As a beginner to triathlon, you probably have a lot of questions. The best advice I have for a beginner’s first triathlon is to take it easy and to have a good time – it’s not brain surgery and should be fun.
Here are seven tips for the triathlon beginner:
1. For beginners, triathlon training should be targeted to a shorter distance race – almost always a sprint triathlon. Sometimes you can even find a beginner triathlon advertised in your area. Today races fill up pretty quick, so pick a race and sign up now (this will also give you a goal race to keep you committed).
2. Come up with a triathlon training plan. There are some great beginner triathlon training plans available on the web.
3. Triathlon beginners usually need to work on their swimming. So the next step is to find a pool where you can train. If you can find one with a swim coach or masters swimming program that is ideal. Otherwise, try to get a more experienced triathlete or certified triathlon coach to help. You’ll find several additional swimming tips here on my site.
4. Beginner triathlon training mileage should be reasonable. You will be tempted to over train at the beginning, especially if you are already a strong athlete. Try to resist the temptation. Triathlon beginners should work on their weakest event the most, and just make sure they can finish the other events. You can build speed after you finish your first race.
5. Practice your transitions, but don’t go overboard. A beginner triathlon bike leg transition is especially good to practice by doing a few “brick” workouts – where you complete a bike workout and then go for a run before you cool down. But take it easy. Just make sure you have all your triathlon gear ready and that you know how you plan to get it on and off in the transition area. That is plenty of preparation for your first triathlon.
6. Listen to pre-race instructions carefully and ask questions if you have them. Everyone was a triathlon beginner once, so don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. It seems like almost every triathlon has some slightly different setup, so even professionals have to ask questions about things like where to rack a bike, how to get from the swim area to the bikes, where the bike dismount area is and other details. If you have questions, ask.
7. Relax and enjoy your first triathlon. Don’t forget to have fun during the intensity of the race. Take pride in the fact that you reached your goal. If you have any challenges (the most common are mechanical problems on the bike) just remember that this is your first race. Remind yourself that you are just “learning the ropes” – don’t add performance pressure until you have first proven to yourself that you can do it.
If you follow these seven tips you’ll have a great first triathlon – and be on your way to going from a “beginner triathlete” to a “competitive” one.