Advice For Running Your First Triathlon
My fiancé is big into activities. He loves to run, bike, swim, camp, adventure, and everything in between. I’ve always been a runner but you can scratch most the other activities from my list. But as I’ve got older I’ve been finding more and more passion into getting my heart rate up and doing new things in life. Last year Josh got into triathlons and if you or your significant other are into the sport then you know, it takes up A LOT of time. During his training I would see him for dinner time and a quick minute over coffee, but really not much in between. He’d swim in the morning before work, then go for a long run after work, and disappear for 8 hours on a Saturday to bike. I realized that if I wanted to spend time with him, I may want to give this sport a tri (PUN INTENDED, HA!)
Where I started:
SWIM Starting last December, I couldn’t swim. I could paddle enough to keep myself above the water but I couldn’t get from Point A to Point B with certainty. Josh gave me some very informative lessons and I realized how much I actually enjoyed the serenity of swimming. BIKE Biking was also a struggle from the start. I never really rode a bike growing up. I knew how to but it definitely wasn’t something I did well. Much less riding one in a competitive nature. I took up cycling and realized it was my favorite activity I’ve ever done. I quickly went out and bought my first bike and can disappear for hours on the trails and just love life. RUN I have basically been a runner my whole life. I ran track in middle school into high school, ran races all through high school for fun, and well into my 20s have always loved signing up for local 5k-10milers. So running was the 1/3 activity I felt at least semi confident in.
Advice To Start Training:
- Give Yourself Time – Don’t sign up with a months notice and think that you are going to win the race. I didn’t even sign up for my first tri until I had been swimming for about 6 months confidently and biking for 4.
- Have a Goal – I didn’t go in with a goal of winning the competition. My one goal was to finish proudly. I had never been in this situation before, I had never swam in open water before, I had never swam, biked, AND THEN ran, in one workout. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I knew if I finished that I would be proud of myself and that was enough for me for the first go around.
- Be Comfortable With Your Gear – Practice with the gear you are racing in. For example, if you don’t bike with cleats, don’t decide the morning of the race you are going to clip into your bike. It’s so much more comfortable to know exactly how to put things on, how you’re going to feel in your race, etc. So just purchase the gear you’re going to need ahead of time and practice with it.
- Sign Up For a Sprint – You don’t need to sign up for an Ironman as your first Tri (ahem, Josh!) I signed up for a Sprint which was 750m Swim, 14 mile bike, and a 5k run. To be completely honest, I will probably stick with that for a really long time.
- What To Wear – This kind of goes back to being comfortable with your gear. I had the most anxiety about what I should be wearing for the entire race. Josh was no help because he didn’t understand my worry about needing to have some sort of bra for the race. (shocker!) I went with a TYR Swim Top and Tri shorts because of the heat in NC September, and then threw on a bike top for after the swim. I saw some people wearing wetsuits because it was technically 1 degree below the temperature to allow them and that was crazy to me. I’ll probably eventually invest in a one piece tri suit, but really I felt comfortable in my top and shorts and when on mile 2 on the run I was hot AF, I unzipped my bike top and ran in my swim top like a sports bra. It worked out perfectly for the warmer weather of the afternoon.
- Have Fun! – If you aren’t doing this as a profession, then it’s for fun. Give yourself a break if you have an off day, and just give it your all the next time. I genuinely had a blast doing my first tri. (I may have cursed my way through the swim because of the rough waters, but that’s besides the point) The second I crossed the finish line I was ready to sign up for another!