Competing in a triathlon may be on your bucket list, or it may be a goal that you have recently decided to work on. A triathlon can be a daunting event for even experienced competitors, since it combines swimming, cycling, and running. There are a variety of different lengths of triathlons, from sprints to Ironman competitions. The sprint consists of a 0.47-mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and then a 3.1-mile run. The Ironman or ultra-distance triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon at the end. Whether you compete in a sprint or an Ironman, it is important to take your training seriously before you compete in the race. A good training schedule can help you safely reach your goal.
Before signing up for the race, you may have already identified one area where you feel you need additional help or training. It is important that you address each of the different events to be sure you are comfortable completing the activities. At the same time, you need to make sure you are training for all three equally so that you are prepared to complete all three events on the same day. Most triathletes will train both in the morning and evening on different skills. You may want to join a triathlon training group to help you find the right balance for your training.
As with any athletic event, it is important to take good care of yourself while you are training. You need to be sure you are eating enough to maintain your weight with the additional training that you are doing. Choosing healthy options can help you stay healthy while you are training. Additionally, if you experience any injuries due to overuse or accidents while training, you should see your doctor right away to make sure they do not get worse and prevent you from competing in the future.
If you are not a strong swimmer, you may want to consider signing up for a swimming lesson or two before you even begin swimming. Many triathlon races take place in open waters. If you have never swam in open waters, it is essential that you practice and improve your skills. The pull of the tide on the beach or in a river is different from the swimming you will do in your pool. You also may want to purchase a wetsuit for the competition, especially if you will be competing in a cooler climate. Many swimmers focus on building their arms and try to avoid using their legs as much to conserve energy for the later events.
- 10 Elements of the Perfect Freestyle Stroke
- Very Basic Swimming Tips for Triathlon Training
- Prepping for the First Leg: Swimming
- Swimming and Water Safety Manual (PDF)
- Open-Water Swimming Tips
When you are preparing for the bicycle portion of the race, one of the most important steps is to purchase a good lightweight cycle. Some bikes are specially designed to help preserve leg muscles for the upcoming run. It is also important to have a helmet. Cycling should be a regular part of your training schedule, and you may have days when you combine cycling with either swimming or running. The amount you train each week depends on the type of triathlon you plan to compete in.
- Cycling Training Tips
- Cycling Tips for Triathletes
- A First-Timer's Guide to Buying a Bike
- Tips on Cycling in Time Trials and Triathlons (PDF)
- Eight-Week Training Plan for Cyclists
Running in a triathlon is different from other races because it is after you have already competed in two difficult events before the run. In order to help you with the transition, it is important to have training days when you transition straight from cycling to running. Choosing a good pair of training and competitive shoes can help improve your running time. It is also important to think about your overall technique. You can visit a running coach to improve your basic running stance and conserve energy for the running portion of the competition. Proper running technique can help you avoid overuse injuries and shave time off of your runs. Although it may seem like a basic skill, a few sessions with a running coach may really help you improve and build the endurance you need to finish the triathlon.