There are lots of great reasons to take part in a triathlon. For some, it’s an interesting new challenge, for others, it’s a great form of cross-training to overcome injuries, and some people just feel that they’re good enough at running, swimming, and cycling to give all three a go at once. Whatever your reasons for entering may be, here are our tips on getting ready for a triathlon.
Don’t Go Too Far
There are two meanings to this tip. The first is not to travel too far for your first event. The location of the race in relation to your home might seem irrelevant, but choosing one near you allows you to familiarise yourself with the route, train there, and reduces the stress of getting there on time with all your gear on the day.
The second meaning is not to choose an event that goes too far for a first-timer. For your first triathlon, you should try to choose a sprint-distance event. This involves 0.5 miles of swimming, 12.4m of cycling, and 3.1m of running, and will be the best way to ease into the triathlon world.
Wait to Get the Gear
As the unplayed guitar or unused dancing shoes lying in the back of your closet can tell you, there’s no point in buying lots of expensive, flashy gear for your new hobby before you’ve actually tried it out. While it can be easy to convince yourself that investing a load of money in a new wetsuit or a fancy bike will help you make better time, you should be able to complete the event without them. Do a couple of races to ensure you’ll stick with it before buying anything you can’t return.
Possibly the sole exception to this rule is footwear, which can have an enormous impact on your training and performance. But a good sports shoe won’t set you back too much, and is something you should have anyway. To learn how to pick out the right pair for you, see our blog on choosing the right running shoes.
As with any other race, people taking part in a triathlon will usually be concerned with their final time. While the final results are usually what matters most (after having fun, of course), you should put this out of your mind the first time and just focus on finishing. Many first-time participants are often caught off-guard by how intense the combination of exercises can be, especially in a competitive environment, so just focus on finishing for now. You should also go slow for the first have of the race, to avoid burnout later on, which will help you pace yourself in future events.
Eating well on the day of the race isn’t enough to prepare yourself for it. Ideally, you should be eating plenty of carbs and protein in the few days leading up to the race, and particularly the 24 hours before it. Your last heavy meal, most likely dinner the night before, should be at least 10 hours before the race, while breakfast that day should be 3 hours before. This will help you get the slow-release energy you’ll need, without risking a bloated feeling during the event.
Triathlons can be an intense experience, but they can also be a very rewarding one. Just remember that they are specifically designed to be one of the most challenging events out there, so taking it slowly at first is a must. Rushing into any new situation will always increase your chances of making a mistake, which could put you off something you could genuinely enjoy. So prepare well, take your time, and just focus on finishing for now.