A beginner's guide to triathlon prep - Part 1

Choosing an event / Where to start
When starting off in triathlon, it’s the beginning of a fun journey into multisport, but that can raise lots of questions on where to start and how to go about it. Which event to choose, which distance, what kit do I need, what training do I need to do?
  • Choosing a distance based on your level of fitness, how much time you have to train and your sporting background will help keep things manageable, realistic & enjoyable. Being able to do each discipline and continuously exercise for a sustained period of time is a good guideline to start with.
  • Starting off with a Sprint or Super Sprint is a great introduction to Triathlon and easier to complete, and there will be plenty of time to advance to longer distances or go farther afield when the time is right. But if something longer suits you initially and you’re confident with the challenge, then there is no reason why not. Be mindful of how the distances increase and with that, the bike becomes a bigger overall portion of the total distance.
  • Keeping it local. Entering a nearby event, where you’re familiar with the location, route or even the host club, helps to keep things familiar and thus easier to prepare for and visualise. This can likewise be useful for help, racing with friends and having family & friends to support.
  • Pool swim or open water? Flat bike course or hilly? Road run or trail? Check out the event information so that you are aware of the course profile and can train & prepare appropriately. Additionally so that you have equipment to suit the terrain.
  • If you decide to go further afield or abroad, factor in additional time, travel, hotels and costs. Consider the time of year or season and possible climate or likely weather conditions.
  • Many events will hold a training day for first timers or those new to the sport, and this provides an ideal opportunity to get some hands on advice about the simple things to know on race day, as well as to see the course and familiarisation with the location & surroundings. 
Pre-race preparation
  • Even if you know the location of the event well, research the course profile and route beforehand so that you’re familiar with the terrain, any bends or notable sections of the course. It provides good peace of mind on race day and helps to visual what’s coming up ahead.
  • Make sure you have the right kit. Can you borrow some if not? You don’t need the latest gadgets or new equipment to start with, just enough to cover the 3 disciplines.
    • Swimsuit or wetsuit if open water, goggles & swim hat
    • Working bike & helmet
    • Pair of trainers & running kit
    • A trisuit is a nice item to have but not essential to start with.
    • A race belt is a cheap and simple way of attaching your race number for the bike & run.
  • Write out a checklist for all of your kit, nutrition, and things to do and have pre & post race. Layout your kit beforehand and check that you have everything.
  • Work back time wise on race morning so you have plenty of time for a light breakfast and hydration and avoid rushing.
  • Stick to what you normally eat & drink and avoid changing too much on the day or in the days before your event.
  • Practice a brick session from bike > run so you’re familiar with that feeling of heavy legs when trying to run after the bike. Likewise with open water swimming if your event is in a lake, river or the sea.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the event rules and any time or other requirements on 

By Total Tri Training coach Chris Wood https://www.totaltritraining.com/chris-wood/