A guide to your first triathlon

Motion Blur Frozen

If you only listened to health news lately you’d think the entire western world is overweight and ill-prepared to do anything about it. But despite what the reports say about the number of obese people and those who lead mostly sedentary lives, plenty of people are out there being active. In fact there has been a marked increase in interest and participation in triathlons over the last decade.

You don’t have to take my word for it; some top athletes have taken to triathlons to help keep them fit for their main gig. Just look to Olympian Kelly Sotherton, rower James Cracknell, Formula 1 driver Jenson Button and hockey player Natalie Seymour just to name a few. These athletes all say the excitement of different sports keeps things interesting and challenging.

You’re probably thinking that no sane person would willingly put themselves through hell to swim, ride and run…for fun. The truth, however is that triathlon participation is on the rise because the focused training can help just about anyone become a triathlete.

Why should you begin training for your first triathlon? Why not; maybe you want to get in shape and having a focus will help you get there. Or perhaps you want the confidence boost that comes with a major accomplishment like this? Maybe it’s for a charity you hold near and dear, or maybe you just want bragging rights; whatever your motivation is, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepare before your triathlon training begins.

Triathlon Events

One of the reasons that many people shy away from triathlons is because they don’t feel confident in at least one of the 3 events. Chances are good that you are a confident cyclist but may not feel so confident about swimming more than a couple kilometres. The most common events in a traditional triathlon include running, cycling and swimming, but the type of event you enter will determine the distance of each event.

Swimming events in a triathlon can range from 200 metres up to 3.8 kilometres depending on the level of difficulty you choose. Cycling will likely be your strongest event, but recreational cyclists should beware because the shortest distance is a whopping 12.4 km and the longest is a staggering 180 km! Running makes up the third and final leg of the triathlon and can range from as short as 5 km up to 42 km.

Once you’ve decided which distance to start with, you can find a triathlon to enter. There are events throughout the UK you can take part in and begin training right away.

Thames Turbo Sprint Race is a one day event in August. Located in Hampton at the Open Air Pool, this event is a perfect race for triathlon newbies.

Oxford Tri Sprint Triathlon is another quick event at Radley College. Taking place in late August the Oxford Tri is a sprint distance, which means the events include a 400m swim, a 20 km cycle and a 5k run.

London ITU Triathlon World Championship race takes place in early September at the famed Hyde Park. This event requires athletes to participate in at least one qualifier race, finishing within a certain range of the winner in their age group. As this is an ITU event, the distances will be longer than sprint events.

Full Boar Wild Boar Middle Distance race is another one day event for the more experienced triathlete. This event takes place at the Market Bosworth Water Trust and includes a 1900m swim, an 84k cycle race and a 20k run.

Triathlon Gear

Training for a triathlon requires having the right gear to get the job done. In fact many triathletes consider shopping for the right gear an essential part of the training regimen. When finding the right gear you must always consider two factors: the fit and the cost. Just because you’re partial so a certain brand of cycling gear, doesn’t mean that brand will work well for running and swimming gear.

The gear has to fit perfectly and it should fit in your budget. So try on different brands and styles until you find one that fits your body and your wallet.

Remember that your race times will include transition times so choose your triathlon clothing wisely. You’ll need a swimsuit or swim shorts, but experienced triathletes often opt for a compression suit that allows you to reduce transition time by wearing it for all 3 events.

Next there is all the additional gear you’ll need including a proper cycle, helmet, swim goggles, running shoes and water units for the cycle and running legs of the race. Some runners use a heart rate monitor, bike maintenance equipment and finally, a transition bag.

You won’t need everything right away so as you start your months of triathlon training you will have to decide exactly what you need and what would be a waste of money. Just make certain you aren’t using any brand new equipment or gear on the day (or days) of the triathlon.

Good luck!

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

One Response to A guide to your first triathlon

  1. smorkey 31/08/2013 at 7:32 pm #

    you can also do duathlons if you don’t like swimming

Leave a Reply