Way back in 2015, when I was about to tackle my first ever triathlon I thought to myself… what would I say to someone who is interested in taking on their first triathlon but just not sure?! So I put together this post with a few things which I think you need to know before you sign up…
There’s a distance for everyone
Back in 2015, Castle Triathlon introduced the Starter Sprint distance which I had planned on taking on at Hever Castle in September. It’s a 200m swim, 15km bike ride and 2km run. It’s doable and will give you a taste and a little experience for the longer events. They also also have a ton of variations including a duathlon (run – bike – run) and a swim-run aquathlon if you want to try just two disciplines first.
So what if you’re not a strong swimmer / cyclist / runner*
(delete as appropriate) …well, you know I didn’t even know how to swim properly just a few months before I signed up for a triathlon?! Everyone has their weakness so you just focus your training to suit your needs. I spent most of my time in the pool, kept my legs ticking over at races and run club, and then kinda just hope that I would remember how to ride a bike by race day!
You don’t need posh kit for your first triathlon
…yup. You can hire a wetsuit. You can hire a bike. Borrow a mates bike even (Still got mad love for Freya who lent me her bike when mine was stolen before my duathlon!). You’ve got trainers lurking around right?! The rest is all optional. And if you get hooked on triathlon you can treat yourself and invest in the things that just make life a little easier! And if Mara can prepare for an Ironman spending less than £1,000 on all the gear… we can do a teeny tiny distance for starters and spend a fraction of the amount.
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You can swim, cycle and run in one event
..because you will trained for it using BRICK sessions. You don’t need to do all three in your training but practicing the bike to run transition, even if in a gym will get your body used to the change in motion.
In hindsight (isn’t it a wonderful thing?!) I would recommend making sure you practice all three events as balanced as possibly. Yes, you should focus on your weakness but don’t neglect the other area(s). Try to at least get in one “long” ride a week and the same for a run, if like me your weakness is swimming; then that leaves you will room for 3-4 training sessions in a week which can be made up of swimming and BRICK sessions. Sound like a plan?!
There are clubs with lots of crazy people who love this stuff
…and they will support you on your journey if you can’t find a friend to rope in! You might even make more friends! Being surrounded by people who have experience in triathlon will inspire you and also fill you with invaluable knowledge!
A Pool Swim or Open Water?
When I first signed up for Windsor Triathlon, I had no idea I would be swimming in the River Thames. I’m not sure anyone would by choice but I was assured that the section we’d be in was substantially cleaner than the majority of the river! One thing people did suggest I do, and I’ve just been reminded about, was to really try and visit an open water lake in the run up to your event to get used to it as it’s a very different sensation to swimming in a pool. I tagged along to some open water sessions at The Serpentine with Swim for Tri when I was training and would highly recommend you do that too if you sign up for an open water event!
Everything else you need to know
…and everything you might not even wanna know can be found in Tricurious: Surviving the Deep End, Getting into Gear and Racing to Triathlon Success. I read this book from cover to cover, laughing out loud whilst underlining the nuggets of information I may need to refer to before race day. I still own this book because I’m sure I will go back to triathlon one day and it will be just the motivation that I need to remember why!
So what is standing between you and your first triathlon?!