Starting out training for a triathlon can be overwhelming. There are so many things to learn. There are fears to overcome. And then there’s the training schedule! Here are 6 triathlon training tips for beginners that I consider essential to your training and your success at your first race:
1. Understand the course you will be competing on. If you can, do a practice run at the course itself. If that’s not possible, make sure to do two things on race day: study the map of the course, and warm up in the water so you’re not starting out cold! This will relieve a lot of the anxiety you may experience otherwise.
2. Get a few training buddies. You will need others to celebrate accomplishments with, and commiserate. Even if you just meet up once a week for a swim or run, it’s enough to keep you on track, find out what’s working well and what’s not for your friends, and keep you motivated.
3. If you’re wearing a wetsuit on the swim, practice in it! Wetsuits can be constricting and uncomfortable if you’re not used to wearing them. You don’t want any surprises on race day. So when you are practicing in the open water, wear your wetsuit. If you are strictly a pool swimmer, wear your wetsuit once a week.
4. Learn to change a flat tire. Hopefully you won’t have to do this in a sprint triathlon. But you may have to on a training ride. And you may be biking alone that day. Many bike shops have clinics to help you learn how to do this and other simple bike maintenance steps you may have to take.
5. Learn the proper way to run. I’m not saying you need to run a specific way in order to avoid injuries. But, learning about some of the popular methods out there like Chi Running and Pose Running will go a long way in helping you to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. Many triathletes and marathoners just assume that however they run right now is okay and won’t cause any problems. But before problems come up, it’s best to really explore running technique.
6. Don’t ignore nutrition. When you’re training a lot for an event, it’s easy to slip into the mode of “now it doesn’t matter what I eat because I’m training so hard!”. But this will no doubt get you in trouble. It’s important to keep up on healthy nutrition as you train. No doubt, you’re going to have the occasional “cheats”, but this is nothing to worry about- it’s when you are eating Clif bars for meals (or any other packaged food) that you might want to become conscious about your eating habits.
There certainly is a lot you need to know before you jump into your first triathlon. But it can be an experience of a lifetime and worth the effort…soon you may become “addicted” to the sport like so many others after doing their first race!