Are you a beginning triathlete looking to get ready for your first race? Perhaps you have done a few triathlons already and you are looking to be better prepared and to improve your performance. Being well trained and well prepared are vital to your success and enjoyment of this great fitness event.
Pick Your Race
As a beginning triathlete, the very first thing to do is to plan and select a race to compete in. Perhaps a Sprint triathlon or one that is categorized as a Mini triathlon will be best suited for you. The official Sprint distances as determined by the International Triathlon Union and USA Triathlon are 750 meters (.47 of a mile) for the swim, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) for the bike and 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) for the run. The very best approach to triathlon training is to set up a structured workout schedule and then stick to it. This will yield great fitness benefits as well a satisfying feeling of accomplishment as you successfully complete each week of training. Planning your triathlon program about three months prior to the race is a good idea. Be sure to tapper by resting the last few days before the race.
Quality Over Quantity
Most triathletes will always tell you which of the three activities is their weakest event. It is a good idea to give that discipline more attention than the ones you are better at. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you just need to swim lots of laps, bike great distances and run many miles. The quality of your training is more important than the quantity. Keep in mind that it is very important to avoid overtraining. Your body's fitness level improves by adapting to the stress you apply. This adapting and recovery actually takes place from your rest (days off or easy days), proper nutrition and adequate sleep. Also, you should listen to your body to avoid any overuse injuries.
From Cycling to Running
One of my favorite training tips for the beginning triathlete involves the beginning of the run. During a triathlon race, you will definitely be pushing yourself hard on the bike and then when you start the run your legs will feel very odd. The start of the run is often considered the hardest part of triathlon by many folks. Your quadriceps muscles are very fatigued and your legs are used to doing the circular motion of peddling, not the running stride. After running for several minutes your legs will actually feel much better. In some of your training sessions try going into a run immediately after a bike workout. This does not need to be a long run or even considered one of your running workouts but just long enough so you can get your legs used to this difficult "cycle to run" motion change.
The Triathlon in Your Head
Another very useful tip to get ready for a triathlon (as well as many other activities) is to perform the mental practice of the event. While in a relaxed setting mentally visualize yourself going through everything you will encounter, from the very start to the finish line. Think about how you will feel and how you will perform. See yourself achieving your race goals. Plan in detail your transition activities. Come race day it will be a very helpful benefit to have already completed the race in your mind. Now your body just has to perform what is already programmed in your brain!
Know the Course
Also be sure you know the race course. Knowing what to expect on the course (turnarounds, transition areas, hills, water conditions, etc) will help immensely. The USAT website has triathlons rules listed and these are also something you need to be aware of. By following these simple tips the beginning triathlete can be well prepared for your next event. Have fun and be safe!