Beginning your training for a triathlon can be difficult and confusing. What equipment do you need? How much should you train? How do you mentally prepare for a race? And lastly, the training plan! Triathlon training for beginners can be boiled down to a few steps. I’ve come up with 6 tips for beginner triathletes looking for success in their first race.
1. Train with friends or with a group. This will help you to stay accountable, to stay on track, and to keep motivated. Even if you meet with a friend once a week for a workout, this goes a long way in making sure you stay in shape. You will also need these training buddies to help you celebrate goal achievements, exchange the latest info, and even voice a complaint to here and there.
2. Learn the course that you will be racing on. This one seems like a no-brainer, but so many beginners don’t do this, and end up lost or confused during the race! A good way to prevent this is to practice on the course itself before your race. If it’s too far away or not feasible for you to do that, there are a couple of other things you can do here: examine the course map and simply do a swimming warm up the morning of the race- so you don’t have to start out cold and stiff. This will also help to get rid of a lot of stress that many athletes succumb to on the morning of the race.
3. Learn to fix a flat tire. The odds of you having to do this in a sprint triathlon are low. However, you may be forced to change a flat on a training ride. And, that may be a day when you are biking solo. Lots of triathlon shops and bike shops hold classes on repairing flat tires, and other basic bicycle maintenance that can prevent big problems later.
4. Practice in your wetsuit. Most triathlons allow wetsuits. If you wait until your race to put on a wetsuit, you may encounter some trouble! If you’re not used to them, wearing a wetsuit can sometimes be uncomfortable- and even a hinderance to your swimming. A good goal is to swim in your wetsuit once a week while you train.
5. Focus on running technique. A lot of people ignore this when they train for a triathlon. They think they already know how to run. But this can often lead to injuries. Running techniques like Pose and Chi can be helpful in allowing you to figure out what works and what doesn’t in your running form. This is a case of where pre-emptive action will save yourself a lot of time and agony later.
6. Pay close attention to nutrition. So many new triathletes have goals like becoming more fit, or losing weight. But they blow these goals by training hard and then eating “whatever they want” after big workouts. This will lead to trouble! Not only will you likely not achieve your fitness goals, but you will overall have less energy. This isn’t to say that triathletes need to have a strict diet and never eat dessert or have a beer here and there. But for the most part, the carb-heavy foods are the downfall of so many athletes I have seen. Keep a close eye on the number of “energy bars” you are downing, as those are often loaded with sugar and chemicals and can take you off your game.
Triathlon training for beginners can be a bit overwhelming as far as what you need to know before diving into your first triathlon. But undertaking a triathlon is where breakthroughs happen in life, and by doing your first race, you never know what kind of outcome you may experience- you may even form an “addiction” to the sport!
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