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> How to prepare for a triathlon?

How to prepare for a triathlon?

Publish date 27.10.2022

You can read it in 10 minut

How to prepare for a triathlon?

Have you been running for a while and felt it wasn’t enough for you? Many runners share your mood. Are you perhaps wondering what to do about it? I have a wonderful solution for you.

Triathlon

Have I piqued your interest? If so, read on. In this article, I will tell you how to prepare for a triathlon. There’s a lot of work ahead of you, but what one doesn’t do for one’s satisfaction and…that adrenaline thrill of preparation and the triathlon itself. 

Are you ready? …Ready, set, GO! 

What is a triathlon?

In short, triathlon is 3 disciplines – swimming, cycling, and running. Between each discipline you have to change your outfit – the time is still counting. This means that not only do you have to practice swimming, running and cycling, but also…. quick change of clothes. You may laugh now, but believe me during this run every second counts. 

Different types of triathlon – distance 

The three disciplines hide under different names. Choose the one that suits you best. I’ll start from the shortest to the longest (just so you don’t freak out 😉 ) 

  • Super Sprint –: 0,3m (0,4 km) swimming / 6,2m( 10 km) biking / 1,6m (2,5 km) running = 8,2m (12,9 km) 
  • Sprint –:  0,5m (0,75 km) swimming / 12,4m (20 km) biking / 3,1m (5 km) running = 16m (25,75 km)
  • Olympic –: 0,93m (1,5 km) pływanie / 24,8m (40 km) rower / 6,2m (10 km) bieg = 32,1m (51,5 km)
  • Half-Ironman –: 1,2m (1,9 km) swimming / 56m (90 km) biking / 13m (21 km) running = 70,2m (112,9 km)
  • Long triathlon –: 1,2m (1,9 km) swimming / 56m (90 km) biking / 13m (21 km) running = 70,2m (112,9 km)
  • International Triathlon Union (ITU) –: 2,5m (4 km) swimming / 75m (130 km) biking / 19m (30 km) running = 101,1m (164 km)
  • Ironman –: 2,4m (3,8 km) swimming / 112m (180 km) biking / 26m (42 km) running = 140,5m (225,8 km)
  • Ultraman Triathlon -: 6,3m (10 km) swimming/ 261m (421 km) biking/ 53,3m (84 km) running = 320,1m (515 km)

“How many kilometers? 515? It’s impossible!”

Probably now your eyes are popping out seeing these numbers. However, some daredevils take on this challenge. It is certainly not only a battle with your body and exhaustion, but also with yourself. 

How to train for a triathlon – chose your goal 

If you are thinking of starting a triathlon, then you should set a specific goal. In this case, this means choosing a specific distance. 

If you are just starting with a triathlon then it is advisable to focus on a super sprint. 

“Pff, I have a lot of strength and good condition. Why should I start with the shortest distance?”

Not because it’s the shortest. Choose it to test yourself. After all, you’ve never participated in such an event before, right? You will see what a real triathlon is like and how you handle the three disciplines. You can practice a lot beforehand, but nothing compares to real competition. 

After this, try a longer distance. Remember, however, that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Runners prepare for years e.g. an IronMan or Ultraman Triathlon.

Triathlon preparation – coach needed! 

How to start preparing for a triathlon? By looking for a coach. You’re probably thinking to yourself that you don’t need one and you can manage. 

“Running and cycling – easy. With swimming it can be different – here a coach can be useful.”

Let me tell you that with triathlon a coach is very necessary. He is the one who will arrange your training plan. It’s not that easy because to prepare well you need to have at least 2 swimming workouts, 2 cycling workouts, and 2 running workouts per week. In addition, it’s good to do body-strengthening workouts at the gym. Don’t forget about recovery!

So what do we have? About 8 workouts a week, body recovery, and… your duties: work, cleaning, cooking (after all, life goes on:)). 

As for recovery, you need to choose one day a week for it. Then get a good rest, sleep well and regenerate for the next day. Your coach will determine exactly when you will train in what sport and will tell you which day is best for rest. However, this is just the beginning… 

How to prepare for a triathlon? – Find “a triathlon buddy” 

You have already decided that you will participate in a triathlon. In this case, it’s a good idea to find yourself a person, or a group of people to train with. Go on social media – look for groups that bring together runners. 

Believe me, the more the merrier. Do you have a hard time? No motivation to train? A Group of your triathlon friends will surely help you. What’s more, you can watch each other’s backs during training. In a group, it is always safer to ride a bike, run on unfamiliar terrain or swim in a lake. 

What’s more, your colleagues can give you many valuable tips on the technique of doing exercises or performing workouts. They can also recommend you a good trainer. 

How to train for a triathlon? – SWIMMING 

Choose a place for your training

When it comes to swimming, you don’t have many options. You can choose a pool or a lake. 

In the case of a pool, choose one that is not the most popular. Avoid facilities close to schools and universities. Why? The answer is simple: lots of people. To prepare for a triathlon, you need to have one track to yourself so you can move around freely. 

Some people need to focus and have peace and quiet. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose the early hours or evening hours. This is when there is the best chance that the pool will be deserted. Before you buy a pass, ask the staff at which hours there are the fewest people. What’s more, you can also ask about a coach who can help you improve your swimming technique. 

You can also train outdoors in the lake. You must do it at least a few times to prepare well for a triathlon. During a triathlon, you won’t be swimming in a pool, but in an unfamiliar lake. You will learn orientation and overcome your fear of unfamiliar water.

Buy a neoprene wetsuit

If you want to keep yourself thermally comfortable during a triathlon, then buy a neoprene wetsuit. It will come in handy during the competition. It’s lightweight, clinging to your body, and it certainly won’t hinder your movements while swimming. You don’t have to always compete in it, but believe me, it will give you a lot of comfort when you are in the water. 

How to practice swimming for a triathlon?

  • First, learn how to swim. Not everyone can do it. Regardless of your age, you can learn it. Just staying afloat is already a good start. 
  • Swim the entire length of the pool – during this time, count how many swims it took you. The fewer swims, the more efficient you swim.  
  • Train in the pool for about 60 minutes at least twice a week

If you are preparing for a competition it is better to start your training from the pool. Only then move to open bodies of water.  

How to prepare for a triathlon? – BIKING 

What kind of bike to buy? 

I recommend you choose a triathlon bike or a road bike. These are models that are subordinate to aerodynamics. What does this mean? The geometry of the bikes is different from regular models. The handlebars are extended forward. This is used to keep the rider’s silhouette forward. 

This position gives you a streamlined body shape, so you can accelerate to high speeds. 

Biking – how to train for a triathlon? 

The biggest mistake most people make is the thought:

“I’ve been cycling since I was a kid. I don’t need training.”

Not true. In this case, you need to prepare well too. How?

  • Cycling workouts should last about 1 hour
  • During training, maintain an even pace.
  • An extra workout? Instead of taking a car, go shopping by bicycle. Remember to maintain an even and steady pace during your ride. 

Training is not just about riding. Learn how to quickly change a tube or inflate a wheel. Such skills will come in handy during the competition. Everything has an impact on which place you will finish and at what time. Therefore, have handy tools with you on the bike that may be necessary. 

How to prepare for a triathlon? – RUNNING 

I guess that you already know a bit about running. Since recreational running isn’t enough for you and you want to try yourself in a competition then surely you already have some experience. However, I have to tell you that running in a triathlon can be a little different from regular training. 

Why? As I’m guessing before running you don’t ride a bike? After many kilometers on two wheels at the beginning, it is difficult to adapt immediately to running. This is the reason why it’s a good idea to get on a bike before the run, ride a few kilometers, and immediately after getting dressed, set off on your way…this time on your feet. 

How to train for a triathlon when it comes to running?

  • Do interval training and running uphill in your workouts – the benefits? Change of pace, energy management, simple evasion of opponents. 
  • Train on different surfaces – e.g.concrete, asphalt, forest path. 

Triathlon – proper running shoes

  • Triathlon shoes wick away moisture, that is, sweat and water – it is best to choose shoes with little holes. 
  • Triathlon shoes with velcro. No, they will not fall off your feet, they are strong. What’s more, it’s better and faster to fasten the velcro than to tie the shoe.
  • The soft interior of the shoe – you can use them without socks. 
  • The shoes have an aerodynamic shape.
  • They do not have a tongue. 
  • They have rigid soles. 

Triathlon preparation – quick change of clothes 

I mentioned at the very beginning that it is also important to change clothes quickly. You need to be like a Flash (yes, that superhero) and change clothes at the speed of light ;). 

Get all your clothes ready. You can set yourself a stopwatch to see how long it takes you. Put on your neoprene wetsuit, take it off, and change your shoes. 

There are special changing areas along the route where you can do this. Moreover, remember to read the rules and regulations. You may be disqualified from the competition for improper behavior in the changing area! 

How to prepare for a triathlon – proper diet 

Diet is of great importance in the life of every triathlete. It is thanks to it that every runner has the energy to achieve new achievements and goals. Moreover, it is also responsible for the recovery of the body. In your diet, you should include carbohydrates, protein, as well as minerals, and vitamins. 

Eating before the start 

Before a triathlon, eat a meal that is moderate in protein, low in fat and fiber, and high in carbohydrates.  Also, choose carbohydrate drinks.

What can you eat? For example oatmeal or cereal. About 30 minutes before the start, have a light snack, an energy bar, banana, or yogurt. 

Eating during a triathlon 

To eat or not to eat? This is already up to you. If you need energy you can quickly eat a small energy bar or sports energy gel. You can skip this and take liquids alone, such as isotonic drinks. 

When is the best time during a triathlon to replenish energy? 

Do it when you are cycling. This is when the greatest energy intake occurs. During biking, you can have a quick snack and a drink. 

What should you remember before the triathlon?

There are some things you need to keep in mind before a triathlon. 

  • Prepare your outfit – see if you have all the outfits that you will need for the event. 
  • Read the description of the run and the route – this will familiarize you with the surroundings. If you’re close to these places then drive and see what the lake and the running and biking route are like; whether it has many climbs, descents, or is winding. Such things will come in handy, especially for training. You will know what to focus on. 
  • Read the rules and regulations – this is one of the most important things. Did you know that an inappropriate cap or removing your helmet at the wrong time can disqualify you? Rules vary, so read the regulations and don’t fall out of the competition through a silly mistake. 

Organize a triathlon…..by yourself

“Wait…I’m supposed to organize a triathlon by myself? What are you talking about?”

How can you best prepare for a triathlon? Go to the lake (be sure to take a neoprene wetsuit with you), then quickly change, jump on the bike, and then start running. Do your triathlon. 

It’s a good idea to take a friend with you then, who watches over the equipment and clothes you left behind. This will help you adapt to the conditions and change faster. This will help you a lot. 

Now you know how to prepare for a triathlon! It will not be easy, but I am sure that you can do it! Do not give up and achieve your goal. Who knows, the first triathlon will show you a new path and you will someday take part in IronMan? 🙂 

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