Beginner Triathlon Training: Everything You Need to Know Before Your First Triathlon

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Looking to sign up for your first triathlon ? We share everything you need to know about founder triathlon train and racing—from gear essentials and nutrition basics to mental homework and tips for hiring a coach—to avail you have a successful first triathlon .
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What Are Your Beginner Triathlon Training and Racing Goals?

As depart of your presentation to the sport, consider why you ’ re taking up triathlon to begin with and what you hope to gain from the novice triathlon training experience. Are you motivated strictly by the desire to have fun and expand your social circle ? Are you looking for a fitness kick in the pants to battle the bulge of in-between age ? Were you inspired by media coverage of a apparently impossible pursuit ? Are you an acrobatic type already, aiming to be a serious rival ? Whatever your reasons at the start, formulating your goals and priorities will help you plan a race season better suited to your desires and strengths.

As you peruse raceway calendars looking for winder events, consider a number of variables and options. local anesthetic races are probable to be packed with friends and family for those who thrive on race-day hold, while finish travel races can be a unique and fantastic way to explore alien lands and cultures, albeit slightly outside your comfort zone. besides take into account factors such as altitude ( can you tolerate oxygen loss, or are you better off at ocean tied ? ), weather ( will you perform best in hot or cool temperatures, and in a dry or humid climate ? ) and the course itself ( do you prefer an ocean or fresh-water swimming, and a cragged or flat course ? ). Calculate how much time you can allot to education and rush, and be proactive in communicating your plans with your spouse or family. Involving those closest to you in your newfound sport and being honest about the anticipated time committedness will go a long way toward avoiding issues of tension and resentment that can develop if an athlete ’ second concenter on triathlon train becomes obsessional .
RELATED: Now Is the Time to Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

The Beginner Triathlon Training Gear You’ll Need

Part of beginner triathlon training is putting together the right gear.
While triathlon rush and triathlon discipline does require a batch of gear, it doesn ’ t have to break the bank—especially when you ’ re beginning getting started. Chances are, until you have a solid temper or two of triathlon training and racing under your swath, you credibly won ’ thyroxine know what top-end gear best suits your wants and needs anyhow. Start on the economical end with second-hand items, then upgrade as your ability and have demands. Craigslist, eBay and even your local motorcycle patronize can be great resources for gently used equipment, as are classify boards or forums on your local tri baseball club ’ s web site. Or, post what you ’ ra looking for via social media and possibly you ’ ll prompt another athlete to upgrade their own beloved motorcycle or wetsuit, allowing you the benefit of a well-cared-for hand-me-down. Look for end-of-model-year sales on bikes if you ’ ra captive on buying new .

For The Swim

Your race kit ( either exceed and bottom or one-piece ) is the kit you ’ ll wear throughout the swimming, bicycle and run—it ’ s specifically designed for triathlon because it ’ randomness made of a material that will dry promptly after the float, and has a built-in chamois that will make the bicycle ride more comfortable but international relations and security network ’ thyroxine dense enough to make you feel like you ’ re wearing a diaper on the run. Choose something snug-fitting ( it will stretch when wet ) with ample rise pockets to hold department of energy gels and any other race-essential items ( for example, a rescue inhaler if you are asthmatic ). Beware of any irritating seams that can lead to afflictive chafing during a raceway. If you plan on competing anywhere besides the tropics, a triathlon-specific wetsuit (find our picks for for men and women), designed for swimming mobility and irrepressibility, is fundamental. ideally, take a test swim at a demonstration event to truly get a feel for how the suit fits in the water—it ’ s guaranteed to feel besides rigorous on dry land. A pair of goggles that perfectly seal to your confront ( test the seal in-store before you buy ) is the only other swimming must-have .

For The Bike

A bike is likely the individual largest triathlon buy you ’ ll ever make. Focus more on quilt and fit as opposed to aerodynamics as a novice triathlete to guarantee you enjoy the drive. Start with Retül ’ second Frame Finder technology ( ) to determine the ideal model and size for you, then search for it second-hand. Never mount your motorcycle without a helmet, needed guard gear for any race. Sunglasses are besides imperative to keep your eyes safe from flying insects and road debris. If you want to make minor upgrades, the next steps might be a new saddle, which can fine-tune the comfort level of closely any steed or bike shoes and cleats with corresponding pedals, which will connect you further to your bicycle and give you the benefit of the up share of the pedal stroke .
Good to know
As part of your founder triathlon training, consider it mandate to master basic bicycle sustenance skills such as changing a flat run down and minor derailleur adjustments. many cycling retailers or community education programs offer bicycle maintenance classes, providing an invaluable and simple-to-learn skill set to keep you from being stranded during train or a slipstream .

For the run:

Run shoes are your only extra necessitate for triathlon ’ s final leg—the lapp ones you ’ vitamin d sport for any 10K. A bare, cheap upgrade that will keep your tri kit out free of safety fall holes is a race belt to hold your act .
Good to know
While a triathlon-specific ( TT ) motorcycle or clip-on aerobars are not essential from the beginning, you ’ ll come to appreciate them over prison term. Set your bicycle up on a stationary trainer before you hit the open road, allowing you to rehearse getting comfortable in the aero position and clip in and out of your pedals to avoid the fear “ turtle ” tip-over .
RELATED: The Best Beginner Triathlon Bikes

Beginner Triathlon Training Recovery Rules

As part of beginner triathlon training, don't neglect recovery!
recovery is american samoa critical a component of triathlon prepare as swim, cycle and run. “ I like to view convalescence as a character of your discipline program. It shouldn ’ metric ton be an reconsideration, but a catalyst to help you maximize the give way from the hard work you put into discipline, ” said Matt Dixon, founder and head coach of Purplepatch Fitness. “ No topic how heavily you train, you will not arrive to slipstream day prepared to excel without by rights integrated recovery. ” Dixon explains that recovery is not adenine dim-witted as lying on the couch or taking a day off from exercise. He groups recovery into three main areas, the first gear being a coach plan designed with frequent days of lower-intensity sessions to help your body regenerate and be prepared for the key coach sessions that allow bad fitness gains. The second sphere of recovery involves an athlete ’ mho life style choices, with an vehemence on plenty of sleep and quality nutrition. The final part of recovery includes modalities such as compression, massage, and stretching. “ I would not pay besides much attention to these, ” said Dixon, as their importance pales in comparison to the first two areas. “ Get the first two correct and you will find great consistency in education, experience less fatigue accumulation, and be at much lower hazard of injury. not only will you be fit, you will besides be prepared. ”
RELATED: A World Champion’s Top 5 Recovery Tricks for Athletes

The mental game

Mental training is part of being a successful triathlete.
The mental aspect to endurance sports can make or break your raceway day. Wrap your head around having a plus attitude correct from the start, careless of the end result. In world, races rarely go 100 percentage to design, so it ’ s important to keep in mind that each race is a stepping stone. The travel is what triathlon train and rush is truly all about—the daily personal challenges and milestones, the people you meet and the lessons learned along the means. And better physical fitness and ace slipstream performances don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate hurt either .
RELATED: Motivation Is the Most Important Mental ‘Muscle’ in Triathlon

Beginner Triathlon Fueling 101

An athlete takes in hydration as part of his beginner triathlon training.
For survival athletes, nutrition is equally authoritative both on and off the rush course .

Racing and Training:

A triathlon should not be raced on water system alone ! Eating and hydrating by rights is all-important to sustain quality train and to ensure fuel in your tank on rush day, advised Magdalena Boulet, frailty president of the united states of invention, research, and development at GU Energy Labs ( and an Olympic marathoner ). “ For trail sessions longer than 60 minutes, drill fuel and hydrate by taking in 200-300 calories per hour to deliver energy and delay sleep together, ” Boulet said. “ The summation of branched chain amino acids can help reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle price. small amounts of caffeine can enhance performance by increasing focus and decreasing perceived effort during exercise. ” As a general rule, Boulet recommends taking one to two 100-calorie gels per hour with water, ampere well as consuming a 21-ounce bottle of sports drink to maintain ideal hydration condition. Within 30 minutes of completing a education seance or subspecies, focusing on reparation and restoration is imperative. “ Consume a recovery drink with a quality protein source that will help to inhibit muscle tissue breakdown and encourage muscle weave build-up, angstrom well as carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores. This is critical to being able to start your adjacent aim session rejuvenated and in a recovered express, ” Boulet said .
On race day, you ’ ll have the option to use nutrition products supplied on course or to carry your own—in water system bottles or a bento box on the motorcycle and in a hydration belt, hand-held bottle or your tri kit ’ s pockets on the run. In general, the more fluid a fuel beginning ( think carbohydrate drinks or energy gels ), the easier it will be to digest on the go and at raceway pace. Energy chews provide another easily digestible alternative for people turned off by the texture of energy mousse. ultimately, there ’ s a highly individual element to sports nutrition dependent on what works best with your own body chemistry, digestive arrangement and sample buds, so trial and error in training is crucial. “ not one recipe fits all, so calibrate your own ideal fueling protocol, ” suggested Boulet .


Kim Schwabenbauer, a cross-file dietician, stresses the importance of proper nutrition 24/7 to support an athletic life style. “ The body can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be expected to perform at its acme day in and day out without proper hydration and nutrition, ” Schwabenbauer said. “ full nutritional choices involve premeditation, plan, and preparation, merely like preparing your gymnasium bag or equipment before a big day of training. ” Her expert advice for fueling right ? “ Shop the perimeter of the grocery memory for minimally processed food, learn elementary cook preparations that retain nutrients without adding extra saturated fats such as steam, broil, baking or grilling, pay attention to your fluid and food inhalation in relation to how you feel throughout the day, and after workouts of an hour or more in length, make certain to consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein such as chocolate milk, a insignificant butter and gelatin sandwich or protein and yield smoothie. ”

Schwabenbauer recommended eating lean protein throughout the day, such as eggs or greek yogurt for breakfast, nitrate-free delicatessen meats, tuna or hummus at lunch and lean beef, turkey, wimp or bean curd and beans for dinner. Carbohydrates—the No. 1 fuel source for survival athletes—should make up a quarter of your plate at each meal ( think whole-grain boodle, grain, oatmeal, angry rice, quinoa, barley or whole-grain pasta ). Include healthy fats for repletion such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, olives or peanut butter, and calculate for four servings each of fruits and vegetables plus lowfat dairy to round out a high-quality nutrition plan. “ Athletes should include 50–60 percentage of their sum dietary intake as carbohydrates, 15–20 percentage as protein and 20–35 percentage as fatty depending on the fourth dimension of class, preferable choices and their phase of aim, ” Schwabenbauer said. “ Focus less on the quantity of food you are eating and more on the quality of your food. If the quality improves, the content will adjust consequently and you ’ ll consume more antioxidants, feel broad and have more energy, which all supports your ability to swim, motorcycle, run and be healthy ! ”
RELATED – Ask Stacy: How Should I Approach Nutrition For My First Triathlon?

Do you need a coach?

Having a coach can be helpful for triathletes at every level.
Hiring a triathlon coach is an incredible benefit for those who can afford it, specially as you take on founder triathlon train. ( monthly fees vary widely depending on the horizontal surface of coaching and know level, but are typically $ 100+ per calendar month ). The upsides to having a coach are numerous, including individualized triathlon train plans, operation psychoanalysis, feedback, boost and—perhaps most importantly—advice on when to back off and how to adjust for bumps in the road such as wound, illness or unanticipated scheduling conflicts. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate despair if you can ’ metric ton yield a coach, however. You ’ ll reap similar ( if not quite as individualized ) defend and advice from clubs, teams, group prepare programs, mentors and person train partners. There ’ sulfur besides a wealth of triathlon train and racing information available on-line, in books or in magazines ( look for an extensive archive of workouts and advice at ). Consider splurging on a training camp ( a long weekend or a full week in an endurance-oriented venue ) as a great means to kick-start your season, arsenic well as to meet modern friends and training partners. You may even find that the technical leading the camp is person you ’ ll want to hire as a one-on-one coach down the road .
RELATED: How to Find the Right Triathlon Coach for You

Beginner Triathlon Training Transition Talk

Take these tips and be certain to use them in your novice triathlon train !
1. Begin removing your wetsuit as you ’ re exiting the swimming, pulling it down to your waist while you ’ ra ladder. Pull off your detonator and goggles, but be certain not to drop them for risk of a gear abandonment penalty .
2. When you arrive at your motorcycle, remove the remainder of your wetsuit, put on your helmet and glasses, then your motorcycle shoes ( depending on your comfort level with the flying saddle horse, your bicycle shoes may already be clipped into your pedals ). Don ’ metric ton forget your subspecies number belt out if the rush requires you to wear it for the bicycle branch ( check the athlete information packet for this rule ) .
3. Get on your bicycle at the designate mount line, or perform a flying mount if you ’ ve practiced this helpful passage skill .
4. Coming into T2, dismount at the delegate line and run with your bicycle to your transition position ( rehearse your path in and out of both transitions before the subspecies ). Leave your helmet strapped until you have racked your bicycle. Quickly swap your shoes, and grab your race belt, hat and any necessary nutriment, and run knocked out of T2 while you are putting on your race belt and stashing your nutrition into your pockets .

Transition Bag Checklist

Race Leg Gear
PRE-RACE/SWIM Race kit (aka triathlon suit)
Swim cap (usually provided by the race)
Goggles (bring tinted goggles for sunny conditions, and it’s a good idea to have an extra pair in your bag)
Timing chip and strap
Skin lubricant, such as Body Glide (slather any spot that might be irritated by a seam or by skin-on-skin rubbing)
Warm-up clothes
Pre-race nutrition
Latex or light cotton gloves (prevents micro-tears when pulling on your wetsuit from fingernails or too-hard pulling)
Plastic bags or old socks (put on your foot to help pull your wetsuit on)
Lip balm
T1/BIKE Small towel (helpful to dry off feet)
Bike shoes
Bike helmet
Water bottle with sports drink or water, plus any other on-the-bike nutrition
Flat kit (on bike)
T2/RUN Race belt and bib
Run shoes
Elastic shoelaces (to save time by not tying your shoes)
Socks (if wearing)
Hat or visor
POST-RACE Protein-rich snack
Dry clothes and flip-flops

Athletes dive in after completing their beginner triathlon training program.Athletes dive in to a sprint triathlon after completing their beginner triathlon training program. Photo: Getty Images photograph : Getty Images

Triathlon Distances

For most people, “ triathlon ” and “ that rush in Hawaii ” are synonymous–many have seen glimpses of the annual broadcast of the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, which can give viewers the depression that the mutant is a very hanker, very grueling day of swim, bicycle, and run. But Ironman is entirely one of many race distances within the sport of triathlon. From the extremely sprint to the extremist distance, there ’ s a triathlon outdistance for everyone. We recommend starting with a super dash, dash, or Olympic and then working your way up if that ’ s your desire. Remember : you don ’ t have to go long to be a competitive triathlete .
( note : distances can vary, specially in shorter races )

Super Sprint

Discipline Distance
Swim 500 meters (.3 mile)
Bike 10K (6.2 miles)
Run 2.5K (1.6 miles)

How much time will I need to train for a super sprint triathlon?
3-4 hours per week
Super Sprint Training Plan: Tackle Your First Triathlon


Discipline Distance
Swim 750 meters (.46 mile)
Bike 20K (12.4 miles)
Run 5K (3.1 miles)

How much time will I need to train for a sprint triathlon?
3-5 hours per workweek
Sprint Training Plan: Eight Weeks to Your First Sprint Triathlon


Discipline Distance
Swim 1.5K (.93 mile)
Bike 40K (24.8 miles)
Run 10K (6.2 miles)

How much time will I need to train for an Olympic triathlon?
5-7 hours per week
Olympic Training Plan: Rock Your First Olympic Triathlon


Discipline Distance
Swim 1.93K (1.2 miles)
Bike 90K (56 miles)
Run 21K (13.1 miles)

8-13 hours per week
Half Iron Training Plan: 20 Week Training Plan for Your inaugural 70.3


Discipline Distance
Swim 3.9K (2.4 miles)
Bike 180K (112 miles)
Run 42.2K (26.2 miles)

Some Parting Advice for Beginner Triathletes

To close out this novice triathlon training advice, we ’ ll refer to a popular article from Triathlete  subscriber Meredith Atwood.

One of the most common questions I am asked is: “What is your best advice for me—a newbie triathlete?” To which I usually respond, “When I started the sport, I was the size of a small whale. This irony was not lost on me when the best wetsuit for me was, in fact, an Orca brand wetsuit. In that wonderful moment, I learned to never take myself too seriously. That’s my best advice—never take yourself too seriously. We do this sport for fun. Very few of us are actually feeding our families via swim, bike and run.”  ( Read the rest of her article here. )
therefore pick a race, have a plan, and then get cook to have some playfulness. Welcome to the best sport ever !
RELATED: Fitter & Faster Podcast: The Beginners’ Guide to Triathlon
This article was written by Holly Bennett, with contributions from the Triathlete editors .

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