How to train for a Triathlon: Beginner's Tips

If you are ready to kick your legs, spin your wheel and take a stride towards your first triathlon, you are likely wondering exactly where you should be starting and what you should be focusing on. With three distinctive disciplines combined into one big challenge, there are plenty of things to think and potentially worry about. Luckily, we have narrowed these down to a few key aspects that you should be focusing on when training for a triathlon, be it your first or your third time.

Whether it is finding the time to schedule in you training session or learning how to tackle transitions like a pro, here are 7 tips on how to train for a triathlon.

1.    Personalise your triathlon training

The key is to start early and slow. Your chances of swimming, running, and cycling a successful triathlon will come down to regular and consistent training rather than rushed or sporadic workouts.

If this is your first time training for a race or any form of endurance challenge, finding a training schedule which is fitted to your own daily life is key to helping you progress and achieve your goals. There is no point in trying to fling the first training program that shows up on google at your day-to-day routine. Instead, try to identify any spare chunks of time you may have throughout your week and during which you could incorporate your training. 

Whether it is in the morning before going to work or in the afternoon before dinner, find a timing which suits you best – when you feel energised and motivated. Even if you cannot find the time to dedicate a full two hours to your training, shorter 30 minutes sessions spread throughout the week can be just as effective in keeping you on track towards achieving your goals.

2.    Get in touch with other triathletes

Whether it is your first time training for a triathlon or your fifth, it is always enjoyable to have someone else to share the experience with. With triathlons growing in popularity, you will likely find groups of swimming, cycling, or running enthusiasts in your area who will be both more or less experienced than yourself. Whether it is finding someone to train with or just someone to give you some advice, your training journey does not have to be a solitary one.

3.    Quality over quantity

You should always keep in mind that, although the triathlon is made up of three distinctive parts, your training does not necessarily have to be equally divided. Everyone will have their strengths and weaknesses. If you are already feeling confident in your cycling but you are still working on perfecting your front crawl, maybe try dedicating more of your time to your swim training and vice versa. As we have mentioned before, your time and energy are limited so it is important that you make the most of them by assigning them efficiently.

Similarly, you should try to balance your workouts from one week to the next. You should avoid tiring yourself out on the same run every morning just to end up half motivated to swim your laps in the afternoon. Instead, try to appoint and prioritise a main workout for the day to help you progress towards your primary goal of completing a triathlon.

4.    Practice training combinations

The very thing which makes triathlons such tough yet thrilling challenges are the transitions from one discipline to the next. You may feel confident completing your runs, bike rides and swimming laps individually, but the matter may be different once you need to do them all back-to-back.

As you progress with your training, it will be imperative that you practice combining these workouts; this is known as brick training. On the day of your triathlon, you will need to execute two transitions: from swimming to cycling, and from cycling to running. These are the combinations that you should try to incorporate into your training once you feel confident in each individual discipline. 

5.    Work on Your Transitions

Whilst transitions may pose a physical challenge, they may also pose a more practical one. Changing from a wetsuit into biking shorts and eventually into running gear is hard enough when you are not exhausted from cold swim and pressured on by your neighbouring competitors.

To avoid wasting time and help you feel more prepared, make sure to practice these transitions at least a handful of times leading up to the race day. This will also be a good time for you to check that your equipment is well adapted for its purpose and that you are set on what you need to bring with you.

6.    Try out open water swimming

Many people who get excited about the prospect of completing a triathlon can often get discouraged or anxious about the open water swimming. Although swimming at your local pool will certainly help you develop the endurance and technique you will need to cross the distance, it may not prepare you for all the challenges you will face in the open water. From currents and varying weather conditions to swimming without a lane and in between other people, there are things which you simply cannot simulate in a normal swimming pool.

Whilst it can be difficult to find the opportunity to do so, if you do have the chance to practice open water swimming then you should definitely try it out or read more about how you can prepare for you first open water swim.

7.    Enlist the help of a private sports instructor

Knowing where to start when training for one discipline is already hard enough on its own - never mind three separate ones. It is therefore perfectly normal to feel somewhat unsure on how to tackle you first triathlon training. Whether it is figuring out how to plan out your sessions or which techniques to work on, a personal trainer can help you figure out all aspects of your triathlon training to find a schedule which fits your goals and fitness levels.

Going Swimmingly London offers a range of private lessons to help you prepare for your first triathlon. From dedicated swimming lessons to general fitness training, you can reach your goals faster under the supervision and advice of an expert teacher.