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How To Prepare For Your First Triathlon

By Tom Doerr

If you’re not much of an exercise buff then entering an event where people are competing to be the fastest across three different forms of fitness can seem like the worst idea ever. That’s not true; the triathlon world is full of people of mixed abilities, from young to old, fit to fat. You don’t just have to go all out and compete in a full triathlon either; many people don’t even do the full event, maybe just two out of the three for fun.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy, it is a serious sporting event and taking part without any training could risk injury or serious problems. The key to success is training, the event consists of three activities, swimming, cycling and running. Assuming you know how to run, the only thing you might need help with is cycling and swimming, there is no point training or entering on of these events if you can’t do either of them, it’s that simple.

You will need running shoes, a warm swimsuit/triathlon suit, and a bike. The first two are relatively cheap but getting a bike is more serious than it sounds. You won’t necessarily be able to just pull your old chopper out of the garage and make it work, if you have an old bike take it to a bike shop and see if it is worth repairing. If can often be more cost-effective to buy a new one that fixing up an old one as you still end up with an old bike. The bike will need to be suitable for the event, there are triathlon specific bikes if you want to get serious but a decent lightweight mountain bike will do. You will need to train on this and learn basic maintenance in case of an accident, fixing a puncture is a must as is a pump and spare inner tube.

If it’s your first time, you are best off choosing a ‘sprint’ triathlon as this is a much shorter distance as usual, it doesn’t matter if you have run a marathon before as you use different groups of muscles and they are not as similar as you might imagine. The sprint triathlon consists of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run. People taking part in this kind of even are likely to be beginners too which will help you feel better about being out of breath.

You should begin your training well in advance, it takes around several months for your body to adapt to new activities but if you are in reasonably good shape and are already into sports you could probably train in as little as three months. Concentrate on your weakest area at first you will have to build up your skill before your fitness. Create a training schedule, have a strict timetable of at least 1 – 3 hours per day, 5 – 6 days per week. Vary your workout intensity, focus on sprinting and power one day but distance the next, this will help your body build up both strength and endurance.

Gradually build up your training to a point where you do two activities on each day, perhaps to triathlon distance. However you put it, a triathlon will be tiring so its up to you if you want to take up a couple of days training by practising a whole triathlon and recovering for a few days but you might not have the time for this.

Have a healthy, yet plentiful diet, you aren’t on a diet to lose weight as the training should do this for you but ensure you support the training by taking in the appropriate calories, protein and vitamins each day. This goes hand in hand with your training but will also eliminate any nasty habits from your existing diet. You could vary your diet in the days leading up to your event but consult a dietician before anything drastic, for the event, which will probably be an early start, have a light healthy breakfast with fruit. Invest in some decent energy supplements for the race which you should experiment with before hand but not use to train. Finally, take care and good luck.

If you want to take part in a triathlon, don’t go thinking you need to spend a heap of money, if you want you could do it in a Manchester United football shirt and a pair of Adidas f50 Adizero shoes.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Doerr, Tom "How To Prepare For Your First Triathlon." How To Prepare For Your First Triathlon. 6 Jul. 2010. 4 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Doerr, T (2010, July 6). How To Prepare For Your First Triathlon. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Doerr, Tom "How To Prepare For Your First Triathlon"

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