There is no doubt about it. Whether it has been driven by the Brownlee brothers success at London 2012, people looking for something more than their local running event or the just the general increase in people participating in physical activities, the sport of triathlon is on the up. But of a sport that can seem a little serious at times, the experience in the Woodhouse office is that it is not all about expensive carbon fibre bikes and putting your life on hold to fit all of your training in. Far from it. Triathlon’s and the triathlon community are welcoming new people in with open arms as the sport continues to mushroom. And if you are new to the sport (everyone is at some point!), we wanted to share with you our top tips for those who are considering dipping their toe, and following it up with a bike and a run.
1. There are distances to suit everyone!
When people mention triathlon, it is easy to jump to epic sea swims, bike legs that would make the Tour De France look easy followed by a marathon. But whilst an Ironman can take up to 17 hours and people like Alistair and Jonny Brownlee will complete a “sprint” triathlon in 2 hours, there are in fact distances to suit everybody. GoTri organise events across the UK that will be a 200m swim, 10km bike ride and 2.5km run. It is also easy to find many local events who offer “sprints” with a 400m pool swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run and these will attract a lot of first timers.
Many people use these as an introduction to the sport and find they love it so much they want to go “longer”. That’s when you start to get in to the standard distance territory (also known as Olympic distance) of 1.5km swims, 40km on the bike and 10km runs. After that you are facing the longer stuff like half ironman distance (also known as 70.3 races) which are 1.9km swims, 90km on the bike and a half marathon and the ironman.
The ironman distance is 3.8km swim, 180km on the bike and a marathon to finish off. These are raced world wide by companies like Ironman, Challenge and our personal favourite Xtri.
>And if the ironman distance does not phase you…why not give this a go?
2. There are races local to you!
Triathlons can be organised by local triathlon teams, event companies and right through to governing bodies. British Triathlon provide a great list of races so it is easy to find an event on your door step.
3. The kit basics
OK, so it is easy to spend A LOT of money on triathlon. But that does not need to be the case. Lets break this down in to each discipline.
THE SWIM. If it is in a pool, it’s very simple. Your can get away with your trunks or swimming cossie and a pair of goggles! However, remember that you’ll need to get on your bike afterwards so consider what is going to be comfortable to put your bike clothes on top of. Even better is a tri-suit. If you are tackling an open water swim, more than likely for a race in the UK you’ll need a wetsuit. Consider renting one before you buy!
THE BIKE. EVERY transition area includes a wide range of bikes. You’ll see the fast ones with all the bling, but you’ll also see mountain bikes, hybrids and even BMXs. Ride what you feel comfortable on is the best rule of thumb! It is important o note that you’ll also need a helmet. British Triathlon rules insist on it. You will need to wear this when racking your bike before the race and put it on before you even touch your bike in the race! The final recommendation is a race belt! Whilst riding your bike, your number will need to be on your back, whilst on the run it needs to be on your front, so by attaching it to a belt you can simply rotate it around your waist… no need for two numbers or safety pins!
THE RUN. Simple. Trainers!
There are lot sore things you can consider like neoprene socks and gloves for a cold swim, lube to hep get your wetsuit off, arm warmers for the bike section, aero bars and power metres for your bike, lock laces for your trainers to help with a speedy transition… but let’s leave that for triathlon #2!
4. The “but I can’t swim” Problem
If you are lucky, you once picked up a rubber brick in your PJs when you were 3 and got a 25m badge sown on your shorts…if you were really lucky you learned to swim properly! However, if like the majority of people your swimming ability consists of doggy paddling across the pool in Ibiza to get another drink from the bar, fear not, you are not alone! For most participants, the prospect of a swim section of a triathlon fills them with dread. In some bigger events, the swim gets a bit rough, but that is the exception.
Breast stroking your way through the swim is perfectly acceptable. If you are doing a pool swim and you feel out of breath, take a rest at the end of a lap and start again when you are ready. Remember, this is fun and not supposed to be terrifying! If you are swimming in open water, the wetsuit will give you great buoyancy. So much you can turn on to your back and float for a rest!
5. Set yourself a goal
It can be a podium position, it can be a time, it can be to finish, it can be to raise money for charity. Whatever it is, use the goal as your motivation to train and enjoy the experience.
6. Find a training plan
There are lots of great resources online to help figure out what you need to do to get to the start line in your best shape. You can pick up training plans for every triathlon distance, join your local tri club who will often provide you with the training you need in a supportive environment or even consider getting a triathlon coach if you are taking it really seriously! We’d also recommend joining a triathlon forum where you’ll find people who will have the same questions you do, plus a wealth of people to give you answers!
7. Get family and friends involved
Having the support of your friends and family will make the world of difference. There may be occasions (not too many), where you can’t attend that social get together or you need an early night to recover from training, sitting down and explaining what you are trying to do and getting their buy in makes those rare occasions so much easier. And get them involved in your race day. Consider it a team event where their roe is to support and encourage. The extra energy boost you get from a friend’s cheer, a partners kiss or a child’s high five should not be under estimated. And what better feeling than letting them join you as you cross that finish line!
8. Enjoy the build up
You might think that spending your spare time swimming, cycling and running will be hell. It won’t. You’ll meet like minded people, be energised and feel fitter than you ever have done before. And hey, as your body adapts to training, why not use it as an excuse to restock your wardrobe with some new fashion!
9. Enjoy the day!
All the hard work is done now. Transition will be full of excited and nervous people. Have a chat with the people around you and you’ll soon find out you are in good company. Get in the water with the confidence you can have knowing that the training is done. Swim like a fish, bike with the wind behind you and run with a smile. Will it be hard? Maybe! Will there be others struggling? Without a doubt! Will it be fun? Damn right!
10. Be prepared to be “bitten by the bug”
If you think you will be “one triathlon and I’m done”, prepare to be in the minority! From personal experience, your first only leads to more races, and this in turn opens up a world of possibilities. Fancy a triathlon that starts with a swim from Alcatraz? How about one that starts with a jump off a ferry in to a Nowegian Fjord? Perhaps you prefer a warmer climate? If so, perhaps one day you can qualify to race in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii along with 2,000 other age group athletes. What ever you choose, you won’t regret it!
Check out our designer sportswear to kit out your training wardrobe – why let a bit of sweat spoil your style and with sportswear becoming a trending everyday look it’s a good excuse to bag yourself a top up of clothes. Are you taking part in any upcoming triathlon events? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweet us @WoodhouseTweets. Feel free to leave any extra tips for all the newbies to the community!