Triathlon is often associated with elite athletes doing huge distances and will loads of high-end equipment and gear. The truth is that triathlon is accessible and available to everyone and there are plenty of events out there with different distances to choose from for the beginner triathlete. Here are few basic starter points to prepare you for your first triathlon.
1. The fundamental equipment you will need
To enter into a triathlon the basic items you will need for the three disciplines (swim, bike, run) will be a trisuit and most likely, a wetsuit if in the UK (you can rent these easily), goggles, a bike, a helmet and some running shoes. The idea is that after you’ve completed each course, you will change into the next appropriate attire back in transition where you have racked your bike.
2. Start with a ‘sprint’ distance triathlon
A good distance to start with for the beginner triathlete is with a ‘sprint’. This comprises a 400m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run which are manageable distances and will get you used to the changeover between the three sports.
3. Preparing for the swim
The swim course often causes the most anxiety pre-race because it takes that extra bit of effort to get to the pool and practice. One key thing to remember is to make sure that you are calm and relaxed in the water. This is the beginning of the race and you still have to ride and run so don’t haste and wear yourself out. Try and get as much practice at the pool doing front crawl as you can to allow your body to feel comfortable in the water. If you are trying to improve your stroke, British swimmer, Keri-anne Payne has some fantastic tutorials to get some guiding advice.
4. Preparing for the cycle
After you leave the water, you will be guided back to transition where you would have racked your bike before the race. This is when you need to pull off your wetsuit (underneath you should be wearing your tri-suit or shorts and top), get your shoes on, make sure your helmet is on your head before you get your bike off the rack. Then once on your bike, settle into your rhythm – if it is a sprint triathlon you can afford to push it a little, if it’s longer distance then make sure you pace yourself according to what you have done in your training. Stay hydrated on the bike with regular sips from a water bottle which you can afix to your bike with a bottle cage.
5. Preparing for the run
After you’ve completed the bike course, you will return to transition and a marshall will tell you when it’s safe to get off your bike. You will then run back to your rack – pop you bike back on it, remove your helmet and swap your bike shoes for trainers if necessary. This is also a good time to grab an energy gel if you are feeling a bit defeated which will give you a burst of energy for your final push. Don’t be alarmed if your legs take a few minutes to get back into sync after having been on the bike. This is a normal sensation. Take the run at a steady pace and then give it a final burst at a slightly faster pace in the last kilometre if you have enough gas in the tank.