlon? Credit:

Thought of taking part in a triathlon?
Photo Credit:

But whatever your reasons are for taking part in a triathlon, here are some tips – if you are thinking of signing yourself up for one.

1) Start with shorter distances

Sure, the Ironman (3.8km of swimming, 180km of biking and 42km of running) may seem like a great way to push yourself to the maximum. And you may have been inspired by ordinary folks who take on the Ironman.. and survived. But if you are taking on a triathlon for the first time, do NOT try out the Ironman as your very first triathlon. More often that not, it will scare you away from the sport forever… especially if you fail to realise how much training you will need, in order to complete one.

Instead, you should start with shorter distances. One of the shorter standard triathlon distances is the Sprint category (750m of swimming, 20km of cycling and 5km of running) and this is much more palatable to newcomers of the sport. By starting with shorter triathlons, you will also be able to slowly integrate yourself in the sport – and actually find yourself enjoying it much better.

2) Any type of goggles and swim suit would be fine

Unless it is spelt out out in the race requirements that you need to wear a wetsuit during the swim leg of the triathlon, you do not need to go out and invest in one. Rather, any pair of decent quality goggles and a regular looking swimming suit will serve your purpose.

3) You do not need an expensive triathlon bike

If you are new to the sport, there is no need to go out there and buy the most expensive triathlon bike in the market. These can cost several thousand dollars, sometimes $10,000 for the higher-end models. It may be a waste of money, if you buy one and then subsequently realise that triathlons are not for you, after all. If you don’t currently own a bike, you could rent one from a relative or friend, or get an entry level road bike, which would set you back by about $800, and is good enough to get you through the bike leg of a triathlon in one piece. Only when you grow to enjoy the sport of triathlon, then should you be looking at upgrading your bike and investing in more expensive equipment.

The most important thing about choosing a bike for your first triathlon though, is that the bike should be in proper working order and of a comfortable fit to match your height and build. Also, do make sure that you learn how to change a flat tyre though.

4) Running on fresh legs is very different from running after biking

While running may be easy to pick up, do remember though, that running after swimming or biking, is different to running on fresh legs. This is because after an extended period of cycling, your legs will feel very heavy and you will struggle to run, especially for the first few kilometres. So during your training, you will need to practise doing brick sessions, that is, running straight after biking so that you’ll know what to expect mentally, on race day. This is especially so, if you have come from a running background and may feel cocky about the running leg of the triathlon.

5) Practise your transitions

For many novice triathletes, they probably won’t realise the period of time that they may end up taking between transitions – that is, from swimming to biking and then from biking to running. But this is going to be counted in your overall finishing time as well. So during your training, where you are combining two of the sports into a single session, make sure that you are able to do your transitions swiftly and smoothly – as this will really do wonders in cutting down your overall finishing time.

Other blog posts

50 Year Old Completes Full Ironman Triathlon

Sara Ng once swore she’d never do a triathlon again

Tips for runners to train well for your first triathlon

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