Jeremy Arguelles, NSCA-CPT
Training for a triathlon can be intimidating for anyone new to the event. Combining swimming, cycling and running, triathlons require a special level of dedication that other races don’t. That said, whether you’re a fitness fanatic or just getting started with working out, these events are a great way to renew your competitive spirit and motivation for exercising. Plus, triathlons are a lot of fun!
For those looking for triathlon training advice and workout ideas, here are some tips to get you started.
Start off Easy
Even if you consider yourself to be in good shape, approach your training regimen for this unique race slowly. To begin with, set some basic, attainable goals such as training a set number of hours a week or increasing the difficulty of each workout by small amounts.
Work Hard, but Don’t Overtrain
For those new to triathlons, it’s important to stay attuned to your body. You can safely regulate your progress by:
- Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night
- Making sure to stay hydrated
- Eating the correct amount of high-quality carbohydrates and protein an hour before and after working out
- Going at your own pace instead of someone else’s. Don’t base your workout on what someone else at a different fitness level is doing. Instead, track your own pace and try to improve from there.
Focus on (Safe) Swim Training
Mastering the art of swimming laps is a vital part of triathlon training. A large pool will do, but swimming in natural bodies of water — such as a clean freshwater lake or a regulated ocean area — is even better. Anytime you can train in the same environment as the race, take advantage of it! If possible, swim with others, particularly in open bodies of water.
Whether outdoors or inside, the most difficult part of swimming is perfecting your breathing and stroke or kick rhythm. Most trainers recommend taking three strokes before a breath, although you can take two or four strokes instead. After completing your strokes, make sure to roll to the side and inhale as much oxygen as you can. When your head is in the water, slowly exhale the carbon dioxide that’s building up.
A few tips on designing your swim workouts:
- Always warm up properly.
- Know the pace you want to maintain and stick to it.
- Stay relaxed and keep your rhythm and form consistent. If you feel yourself flailing or splashing, slow your pace until you’re able to get your form and breathing under control.
Invest in a Good Bike for Cycling Training
Triathlon veterans understand that having a good-quality bike helps immensely. An unsuitable bike creates too much drag and can deter your ability to train well. At the same time, there’s no reason to spend thousands of dollars on new equipment. Simply invest in a comfortable bike that’s lightweight and switches gears easily and has nice pedals, tires and brakes.
When training, stay focused on developing a consistent pedal stroke and breathing pattern. You also should train on similar terrain to where the triathlon will take place. If you only train on flat bike paths and enter a triathlon with steep hills, you’ll be in for a difficult race!
Avoid Injury at All Costs for Running Training
Before you hit the trail, remember that it’s crucial to have high-quality running shoes. Whether you’re a marathon runner or part-time jogger, they’re the best protection against getting injured. And always warm up before heading out for a run. If your muscles aren’t feeling loose, you’re prone to getting hurt.
A few running tips:
- Don’t run further than you should in your first few weeks. Increase your time and distance slowly.
- After about two weeks of successfully running your total race distance, begin adding more speed.
- Focus on using correct form to prevent shin splints or other common injuries.
- Stay well-rested, hydrated and fueled up.
- Don’t forget to cool down and stretch after working out.