It’s March, spring is coming, and it’s time to shake off your winter blues and start training! If you want to train for your first triathlon, now is the time! It’s fun, it’s positive, and when you cross the finish line (no matter the distance) you’ll feel like you’ve really accomplished something.
It can be really intimidating to start training for a tri, though. First of all, there’s the gear. Then there is the actual training. This week, we’re going to focus on the disciplines of triathlon and how to get started and feeling confident. Next week, we’ll go through the gear checklist.
1. Identify your goal. How much time do you have to train? What kind of prior experience you have? Most people start with training for a sprint triathlon, where you swim just under a half mile (750 meters), bike 14 miles (20 km) and run just over three miles (5 km.) The next distance up is an Olympic/International Distance, which is more time-consuming. To train safely, you should budget about three months to train for your first sprint and four and a half to train for your first Olympic Distance tri.
2. Find a tri club and pick a training plan. The best place to start with this is your local triathlon club! Tri clubs exist in most cities in the United States. Some are very structured and you follow a strict schedule, while others are more loosely-organized. Either way, this is a great way to make friends to train with, and to come up with a training plan. You’ll meet experienced triathletes who can share their plan with you and most likely the club will be affiliated with coaches who can help you with your plan. Or, search for plans on the internet. There are so many free ones available like this sprint plan from Tri Newbies, or this four-month Olympic Distance plan from Leon’s Triathlon.
3. Get a coach. If you are participating in a highly-structured triathlon club, this isn’t necessarily what you need to do, but if you’re planning to train a lot on your own, it is a great idea to work with someone that can help you craft a plan based on your body. If you can’t afford it, no worries - you can totally still complete a triathlon! Coaching is also great for individual disciplines, particularly swimming. A lot of people haven’t been in a pool in a long time and are afraid to start tri training for that reason. Gyms have masters swimming classes and private lessons that will help you get back into the pool. When you start practicing open water swimming, be sure to go out with other people to stay safe and learn how to do it.
Cross the finish line feeling proud and strong!
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