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Preparing For Your First Triathlon

Dec 24, 2006 |

Triathlete Magazine has the following suggestions for anyone preparing for their first triathlon:

1. Choose the event you want to compete in

This may be a local race, such as Boulder Peak, or you may want to jump into a national event such as the Chicago Triathlon. It is up to you, but make sure that it is something that excites you and motivates you to get to the start line. Look for an appropriate event soon, as the most popular events fill up very quickly. Finally, pick an event at least three months away so you have time to prepare for it.

2. Get a coach and a training partner

Once you have decided upon completing your first triathlon, drag a friend/partner/relative into it with you, and consider finding a coach. There are some good reasons for this. Training with someone is more fun and more inspiring. Those mornings your pillow is calling you back to bed, the knowledge that someone is waiting for you will make you get out of bed. Working with a coach is a good idea, as they will actively work to keep you motivated while guiding you through your first season.

3. Do some research

If you are going to invest time into preparing for a triathlon, you might as well do it right. Spend a day or two tracking down some triathlon resources. A great way to begin training for triathlon is to read one of the many triathlon-related books on the market. Your local library, or the neighborhood bookstore, is full of resources that can provide you with all kinds of information on triathlon. Everything from goal setting, guidelines for purchasing tri-related equipment and motivational stories are included in these books. Another useful source of information is the Internet. There are entire chat groups and hundreds of Web sites dedicated to triathlon, and many coaching services can be found online.

4. Finding facilities

You will need to find some facilities in which to practice. While running can be done outside almost all year round (dress appropriately!), biking and swimming are much tougher to do as the temperature drops and the snow builds. Most communities have at least one pool, and many gyms offer spin classes, which work well in lieu of outdoor riding. The local YM-YWCA will be a good, inexpensive choice, but depending on your schedule and budget there may well be other options. Pick a facility that motivates you to go, taking all factors into consideration; even if a gym has nice scenery and state-of-the-art machines, if you have to fight traffic after work to get there you may end up avoiding the place.

5. Developing a program

You’ve taken the hardest step — the first one. You’ve decided to begin training, but don’t train in vain. Train smart. You want to get the most you can from the time you are investing in training. More doesn’t always equal better.

Having a program to follow will help you to maintain your motivation, get you to workouts and develop your burgeoning talent. The best way to ensure that you are maximizing your training is to get a coach, but if that is not a viable option, it is possible to figure out your own training plan by doing some research.

One common mistake new triathletes make when starting out is training their best event. Running fast after struggling through a swim practice gives them a feeling of confidence. Nobody is equally strong in all three disciplines of triathlon, so focus more on your primary area for improvement so you become a well-rounded triathlete. For example, if you are a weaker swimmer, try to hit the pool three times a week and bike and run twice a week.

Read entire article by Lance Watson.

I plan to use Lance Watson’s article as a guide as I prepare for my first triathlon. What do you think?

Posted in: Triathlon Beginners

One Response

  1. Hi Scott,
    I think this is a decent article, but it should have included some recommended reading sources in terms of books. I have personally relied on Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible and Gail Bernhardt’s Training Plans for Multisport Athletes.

    A tip I can’t stress enough is motivation from fellow athletes. Get out on some rides with a local group or run with a friend, or join a masters group, etc. I personally like the solitude of running, but about once a week I might go for a run with a friend instead. Otherwise an iShuffle is my best friend. For swimming, I also like the solitude. Biking is another issue. I prefer cycling teams. To be honest, I find them more helpful and more realistic than tri teams (i.e. they will start at 9 or 10 AM for weekend bike rides instead of 7 AM).

    If you’re interested in reading old race reports, those are also great resources. Check out for a whole bunch… all distances, all types of athletes. Mine are on there too.

    Happy training! :)