A blog by runners. For runners.

Tips for your First Triathlon

We are interviewing an experienced triathlete for the TalkJogRun podcast next week. We often discuss marathons and other running races on the blog. I wanted to know tips that triathletes have for others looking to compete in their first triathlon. As I started asking the question, “what's your triathlon tip,” I was surprised about how much goes into the triathlon. One of the biggest points I noticed, is all the gear that goes into the triathlon. As a marathon runner, I don't need to remember as much gear before I head out the door! I still am definitely intrigued by the sport, and would love to compete in the race someday.

Do you have any triathlon tips? Comment on this blog with your best tip for someone looking to get started!


Reyna Franco:

Carbs are your friend when it comes to endurance sports. And the longer the race, the more fuel your body needs. But test out your fueling routine before your race. Otherwise, you may eat or drink something during the race which might give you stomach upset. The same goes for your pre-race dinner and breakfast. Test and try different fueling and hydration routines until you get the one that works best for you. Make note of the fluids they have on the course. If it is something you never tried, don't try it on race day. Instead, try it on a training day and see if you can tolerate it and how it makes you feel. Triathlons completed: 2 sprint triathlons and 1 Olympic distance. In training to do her first 70.3 this year.

Noel Lyons:

My biggest tip would be to practice transitions, as this will give you the most confidence to finish! By that I mean completing a swim session in training immediately followed by a bike or run. Also bricks: A bike followed immediately by a run session. Cycle to a track, do a run session, and cycle home. Practice getting out of a wetsuit quickly and throwing your sunglasses and helmet on. Jump on and off your bike, and in and out of your cycling shoes,
getting your trainers on your feet fast. All triathletes started out weak or weaker in at least one discipline, but when your transitions are smooth it won't show as much. Triathlons completed: over 100 Triathlons including 5 World Champs as a GB Age-Grouper and the Danish Ironman in 2001

Scott Leckey:

Start out with mini sprint distance events in a pool and work up in distance and to open water events gradually. Most triathletes will give pointers to beginners before and or after the race about transition and saving time – don't be afraid to ask! Always strive for more, do not settle. Set your goals just beyond your reach and continue to pursue them! Triathlons completed:18

Joe Vennare:

In the lead up to a race most people take the time to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the upcoming challenge. There is the initial excitement of signing up for the event, coordinating travel plans with friends, and last minute arrangements to ensure smooth travel and racing. The closer you get to race day the more anxious and nervous you become. Because races usually require travel to the venue and an early morning start it is important to plan ahead and get organized ahead of time. Here are some important things to consider that will help minimize stress and promote a successful performance.Don't wait until the last minute to pack and prepare for your event. Bring a change of clothes, towel, and toiletries for after the race. Have some extra cash on hand for food and merchandise. Enjoy the race and post-race activities. Bring a camera, or better yet persuade a friend/family member to make the trip to take pictures. Triathlons completed:12

Marissa Vicario:

My advice for women getting started in triathlons is to seek out a training group and a sprint distance triathlon near you. My first triathlon was a Danskin sprint distance triathlon. I found that doing a short distance, women-only race and training with a supportive group doing the same race was the best way to gain exposure to the sport and ease my way into it. It also helped me build confidence with the sport. Triathlons completed: 4

Kristy Petrillo:

For your very first triathlon, the goal should be to complete it rather than “race” it. Start with a sprint distance race, this particular distance tends to have more first timers and is much more doable for the average athlete. Treat it like a long workout and know going into it that you can complete each stage of the race because you've done it before in practice. Most first timers tend to get caught up in the excitement of the swim start and end up going out too hard. If it's your first time, don't line up front and center of the wave start for the swim. Instead go to the outside of the pack and remember to pace yourself. Being in the middle of the pack just means more flying feet and arms to contend with, which is not what you want on your first race. Pace yourself! Your heart rate will already by going a mile a minute, don't add to that stress by feeling you have to sprint the first 100 yards of the swim. Relax and settle into your own rhythm. You'll see that you'll start to pass people around the first buoy that have blown it out on the fist part of the swim.

Practice your transition before your first race. Set up your bike shoes, run shoes, bike, helmet, so you'll
know where they'll be and what layout will be most efficient in putting them on. Your mind will be whirling when you exit the water. Having practiced the transition will make you feel more comfortable come race day. Also remember to take note before the start of the race as to where your bike is at in relationship to where you exit the water, as well as where the bike in/out and run in/out are located. Avoid the need to bring the entire content of your gym bag to transition. Only bring the basics and leave the rest of your items off to the side.

When on the bike, be courteous of more experienced triathletes and remember to stay to the right. Keep your bike in a low gear going up hills and SPIN your legs, then make it up on the downhills. Pace yourself on the run. Just like the swim, you don't want to blow it out in the first mile. Settle into a comfortable pace, relax, and take in the sights around you. Above all, remember to have fun! The triathlon is a fun sport with great camaraderie among participants. Savor the moment when you cross the finish line, smile and know you earned it! Triathlons completed: 25+, 4 Ironman 70.3 Races

Jerry Akin:

You know you're going to swim, bike and run and have practiced each to get to the starting point.
Practice the points in between…the transitions from swim to bike (T1) and from bike to run (T2). Know what order you are going to put your shoes, race bib, sunglasses, etc; it'll make it a lot easier (i.e. less to think about if you have a plan, otherwise you'll probably forget something. Speaking of which on one of my earliest triathlons I forgot where I parked my bike and probably spent 10 minutes looking for it. Practice laying out your clothes at the bike rack, where the shoes go, the towel, the helmet, everything! Practice smiling a lot, you only get to do your first triathlon once. enjoy! Triathlons completed: 35-40, 4 Ironman Races

Richard Chackman:

As far as training goes, it is important to develop an aerobic
base in swimming, biking and running. The key components of a successful
triathlete are endurance, speed, strength, flexibility and skills in
swimming, biking and running. For beginners, I would suggest following a
training plan. Understand the challenge of the race – at some point you will hit a wall
of pain in any triathlon distance. Keep fighting and things will get better. Keep moving forward – breaststroke, doggy paddle, walk, jog, crawl,
whatever…just keep moving forward toward that finish line! Triathlons completed: 17, and one Iron-distance race at HITS Naples