Ben Farnsworth 2 Sep 2021 6 min read

10 Tips to Ace Your First Triathlon

Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world!  People everywhere are becoming triathletes for a variety of reasons: enhanced self-esteem, an end goal to make exercise and fitness more worthwhile, feelings of accomplishment, and group camaraderie. Because of the three-sport format, there are often three times as many questions and three times as much advice on the “best” ways to do one.

Below are a few tips sure to help both seasoned and novice triathletes embrace the multi-sport lifestyle.

 

1. It has to be about you

Covid has given the population another reminder that being healthy is good for mental and physical well being and the phrase “Try a Tri” is as important as ever! Challenging yourself in a new endeavor has to be about you because you are the one doing it. You are the one putting your body through intentional discomfort for something to fulfill your mind, soul, and body. And that’s a pretty great thing.

 

2. Just sign up (preferably with a friend)

You are much more likely to stop procrastinating and actually get around to training for a race and doing one if you are already signed up. And even though it is all about you (see point 1) doing a race with a friend will not only be more fun, it will also keep you accountable as you train, by giving you a training partner.

 

3. Stay consistent

I know most people don’t have the time to do 20 hours of training per week, but actually, the same principles apply no matter how much time you have for training. You want to do the most you can sustainably do week in week out while remaining consistent. That means 6 hours a week, every week for 6 months around work and family life is far better than 10 hours one week and 2 the next.

 

4. Stick with it

In order to improve you need to complete your training sessions, when you’re tired from work or looking after the kids it’s easy to skip a session but you’ll always feel 100 times better on days when you forced yourself out of the door. So try not to pull out of any sessions. 

 

5. Bring a cheering squad

Get friends and family involved in your training. They don’t have to be up for joining you in a 5km run – they can cycle alongside you/ meet you at the end with a nice refreshing drink. And of course, invite friends and family to your race, and have them bring signs and noisemakers. Plot out good places for them to watch ahead of time, so you’ll know where to expect them. Their cheers are a great motivator when you’re starting to drag.

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6. Be familiar with your tech

Due to the fact that there are 3 disciplines, there is a lot of equipment needed for a triathlon. It is tempting to invest in all the new gadgets on the market but coming up to your first triathlon only use equipment you are familiar with and that you have used many times before. Otherwise, this will just add to your nerves on race day.

 

7. Remember that swimming is a small part of the entire race

Many would-be triathletes are turned off by the swim portion, thinking it’s too difficult and they’ll never finish the rest of the race. The bike and run portions are much longer than the swim. At first, just train enough to make it through the swim safely, then focus on the bike and run. As you race more, you can then start to work on making your swimming faster and more efficient.

 

8. Practice swimming in open water

Open water swimming is extremely different from swimming in a pool—the water can be murky, the are no pool walls to push off, and you need to work on sighting so you don’t swim off course. Get into a lake beforehand to work on swimming. Also, work on your outdoor swimming at the same time of day that your race will be, so you can see what the sun's glare might be like at that time.

 

9. Don’t buy the most expensive/shiny gear

Triathlon can be an expensive sport, three different sports in one, race entries, and exotic races locations… the cost of doing triathlon can add up.  Buying an expensive bike or the latest carbon plated shoes is no alternative to getting the training done.  You’ll see people on race day with a bike that is more expensive than some cars but if they haven’t done the training they won’t make it to the finish line.

 

10. Follow a training plan

Plan on training at least eight weeks for your race, and work in some days for speed, intervals, technique, strength, and flexibility. Work your weak discipline more than your stronger one, and make sure to plan some brick workouts.

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Keep telling yourself that 95% of training that you do is fun – you’ve got to enjoy it because it makes it far far easier.  Come and join the newly launched UFIT Triathlon Squad where the training is structured but most importantly train with other like-minded and fun individuals!

UFIT Endurance

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Ben Farnsworth

Head Coach of UFIT Endurance