“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
This week marked the official start to triathlon training for me. And I’m not alone; it’s that time of year for a lot of athletes, including two of my friends who are trying their first triathlon this summer (good luck Jess and Kate!!).
In the spirit of them and all others trying a tri for the first time, I thought I’d dig into the archives and share a blog with some training tips for newbs. I added in a couple new nuggets of advice too. Happy training!
1. The Swim
This is typically the really intimidating part of a triathlon for most, especially if it’s an open-water swim. But don’t stress, the swim isn’t bad! It’s all about training then, more importantly, trusting your training on race day.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, now is the time to jump in the pool and start lap swimming. This will give you a chance to learn technique, practice breathing, even ensure your goggles fit properly. If you are a strong swimmer, brushing up a few weeks before the event never hurts.
Word of warning: An open water swim is totally different from a pool. It’s like doing all your marathon training on a treadmill, then finally hitting the road for the first time during the race. It’s gonna be a shock and much harder – that technique you’ve spent weeks, months or years perfecting will likely go right out the window. But by practicing in the pool, you’ll have a great foundation to help you through the first part of the race.
2. The Bike
More than the actual training, the type of bike you have matters. A lot! A road or hybrid bike is a great investment, as they’re lighter and go faster with less effort than mountain bikes or cheaper versions. You’ll really notice this during the race, when you’re putting a ton of effort into pedaling and someone on a road bike flies by with minimal effort.
If you can’t afford a new bike, try to borrow one from a friend – and be sure to take really good care of it. I borrowed a nice road bike from Chris last year and it made a huge difference. Another option? Go used. Bikes are like cars; you can get a perfectly good used one for much less than brand-new. Scope out local bike shops for sales or scour the paper for a used model.
3. The Run
The swim might be the most intimidating part of a tri but the run is the toughest part for many.
If you’ve never run a road race, try to find a small one prior to the tri. Not only is it a great way to experience the race-day atmosphere, it will get you mentally psyched.
If you’re a running pro, train like you would for any other race. With one additional component…
Bringing It All Together
The final tip I have, and really the key to overall triathlon training is brick workouts: doing two or more different workouts, one right after another. For example, a bike ride followed by a run. Triathletes often incorporate this style of training to prepare themselves for the multiple disciplines and transitions from one to the next.
Brick workouts are especially important for the bike-to-run transition. You’ll notice your legs feel much different post-bike than they do when you run with fresh legs. I’d also recommend a few swim-to-bike or swim-to-run workouts. Not as much for getting used to the transition but for practicing putting on a tank top and socks when you’re wet. FYI, that’s not easy and you don’t want to look super-awkward trying on your first race day (I did).
Good luck this triathlon season! Train hard now and trust your training on race day. You got this.
Need additional tips? Or have others to share? Comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.