I often get emails from people asking ‘How do I get started in triathlon?’. So I thought I’d write an article outlining the answers I usually give.
Firstly, I always start out congratulating the person on considering getting into triathlon! It is a fantastic sport that gives you an all-round athletic experience – especially when a thorough strength program is included. I then advise them that joining a triathlon club is a great place to start to gain insight, training tips, and support. I add that it’s great to have a coach, especially if you want to do well, but you can learn most of what is required through reading books, blogs, listening to podcasts, and following an online plan (like on TrainingPeaks) – that’s what I did when I started out.
Then I get more specific – I ask what their background and experience is. Often their answer is that they have a cycling or running background. It’s less common that they are coming from a pure swimming background. So I usually suggest they find a swim squad to join where they can get some expert advice on their stroke and also the enjoyment from joining others in the pool (the pool is often the most challenging aspect to do alone).
As far as riding goes, I suggest they find a group to ride with – it’s much more fun riding with others, especially if you are riding long distances. I also suggest that riding indoors using a smart trainer is a great way to train, as it is allow you to be more specific with your training and stay safe, especially in poor weather. People often ask me about the best bike to choose for triathlon. I usually suggest a normal road bike with clip-on aero bars (like these) when starting out. They are more comfortable for the beginner triathlete and more versatile. If they are very serious about doing well, then I recommend a triathlon-specific bike. Either way, I always recommend they get a proper bike fit. Not getting a proper bike fit is the biggest mistake many triathletes make (actually any rider). A bike fit is so important not only from an aerodynamic and comfort perspective, but also from a running perspective – a poorly fitting bike can seriously curtail your run performance!
As far as running goes, I recommend they first get a run analysis by a physio/podiatrist/sports physician, and a thorough strength assessment by an appropriate professional. This is important because the majority of injuries come from the running part of triathlon. It is the only weight bearing sport in triathlon. Getting your run technique and strength right at the start will save you a lot of time in the future by reducing injuries and will make you a better runner overall. I also add that you should start out conservatively and build very slowly, for the same reason. As a general rule, you should not increase your run volume (measured in duration) by more than 10% a week – for some people (e.g. those overweight) it should be lower.
There’s lots of other tips I could give, but I’ll leave it here and invite you to leave comments or ask further questions below.
By Stuart Harsley – Pushys Sponsored Athlete
Categories: Riding Tips