Give it a Tri! Three Tips to Training for Your First Triathlon!

give-it-a-tri-textIf you are looking for a different kind of fitness challenge this summer, you might consider giving triathlons a tri. Triathlons incorporate a swim, cycle, and run in one race. They range from a sprint length, which may take about an hour and a half to complete (you might see a .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run) up to an Ironman distance, which can have you out there for quite a few hours. Olympic distances fall in between the two.

There are many great benefits to the sport.

Cross training. Since you do three sports – run, bike, and swim – you are doing different workouts throughout the week. This means less stress on your joints and a better overall body workout.

Meeting new people. Triathletes and those who participate in the sport are a really tight-knit, great group of people. There are running, cycling, and swimming clubs in many areas. Most towns have a triathlon club. You might decide to participate in a few training sessions with others, such as a long cycle or an evening run. Getting out and meeting people interested in the same sport is likely to increase your desire to work out.

Feeling of accomplishment. Anytime you do a new sport or train for a race – and then finish – you realize how much you can do – even if, at the beginning (or during training, when times get tough!), you don’t feel you can pull through.

I completed my first triathlon a few summers ago. Here are my top tips for those interested in ‘tri’-ing one out:

  • Don’t spend a lot of money going in. Triathlons can get pretty expensive. You need equipment for each sport. Don’t go out and buy new things. I used my old bike for the race. I swam in my bike shorts and a sports bra (it was the middle of summer in Florida, after all!). Cold weather might require a swimsuit; you can rent these if needed. You’ll also need running shoes and swim goggles; the race will hand out a swim cap.
  • Consider hydration. This isn’t a half hour run; it’s about an hour and a half long race (or more). You’ll need to be hydrated. Work on this during training. You’ll want to drink and possibly eat something easy on the cycle so you are hydrated for the run, and so you don’t crash halfway through. Since most triathlons take place in summer, it can be hot, sticky, and humid. Consider gels or other types of fluid replacements that include electrolytes. Use these during training, because different people react to different types of replacements. For instance, gels upset my stomach, but jelly beans work well for me.
  • Be prepared for the training it requires. Again, this isn’t just a thirty minute run; it’s that plus up to an hour on the bike and fifteen minutes or more in the water. You have to train properly or risk injury. For those with super young kids who are getting up at all hours of the night, the training might be too much. Don’t push yourself through or you’ll risk injury or frustration when you can’t train. One of the best tips I got about training for my first tri came from a trainer with young kids. He told me most people over train. He put it this way: If you only have to swim for ten minutes, don’t spend forty-five minutes in the pool. It’s overkill, a waste of time, and is doing nothing for your goal – and may actually be hurting you physically. Instead, consider spending half an hour on the bike, ten in the pool doing laps, and a short cool down. Another day might be a thirty minute run.
  • Take rest days. One big problem I see with those training is they want to train every single day. Your body needs rest days. Otherwise the muscles can’t recover. Plan for five days of training and two days completely off. Spend those days resting and stretching as needed. Workout burnout happens all the time, and can lead to injury and fatigue (which we all know moms don’t have time for!). Look for a good triathlon training plan to follow, one that allows for rest days. I used this website when I trained for my triathlon: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/.

Have you ever considered participating in a triathlon? Have you done one in the past? What would be your advice for newbies to the sport?

Image via iStock

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Give it a Tri! Three Tips to Training for Your First Triathlon!

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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