Running. Biking. Swimming. Each of these are enough of a workout on their own, but combining them? Triathlons are serious business. But, if you’re up for the challenge of pushing your body to the limits in the ultimate physical test of stamina, willpower, and versatility, then we’ve got you covered.
Let us help walk you through (no pun intended) the hardest race you’ll ever commit to:
Decide Your Goals
What’s your goal for this triathlon? Is it to get in better shape or do you have a specific race in mind? Is it to see if you can even attempt something like this? Figuring out your priorities for a triathlon will go a long way in terms of helping you determine the necessary level of training, and what areas (whether running, swimming, or biking) you need to focus on most. For beginners, a recommended mileage length for the entire triathlon is between 15 to 20 miles.
It’s simple: better equipment equals better performance. Sure, you could just throw on a pair of sneakers and practice with an old swimming suit and the bike in your basement, but high quality equipment helps support your performance and gives you higher confidence. It must just be worth the peace of mind knowing that your gear isn’t going to fall apart once you’re halfway through the race.
Consider Asics for running shoes and Shimano for your cycling shoes, Aquashere or 2XU for wet suit and other swim gear, and Liv/giant for all your bike needs. There are a lot of great companies out there; these few are some of the best.
Build Your Base
Before you go crazy trying to max out your running, biking, and swimming abilities, it’s important to figure out where you’re currently at. Establish your base, a simple walk or run routine to strengthen your joints and bones to get them ready for the upcoming training sessions. Trust us, your body will thank you. And remember: never increase in training distance or duration by more than 10% each week, otherwise you’ll be sorry. Also, schedule at least one rest day a week or one rest week a month. It’s impossible to keep making 10% gains each week; you’ll burn out. Instead, have recovery periods so you can come back stronger next time.
During this time, you also want to connect with a coach or fitness pro (ideally someone who’s competed themselves) to help with your training, offer guidance, and support. This is a person who can not only offer the best advice for you to perform at the top of your game, but also to help encourage you throughout your training when the workout starts kicking your butt.
Pace Your Training
You should be training for all three sports simultaneously. Make a plan where you swim, bike, and run on alternating days. Remember the rest day one day a week, and also incorporate a day where you do a little of running and then biking. Or, biking and then swimming. Become familiar with needing to shift gears mid-day.
An example week might be to swim 1,000 yards on Monday, bike 10 miles on Tuesday, swim again Wednesday, run two miles (at 75% effort) on Thursday, then rest on Friday. Pick it up again on Saturday with another thousand yard swim, but add in 10 miles of bike as well. Then, run four or five miles on Sunday. The following week, increase to 1,200 yards while swimming on Monday, and so forth.
The big day. Ideally, if you’ve followed your training and the advice of your coach, you’ll be as prepared as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help once you get on the track, like where to put your stuff down or how to rack your bike, if you need it. While you’re at it, check your bike tires for the proper pressure. Don’t forget to get there early so you have plenty of time to stretch and get ready. Races are stressful enough without needing to show up late and hustle to get into the swing of things.
Triathlons begin with the swimming portion and some races offer the opportunity to get in the water to warm up pre-race. Definitely get in if you can to get used to the water temperature and loosen your body up. When the race does start, let the competitive triathletes go first; you don’t want people swimming over you. Start slow, get your breathing down, and if you’re feeling good, build pace. While biking, have it in a moderate to low gear. While running, stick to short and quick running strides to save energy.
Finally, think positive and have fun. Once you lose mental energy or become negative in a race, you’ve already lost. Think happy thoughts (as cheesy as that sounds) and remember that the goal is to get to the end and make it across the finish line. That’s all it takes to win.