How to get Started in Triathlons

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By Branden Scheel | Fargo SCHEELS Triathlon Pro Staff

Triathlons may seem daunting, but it is a sport that anyone can get into at any level of fitness. There are a variety of distances that can be raced as well as many different levels of competition. For those looking to get started, this blog post will help you learn more about how to prepare and find the right race to get started.

Types of Triathlons

The four lengths of triathlon are:

  1. Sprint: 350-700yd swim, 10-18 mile bike, 2.5-4.5 mile run (courses may vary)
  2. Olympic: 1600yd swim, 24-26 mile bike, 10k run
  3. Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  4. Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

When starting out, the most common is the Sprint. This race allows you to get a taste of the sport without getting yourself in too deep. Take a look around your area and find one that interests you most; whether that may be for the scenery, medals or location. Make sure to give yourself at least 2 or 3 months to train.

Training for the Swim

Swimming is usually the leg that turns away the most people, but it is by far the shortest leg of the race. Training for the swim is easy! Just get in the pool or lake and swim. Once you can make it 300yds without stopping you can start to add 50 and 25 yard workouts. Because it is the shortest leg of the race, you will only need to swim 2 times a week to make it through this leg.

Training for the Bike

The bike is going to make up around 50% of the race, so you need to get comfortable on your bike. A common misconception is that you’ll need a very fast and expensive bike to do triathlons. This cannot be further from the truth. I’ve seen people compete on fat bikes, little girls on princess bikes, older athletes on cruisers, the list goes on and on, but the point is that you can do a triathlon on any bike of your choosing! All that you will need to do is go out and bike! Ride 3-4 times a week and try to get to the race distance. Make one ride a little shorter and faster, another a longer slower ride. Switch it up with distances and routes to keep it enjoyable. Once you get more into the sport and are looking to go further and faster, upgrading to a road bike, like a Trek Lexa or Domane, will help make the bike leg easier.

Training for the Run/Walk

The run is where you get to cross the line and say for the rest of your life that you are a triathlete! Don’t feel bad if you need to walk during this leg, especially on your first one. The feeling of getting off your bike makes your legs feel like jelly and will take some getting used to! Go out for a jog with the dog, run through a scenic park or watch TV on the treadmill 2 or 3 times a week for just a short 2-5 miles.  Doing this will ensure you will be ready to rock this last part of the race!

Training a Healthy Body

All this training will mean your body is going to have special needs such as nutrition and recovery. For hydration, try Powerade, Propel and other electrolyte drinks to keep replenishing what you are using to build muscle and endurance. Experiment with workout foods like Gu and Clif Bars to see what you like to keep your body full of energy while working out and on race day. Recovery aids like 2xu compression socks after your workouts will help with the soreness the next day and help you be ready for your next workout faster.

Triathlons are a great sport to get into and they can bring you to a new level of fun and fitness! Grab a friend and help motivate each other to cross the finish line of your very first triathlon this summer!