Training for a triathlon – sounds like a daunting idea yes? Well, no!
The mistake most people make is that they look at the bigger picture. If you are just venturing off your couch and the thought of swim-bike-run seems a little too impossible – then think again.
Break your challenge down into small chunks with a structured triathlon training programme. Start by deciding on a target race. Then work out how many weeks you have.
Essential equipment you will need:
• Bike – doesn’t matter what kind
• Swim suit / trunks (assuming it is a pool based triathlon you will not need a wet suit)
• Swim hat (if you are doing a pool based swim they will lend you one usually)
• Running shoes
• Shorts and top for the bike / run elements of the race. These can be the same for both
That’s it. Anything more and you are getting competitive – which is of course, entirely your choice!
Start with one swim, one bike, and one run a week.
Keep it simple. Set yourself a bench mark starting target and build it up gradually week by week. If you added 2 lengths of a 25m pool a week, you would barely notice the incremental increase, as you get fitter and fitter! If you want some swim specific training sets, you will find some on my web site www.melanieryding.com.
You do not have to do freestyle, many people think you do. You simply need to cover 400m, which is 16 lengths of a 25 metre pool. I was still learning to swim when I did my first triathlon, and did the swim breast stroke. It’s ok to do that.
Here is where you can make fitness gains, save money and time all at once! Start off with a cheap mountain bike, there is no point splashing out money on this if you don’t know if you will keep it up now, is there!!? My first bike (which I still have for cycling to the shop etc) was £80 from Halfords. A plain basic mountain bike. Heavy, yes, but think of the extra resistance training gains you will get!
Start off with a couple of miles, and then build up from there. You WILL need to wear a helmet, that is law in triathlon (not to mention common sense!) always be prepared for the weather, take water with you, and some tools to fix a flat if you get one. Always tell someone your route, and carry ID / phone with you for emergencies. I cannot tell you how important that is. I had a cycling accident last year, where I was found unconscious on the road by a motorist. It was only because I carry my phone (not keypad locked) with the number ICE saved in favourites (In Case of Emergencies) that the police called it and were able to work out who I was.
Use quiet country routes where possible, and if you have to use busy roads, wear hi vis. 12 miles is your target, so start with three to four and build it up by a mile or two a week. In 8 weeks you will be covering 12 miles. Simple!
The run can start from as short as you like – my first target was to be able to run for 5 minutes without collapsing! If you adopt the run-walk strategy, running a pre-decided amount of time, let’s say 3 minutes, then walk 2, and repeat. As you get fitter lengthen the run and keep the walk the same. As you progress, shorten the walk break, till eventually you are running non-stop!
Don’t add on more than let’s say 5 minutes of running a week, if you are just starting out. You only need to manage 3 miles for a pool based sprint triathlon. That’s not far, you will get to that distance in no time!
The brick session
As you get closer to your target race date, you will want to practice running after cycling. Trust me, it DOES get easier! After a bike ride, stick on the run shoes in the hall and run off down the street for 5 to ten minutes, that is all it will take. It will feel very odd at first, but your legs do get used to it. (and so do your neighbours!) Read more about brick sessions.
Any other questions about your triathlon training schedule? I bet you have hundreds!! I covered them all off in an article called ‘Beginner triathlon tips’ which you will find in the training section of my web site.
Still got more questions after that? Then contact me! email@example.com or post here and I will reply.
Enjoy, and happy training!