How to Train for your First Triathlon
Because you’ll need to juggle workouts in three sports, it can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Triathlon SWIM Training
You’ll need access to a pool. If you don’t have a gym membership, or your gym doesn’t have a pool – check your local high school for open swim schedules. Many gyms also offer a swim pass which allows access to just the pool using a ‘punch card’.
If you can’t swim 200 yards (4 laps of the pool) continuously, you might want to check into an adult swim lesson where you’ll learn the basics and develop correct swim form right off the bat.
Although the name sounds intimidating, joining a Master’s swim group (basically adult group swim practice) is a great way to get in your swimming. Master’s classes will have a set workout as well as a coach on deck providing tips and guidance during the practice.
Triathlon BIKE Training
You may already be a casual bike rider. If you’re not, considering everything that’s supposed to be easy is “like riding a bike”, it shouldn’t be too hard to remember how. The biggest things to consider when riding now are safety and maintenance.
Planning your workouts around lighter traffic flows, ensuring you’re visible to motorists and obeying the rules of the road (riding as far right as possible) are key to having a safe ride. Although stopping at every stop light/sign can feel like it’s slowing you down, don’t give in and roll through them – think of them like interval training and come to a complete stop!
Basic bike maintenance involves keeping your tires inflated, knowing how to change a flat and keeping your chain lubed. If you don’t know how to change a flat, your local bike shop should be happy to show you how. They may even offer a basic bike maintenance workshop – if they do, take advantage – you’ll learn a few skills and be more confident when you’re out on your bike.
Triathlon RUN Training
Presumably, you’re already a runner. If that’s the case, getting started running should be the easy part for you. What’s not always easy is getting used to the rubbery feeling in your legs after hopping off your bike. Although the feeling goes away after a ½ mile or so, get used to it by doing a few “brick” workouts (running immediately after biking) in your training.
To become more efficient in the transition from bike to run, one thing you may want to work on is matching the cadence on your bike and run. By matching the revolutions/steps per minute, your legs are moving at about the same rate during both events and transitioning between the two becomes less of a challenge. Your cadence may vary a bit throughout a ride or run but the general rule of thumb for a beginner triathlete is 80-90 rpm/spm.
The perfect way to get started in triathlon is to try your hand at an indoor event first. It will give you a glimpse of what it’s like to do all 3 events at once. The YWCA of Minneapolis and Lifetime Fitness both offer indoor triathlon events.
Watching a triathlon can also be a good way to prepare yourself for your first race. Seeing how others set up their equipment, how they transition from one sport to the next and simply feeling the energy of triathlon is a great way to calm your nerves and get you ready to participate in your first triathlon!