We’ve talked a bit before about gear for the beginner triathlete, but we’ve never really explored what you need to prepare yourself for your first triathlon. Whether you’re brand new to triathlon, transitioning from another endurance sport, or a triathlon veteran there is always good information to be gained from learning the basics of a triathlon. The following is everything you will need to conquer your first triathlon!
Obviously in order to do your first triathlon you will need to find a triathlon to do. I highly encourage new triathletes to do a sprint triathlon as their first. Sprint triathlons usually consist of a 500-750 meter swim, a 8-15 mile bike, and usually a 5k (3.1 mile) run and are perfect for someone new triathlon. If you insist on doing a longer distance than a sprint, I would encourage you to seek help with your training via a coach or local triathlon club and ensure you can handle that distance.
Many newbie’s to triathlon have no idea how to properly train for a triathlon. When I first started I had no idea how to train in any of the 3 disciplines, let any all 3 combined. While I don’t recommend trying to set world records in your first race, it’s important to devoted several weeks of triathlon training so you do well in your first race. I highly recommend all individuals find a friend or coach whom is knowledgeable about triathlon and can help you properly train. Also pre-made plans although they aren’t very specific, they are a great way to get started in triathlon.
Swim: Swim equipment is fairly simple when doing your first triathlon. All you need is goggles and a swimsuit. Although for some races you may need a wetsuit if the swim is in the open water, if this is the case I recommend renting one. If possible try to find a triathlon with a pool swim as your first, this eases the transition to an open water triathlon.
Bike: Don’t let not having a bike stop you from doing a triathlon! Borrow a bike from a friend or consider purchasing a road bike for your first triathlon. While there are bikes specifically designed for triathlon I don’t recommend new comers purchase them as their first bike for competition. Road bikes are much more comfortable and easy to handle, additionally if it turns out you don’t like triathlon you can try group cycling.
You will also need to get a helmet and a bike water bottle. Again I recommend saving the fancy stuff like cycling shoes and aero-helmets later as your progress as a triathlete.
Run: All you need is some running shoes!
Don’t worry about fancy gear for your first triathlon, I would even courage you to change clothes in transition from the swim to bike to avoid buying a triathlon specific outfit.
When entering your first triathlon you need to plan for success. Practice what you will eat before and during the race in your training. Create a race plan based on your training to control your pacing. Plan each training session to you and your goal of completing your first to triathlon. As I always say, if you don’t have a plan, plan to fail.
THE ABILITY TO HAVE FUN:
Of all the advice above this is by far the most important. Remember when you’re training and racing your first triathlon to have fun. Don’t worry about your finish time or the gear you have. Simply show up, race as you planned, and see how you liked it. If you enjoyed it, then get serious with your training and racing next race!