The sport of Triathlon is becoming more popular each year. If you have been to one, either as a participant or spectator, I am sure you were intoxicated by the energy. It is addicting!
We have put together some beginner triathlon information to introduce you to the basics and give you some insight into the sport.
What Exactly Is A Triathlon
Before we go too far, let’s go over what a Triathlon is, aside from an addicting race of badass’s (forgive the language, we are all adults here).
A Triathlon is a sports event with 3 different sports, swimming, cycling, and running. In that order for various lengths of time, without a break in between.
There are four basic lengths:
- Olympic Distance- swim of .93-miles (1.5-kilometers) bike of 24.8-miles (40-kilometers), run of 6.2-miles (10-kilometers).
- Sprint or “mini-triathlons” require a .5-mile swim, 15-mile (24-kilometer) bike, and a 3-mile (5-kilometer) run.
- Ironman Triathlon- the infamous Ironman often takes place in amazing locations around the world. This distance includes a 2.4-mile (3.9-kilometer) swim, a 112-mile (180-kilometer) bike ride, and a 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) marathon.
- Half Ironman- is just that with a 1.2-mile (1.93-kilometers) swim, 56 miles (90-kilometers) bike, and 13-miles (21-kilometers) run.
While most triathlons follow the swim, bike, run pattern, there are variations to open the sport to athletes of all ages and fitness capabilities.
For example, a Duathlon is a run, bike run for those who don’t want to swim, while an Aquathon combines swimming and running.
The sport is branching out in various places across the states. This growth includes Triathlons that feature running, mountain biking, and cross country skiing. While others have gone off-road and offer a swim, mountain biking, and trail running. (source USA TRIATHLON)
The 3 Principles Of Triathlon Training
Triathlon is all about planning, preparation, and execution. Much of it is a mind-game, so it is imperative that each individual knows themselves well, their strengths and weaknesses, and to create a training plan with both in mind.
- Planning- This is essential. You can’t wing this one. You need to plan everything from training for all three sports, to renting a wetsuit and learning the course ahead of time (if this is possible).
- Preparation- It is imperative that you prepare! Not only do you need to make sure you have the appropriate gear, but you also need to prepare your mind-set and practice proper technique.
- Execution- By planning and preparing well ahead of the Triathlon event, you have set yourself up for success. It is important that you stick with the process you have developed. It is often tempting to go against your plan because of the energy of competition. Be mindful of that and mentally prepare so you aren’t caught off guard.
It is important to know yourself, body, mind, and soul. Your process needs to have flexibility so you can alter your training on any given day based on how you are feeling.
Unfortunately, many triathletes are grossly overtraining. Over-trainers typically train hard all the time.
When I first started the sport of triathlon, I trained all the time and I trained HARD. No matter how I felt, it was hardcore training all the time, but my performance didn’t exactly get better. I was young, strong, and definitely overtraining.
That was 15 years ago, and boy was I doing it wrong. In fact, I took first place overall for the first time after I stopped training SO hard. Amazing right?
~ All coaches will tell you that you must learn how to go slow to go fast. – That is 100% truth.
Overtraining isn’t all that bad, but it will affect your recovery, and recovery is cra important. If you are doing multiple workouts with high intensity, excessive weight, and don’t take breaks, that is bad news, especially for competition. So how to know if you are overtraining?
- Being tired constantly, especially when you are doing normal daily activities.
- Loss of sex drive.
- No energy or motivation, nor enthusiasm for training.
- No appetite, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Menstrual irregularities.
- Lower performance, notably when racing.
- Constant sore muscles.
Just because you have a couple of these symptoms doesn’t mean you are overtraining. Simply be aware that this could become a problem and adjust accordingly. If your training is disrupting your relationships or your job, overtraining may be the culprit. (source: Training Peaks)
Rest Days Triathlon Training
Rest days are so important for your training. Without proper rest days, you are hindering your long-term improvement.
Recovery allows your body to better adapt to previous training, refill glycogen, and avoid burnout and overtraining.
Pay close attention to your heart rate. It is often an indicator that you need a rest day. If you notice that your heart rate starts higher than normal, it will not come down low enough after a hard effort, or that your resting heart rate is variable or higher than normal, you need to rest your body and let it do its thing. Lactic acid is your enemy.
Triathlon Mental Preparation
It is normal to be nervous about competing, but mental preparation will help you to go deep and finish your race. I use mindfulness, as well as mental imagery (taking myself to someplace in my mind as a distraction) to prepare mentally for race-day.
Don’t let the “race” freak you out. Think of it as another day, like a day to go out for recess to play with the other kids.
I want you to know that you are not the only one nervous about the competition. New athletes are naturally nervous. Don’t be intimidated by seasoned athletes, they are just as nervous as you are, trust me.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at how many people you see lined up at the porta potty. It is insane long. Many athletes get the pre-race jitters.
Help keep your nerves in check by being completely prepared so nothing catches you offguard.
Ignore Other Triathletes
I am not talking about being rude and giving everyone the cold shoulder. That isn’t nice. What I am talking about is ignoring them while racing.
It is so easy to get pumped up and try to follow the pack. Everyone is feeding off the energy, and even well-trained athletes have a hard time not feeding off this energy.
Start slow and stick to your plan! Your goal is likely very different from the athlete next to you.
If you allow others to influence how you perform on race day, or in training, you will have effectively slowed your results. An example is trying to keep up with the faster swimmer ahead of you, or speeding up because someone passed you. If you modify what you are supposed to be doing due to the influence they are having over you, you have given control over to them. You will burn out too fast, affecting your overall performance, not to mention it will increase your suffering immensely. As is the case with your mind, learning how to have self-control through your sport will give you strength in all aspects of your life.
How I Benefit From Being A Triathlete
I love training and participating in the Triathlon races. It gives me a routine that I need in everyday life. Having a routine helps you to be efficient and is important for your personal life, work life, and sport life. I cannot stress this point enough.
While routine is important, so is having the ability to go with the ebb and flow of life. You never know when life will throw you a curve ball, so being able to go with the flow is a skill that serves you well in life.
I also love to come together with other athletes in various stages in life. Even with social media, it seems we have forgotten how to come together with mother nature and connect with all our brothers and sisters.
Training for a Triathlon helps in all aspects of life. It helps you to get fit and eat the right kinds of foods, reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It helps get you outside in mother nature and connect with our planet and other athletes you come across.
It also increases “feel good” chemicals like your endorphins, helping to fight depression and anxiety.
We love to train for multiple sports. Even if you don’t participate in a Triathlon, that doesn’t mean you can’t train.
If you get bored with one activity, switch it out for another. The point isn’t to compete, the point is to get out of your comfort zone and get out in nature.
What goals have you set for yourself? Are you planning to participate in an organized Triathlon?
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Pretty please, with a cherry on top.
Much respect… live your dreams and don’t forget to always Tri-To-Fly!
Mental Health Advocate and Blogger. Runner. Hiker. Cycler. Anything Moving, and Everything Still. I believe in the power of the mind, the strength of the heart, and resilience of the Person. We all have the power to change…
Change your story, change your life.