Deciding how to train for a triathlon can be daunting for the beginner. How much training you need to do before your first triathlon depends on many factors. It depends on what level of fitness you are at in all three disciplines, and it depends on what your goals are – do you want to do a sprint, a standard, middle or full distance? Do you want to be competitive, or just be able to finish the race?
Tips for beginner triathletes:
- Go short before going long. Begin with a shorter sprint-distance event or an Olympic-distance event.
- Stay close to home. For the first race, make it easy on yourself and select an event close to home. This will reduce race-day stress and hassle.
- Your current bike is fine. Any bike you’re currently riding will work just fine. It can be a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid.
- Buy a good pair of running shoes. Go to a specialist running store and let the experts in the store help you select the right pair of running shoes. They should ask you questions about your feet, running history and watch your gait while walking and running.
- It doesn’t take as much training as you might think. You can be ready for a sprint-distance race on less than five hours per week of training. Links to some suitable training plans can be found below.
- Plan to rest. Many inexperienced triathletes fail to include adequate rest in their training programmes.
- Practice your transitions. All of the time between the start of your swim and when you cross the finish line at the end of the run counts.
- Plan to do the first half of the race slower. Most beginners start too fast. Estimate how much time you think it will take you to do the entire event. Plan to do the first half of that total time at a slower pace than you think you’re capable of doing. When you reach the half-way point, you can pick up the pace and finish strong. This is called a negative-split effort.
More information for beginners
Below are links to some useful articles. These are general guides that will help you plan your training. They will help you to choose from, and customise, the myriad of training plans that are available on the Web.
- Read the New to triathlon page on the Triathlon Ireland Website.
- Beginners 12 Week Triathlon Training Plan – this 12 week training plan, prepared by the Triathlon Ireland coaching team, is suitable for beginner triathletes with a basic level of running fitness.
- Buying Guides – the Triathlon Ireland team have produced some useful equipment buying guides.
- Nutrition planning – some more guidelines from the Triathlon Ireland coaching team.
- Triathlon: 13 Essential Tips for Beginners – Tri coach, Adam Kelly, shares his top triathlon tips for beginners to ensure your first race goes swimmingly.
- How Do I Train For My First Triathlon? – former professional triathlete, Matt Fitzgerald provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions he receives from beginners.
Jumping In: Key Triathlon-Training Guidelines For Beginners – another article by Matt Fitzgerald, a little more detailed than above.
- Beginner’s Triathlon training guide – seasoned competitor and coach, Rick Kiddle, provides a comprehensive training model for beginner level triathletes looking to improve their performances.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Triathlon – a very comprehensive guide from BeginnerTriathlete.com
- How to Race Your First Sprint Triathlon In 12 Weeks – if you’re thinking of doing your first triathlon but your training hasn’t quite taken off yet, this feature is written with you in mind.