What you need to know before your first triathlon - Women's Running

Try A Triathlon

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  June 24, 2017

More and more women are running, and more and more women are taking their running to new heights. Adding in obstacles, ultra distances, or in the case of triathlon, adding in two extra sports, swimming and cycling.

Like running, there are a variety of distances you can pick from in the world of triathlon, including on and off-road running and cycling, and swimming in pools, lakes and rough seas!

Beginners start with sprints made up of a 400 to 750m swim, a 15 to 25k bike and a 5k run, and in recent times, super sprints, with a 400m swim, a 10k bike ride and a 2.5k run. Beginners’ triathlons are usually pool-based as opposed to open water. And many start triathlon as part of a relay team, focusing on one sport.

The next stage is the Olympic triathlon – a 1.5k swim, a 40k bike ride and a 10k run, and the race continues in increasing increments to Ironman – 3.8k swim, a 180k bike and a marathon.

Covering three sports means that triathlon really does cover all fitness bases, with cardiovascular benefits from all three, and extras such as strength from the bike, and flexibility and upper body strength from swimming. It is the ultimate cross training event. And if you’re trying to lose weight, a good option if you combine your training with some resistance work too.

Get the Gear

The basics include a swimming costume or tri suit with padding; pull bouy, float and other training aids; wetsuit for open water; goggles; hat; race number belt; running kit and shoes (easy tie laces); bike (can use a mountain bike for your first race but you may wish to switch to thinner tyres); helmet; and cycling shoes (optional).

Putting together your training

For beginners, coming from a running background, on a three times a week schedule, you’ll now run for one session, swim for one, and get out on the bike for the third session. To get the best out of your training, try to introduce some speed work into your running every third week, include drills in your swimming – i.e. break down the stroke so you work legs only using a float, and arms only using a pull bouy – and for your bike keep adding on extra time/distance and every three to four weeks cycle over hilly terrain.

After four weeks try a ‘brick’ session where you do each discipline, as you will on race day. You can start off with two, for example, a run and bike ride, but aim to fit in one session with all three at least once in the build up.

Find out more

• Join a triathlon club http://www.britishtriathlon.org/clubs/index.php, or find a Personal Trainer who specialises in the sport for extra, specialist coaching.
• Check out the London Triathlon website for information about the weekend’s racing and for entry to the event in 2015.

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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