Who wouldn’t want to sign up for a triathlon after seeing the Brownlee brothers carry each other to glory in this year's olympics.
When choosing your first tri event, you’re spoilt for choice, but which triathlon should you enter? Follow our step by step to get you to the starting line of your first event.
Setting a Goal:
The first thing you need to do is make your goal of entering (and of course completing) your first triathlon, a SMART goal.
What makes a goal SMART? Smart is an acronym which helps make your goals clear for success.
Specific - To make a goal specific this is where you ask yourself the who, what where and whens. So for a triathlon you may decide where you want to compete, is that alone or with company and when will your first race be?
Measurable - Make sure you can measure your progress? This could be adding minutes to the amount of time your training each week or increasing your distance.
Attainable - Any goal is attainable if you put the work in, but make sure your triathlon goal is achievable, give yourself the relevant amount of time to complete your training and give your best performance.
Relevant: Is your goal worthwhile, does it fit with your other aims? For example, if your secondary goal is bulking and building muscle, a triathlon could impair your progress here. Make sure all you goals compliment each other for the best results.
Timely: This is your time limit, so for example rather than I’d love to do a tri, it’s in 2017 I will complete a triathlon.
Once you’ve got a clear smart goal for your tri training. It’s time to pick a distance.
Choose a distance
The chances are you’ve probably thought about this whilst you’ve been accessing whether your goal is SMART, but this is your next step, as your distances decipher your training routine.
The are three main triathlon distances:
ITU Long Distance 02
20km (Double Olympic)
ITU Long Distance 03
30km (Triple Olympic)
Typically, most people will start their first triathlon with a sprint distance, however those with a little more competitive experience, ie. marathon runners, may be tempted to begin with the Olympic distance, as they are already confident with the run. Having said that, remember the run is the last discipline meaning unlike your regular runs, your body is now tired from a swim and bike ride.
Choose a race
Once you’ve decided your distance, you’re set to go to pick a race date.
To figure out which race you want to enter there are tons of tri event pages, Sundried have a list of UK events here (link to tri) . If you have a specific area in mind, simply search the area you’re heading to followed by sprint triathlon and you’ll be sure to find any events.
An indoor triathlon can be a great way to ease yourself into your first triathlon, as it removes the element of the sea swim - which can often be the most daunting discipline for newcomers. This allows you to practice performing three sports and perfecting your transition before you tackle a sea swim, which comes with the worry of battling the tide, other swimmers, sea debris, drifting and what can often be a difficult entry or exit to the transition zone.
Book early - events sell out
Events such as triathlon take a lot of training, so people tend to decide well in advance that they’re ready to enter. And with such detailed safety requirements, organisers often enforce a limit on the number of entrants. Once you’ve set your goal, book an event asap to avoid disappointment.
Finding time - and balance - to train for three sports
In order to ace your first triathlon you need to practice each of your three sport disciplines and it can be difficult to fit in the time for training. Even if, for example, you’re confident with your run, it’s still worth practicing a run after a cycle or swim, as this very much changes your race dynamic. Training sessions where you include more than one discipline are called brick sessions. Brick workouts stack together two sports and so are a great way of testing how your body will react after your muscles are pre exhausted. Brick workouts help your body handle the aerobic, anaerobic, and muscular demands of a triathlon event.
Get a coach
For novices, training for a triathlon can feel complicated and a good coach will make your training feel simple, increasing your confidence and ensuring you're prepared for every aspect of the race. They’ll help with your plan, nutrition and any questions which may pop up along your journey. You can visit our Personal Trainer Ambassador pages here to find a trainer profile you’re comfortable with, or alternatively visit our Personal Trainer database to find a trainer near your location.
The TrainingNow comes the tough part, the training. Sundried are producing a training regime for your first triathlon which will be developed over the forthcoming weeks. In our ‘My First Triathlon’ section you’ll find all our hints and tips, advice from pro athletes, accessory reviews and trainer advice.
Meet our newest member of the team, Alice Hector.
Alice has been racing as a professional triathlete since 2014. She is a recently crowned IRONMAN 70.3 champion (Ruegen - in a course record time), 2* Israman champion, and has collected wins and podiums at several 70.3 and full ironman distance races. Over the past 2 years she has been both Scottish Triathlon and Duathlon Champion. Alice was the fastest amateur overall at the World Sprint Championships in 2013, which is when she decided to make the move to the pro scene. Alice also enjoyed an unbroken run of ultramarathon victories from 2010-2012; a sport which she plans to return to with full force in the future. For the 2017 season - her aims lie with 70.3 championship events and more time on the podium! Aside from triathlon, Alice is a freelance copywriter and fitness model. We found out more:
How did you get into triathlon?
I swam and ran for the County as a child and wanted to be an elite athlete at both distance running and sprint swimming. My coaches tried to get me into triathlon but I thought it sounded like a silly sport so put it off for ages.
When I got to Loughborough University, I approached the swim coach who promptly told me I would only be good for their 4th team, and to go and do triathlon. I could avoid it no longer. Desperate to be an elite at something, the journey started aged 19.
I fell out of love with triathlon after a few years of taking it too seriously. I stopped, got a job and did the ‘living for the weekend’ thing for 6 years, but there was no real satisfaction in that. To keep ‘my toe in’ whilst working, ultra-marathon was my new sport. I only did a couple of years of it and won the 5 I did: the furthest being 100 miles in one day. I got injured (as you would) and was swimming and cycling a bit which also coincided with a move to Windsor in 2012, where I met lots of ‘triathlonny’ people who were actually pretty fun! Hence my relationship with EVO tri club was born and remains to this day. I decided to go for the World AG champs, won that in 2013, and never looked back. I’m loving this ‘second wind’ – it feels like I’m doing it my way this time, and it’s starting to work!
Having said that I want to know my limits with ultra running, so will definitely look to return to that once I am too old and slow to be a pro.
What are your top tri tips for anyone new to the sport?
- Join a club. Experiences are far better when shared with friends, and you’ll learn a lot too.
- Triathlon has so many facets to it that it can easily become obsessive. It’s important to maintain friendships and relationships outside of the sport and not become one-dimensional and boring.
- There will be good days and bad. Try not to get too high when it goes well and too low when it doesn’t. The nature of sport is that it’s unpredictable, so go with the flow, and try and learn from every experience.
- Stick at it! You’ll be amazed how far you come but it takes a bit of time. A lot of coaches say never to look back, just look forward. For me, remembering from whence I came is a vital part of keeping my motivation intact.
How much time do you spend training?
Totally varies. This week I’ve only done about 6 hours as I’ve had a cold! A typical week tops out at around 20-25 but I don’t really count. I’m not huge into volume and find regular, quality sessions work best for me, then I simply add in a few long rides as an aerobic boosters before any race at or above 70.3 distance.
What are your favourite exercises?
I like the hardest interval wattbike sessions so anything with repeats of 1,2 or 3 minutes when I’m right on the limit. The same with treadmill sessions: I like short interval repeats, repeated over and over! I prefer the treadmill as it sets the pace for you and all you have to do is not fall off.
However, were all my sessions to be indoors I would most definitely get cabin fever, so a breath of fresh air is a wonderful thing too. Windsor has great open water swimming venues in the summer and I like the freedom of being able to do my own swimming training uninterrupted.
Do you have a pre race routine to get yourself motivated?
I certainly don’t need motivating any more at big races – they are nerve-wracking enough.
I find it best not to have a ‘must-do’ routine as this can get you stressed in a new place. I had it in my head a year ago that I needed to swim the day before a race to keep ‘the feel’ alive, so we would end up trekking into various squalid lagoons or driving a long way to go to a pool. Then I didn’t bother one race and the outcome was no different. So it’s a case of ‘whatever’ now, to an extent.
I do lots of mobility exercises that I can do anywhere, and chill out as much as possible. A few minutes at race pace the day before the race sees me good.
Who are your fitness heroes?
Sadly, I have banished heroes from my life as I was a massive Lance Armstrong/100 m sprinting fan as a child and that got spoiled. I do love the stories on social media about older people running long or fast or being gymnastic at 90 – they amaze me and I hope I am fortunate enough to emulate them in some way one day.
What do you like most about Sundried?
The Sundried brand looks great, for starters. I like the vibe of the team: positive, creative types that buy into my skillset as an athlete and brand.
Sundried mirrors to a great extent the qualities that are required to succeed in elite sport: they take no shortcuts, use quality products, and there’s a real attention to detail with the little things, such as packaging, stitching, fabrics, and overall presentation. They’re extremely ethical and are setting the standard for other clothing brands to aspire to.
We’re delighted to have Alice on board and wish her all the best for competing in 2017.
Congratulations on entering your first triathlon. You've probably just realised you are actually doing this, so you're going to need some kit!
Never fear, Sundried have got you covered with our guide to kit, including all the bits you can’t live without on race day!
The kit any triathlete cannot live without:
If you're entering an official event, they’ll have rules around you wearing a wetsuit - and being in the UK, it’s rare the water temperature reaches above the temperature where wetsuits are forbidden, so you’ll want this race essential.
Wetsuits keep you warm and also aid you buoyancy - so for new triathletes they’re great. The wetsuit helps you to stay afloat during your open water swim. It won’t do the work for you, but it certainly helps.
For your first tri, it can be expensive to fork out for all the new kit, so why not hire or even borrow a wetsuit? We recommend https://www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk/.
If you end up becoming a regular triathlete, your wetsuit will become a necessity in your open water training regime. Having your own suit also means you have plenty of time to practice getting into and out of it...tricky!
Now if you’re entering a pool based tri - you can get away with your swimsuit, but hit the open water and this is the best option.
Now technically you can live without this, but then you're looking at packing separate kit for your swim, ride and run. Wearing a tri suit just makes life that much easier. Rather than having to change from wetsuit to cycle shorts to your running gear, a tri suit is designed to stay with you from start to finish. Why the tri suit? Tri suits usually come in a half suit or a full suit . Whether you opt for the all in one or two-piece is entirely up to you, both do the same job and that job is to provide simplicity for what is, due to the very event's nature, a complicated race.
How does a tri suit help you? Tri suits are designed to be worn throughout the entire race and to guide you through each discipline. Made from thin, breathable material that will slip under your wetsuit, the top is usually sleeveless. The bottoms has a small pad in the crotch for your ride, which typically is slightly less padded than you may find in bike shorts - so not to chafe you when you begin to run with them.
Most swimmers will have a decent pair of goggles to protect their eyes from the dreaded sting of chlorine, but when it comes to sea swimming your goggles are often needed for more than just keeping water out of your eyes. The glare from the sun on a bright day can prevent your ability to see the buoys as you swim - which are what keeps you safe and heading in the right direction! Tinted goggles will aid your vision and help you stay on track.
Often, race organisers will provide these, as your swim cap may have your number on it. If not it’s recommended you wear one, not only will it keep your hair out of your face, preventing it from obscuring your vision, it also keeps your head dry, meaning you're not cycling and running with cold, wet hair, which will make you feel colder.
For a sprint distance tri, you don’t really need to worry about investing in an expensive tri bike, as your only cycling for 20 km, however if you want to pick up some speed opt for a road bike or a hybrid over your mountain bike. It’s best to pick the same bike you train with rather than battle with getting familiar with a new bike on race day. Trust me, you’ve got enough to worry about.
Safety first. A helmet could save your life. In any race you will not be allowed to ride without a helmet. Be sure to check your helmet fits properly - prior to your race. And ladies - try your helmet with your hair the way it will be when it comes out of a swim cap ie.FLAT.
Triathlon specific trainers have nifty little extra such as bike clips and quick fastening laces, but they’re not essential for a beginner.
You hardly have time spare to be toweling yourself down, but your towel also serves as a great marker for your disorientated post swim self to look out for. Most triathletes just stand on their towel whilst they quickly transition to the bike.
A running top to slip on over your tri suit is essential. Opt for a technical t shirt, as these are designed to wick sweat - meaning it will dry quickly if you’re already wet! The Sundried technical T shirt offers comfort and support and is perfect for this leg of the race. Avoid cotton which will weigh you down when wet.
Water should and most probably will, be handed out by marshalls throughout the race course, but it’s always best to have your own in case you need extra - or miss a marshal! This is a tough sport and you will be dehydrated. Don’t do a Jonathan Brownlee !
A Race Entry!
Finally, of course, you're going to need a race entry! Live in Southend? Sundried are sponsoring the Southend Triathlon 2017. Need help picking a race? You can read our triathlon reviews here to help you make your choice.
Nicetri events are ready for you to start the season early with this February event on 19.02.2017, shake off the winter and test your fitness for the start of the season.
The Anglian Water Duathlon offers a picturesque setting in Cambridgeshire which inspires first-timers as well as those that have raced for national titles and the Great Britain Age-Group qualification.
This is a race for everyone and suited to all abilities.
Both race distances take entrants on a picturesque race around the local lake and woodland.
Both run sections take place on hard compound tracks and feature steady climbs at the outset, which obviously means you’ll be running downhill to the first transition and the finishing line.
The bike course contains long smooth stretches which allows fast intervals of speed, whilst also including climbing hill intervals to test your strength.
Due to the early season start - it is advised you regularly check the weather before the race, whether it’s tri suits or thermals - it’s sure to be an exciting race day.
Sprint: 5km run / 20km bike / 5km run
Standard: 10km run / 40km bike / 5km run
Parking will be at the venue “Mander car park” (weather permitting, if wet follow marshals and signs to local car parks). Race packs will be collected upon registration on the day of the event. All participants receive a race brief email, and the full race details will be available on site two days prior to the event. Registration takes place between 7 and 8am on race day, with early arrival recommended.
Race Number and Chip Timing
All race entrants are issued with a race number which must be clearly visible at all times. Nice tri also provide number markings on entrants hands with pen. Your number needs to be displayed at all times to be used as a backup to the electronic chipping system. Each entrant is provided a computerised chip timing which should be attached to the left ankle. To ensure accurate chip feedback it is essential to run over the timing mats at the various marked stations. Results include finish time and splits which will be available shortly after the completion of the event.
Transition areas are protected by security and competitors will need to show their I.D to be allowed in or out of this area. Prior to entering transition your race number and bike and helmet labels must be attached. Your bike will have a designated transition area and a helmet must be worn at all times.
Prizes will be awarded for both first positioning men and women, and every entrant will receive a goodie bag.
For more information visit Nicetri events website here.
Multisports management bring to you a brand new one off event for 2016 at Tri Farm Boreham, 1st October 2016.
This small and fun event is a great way to spend an autumn afternoon and with a 2pm start there’s no early alarms!
Registration will be held by the venue gate from 12:30. Race briefing at 13.45. Race start 1400hrs.
600m Lake Swim. 14km bike and 5km run.
Tri farm is a “one stop triathlon training facility” based in Boreham, Essex. With it’s very own lake , cycle and run route this is the ultimate place to practice your tri. The guys at Tri farm have thought of everything from wetsuit hire to last minute wetsuit lube and goggles! The supervised swim course has an average depth of 2m. The run course is all around the track. All the staff are RLSS qualified and there are even picnic tables for emergency cake or bacon rolls post tri!
The swim is in Tri farms lake. As this is a small fun event, Multisports management will be setting swimmers off individually in numerical order, 20 seconds apart. So you'll have no problems with crowding. Waves will be split into genders and age groups. The start is over at the usual Tri farm swim place; you'll spot it (the lakes a big clue). Please keep off the run path as bikes will be using it.
After you swim clockwise for 3/4 of a lap, keeping the turn buoys on your right you make your way to the exit, do so with caution as it is up onto slippery uneven surface. Wetsuits are likely to be optional, this will depend on the water temperature.
The bike course is mainly on road, with approximately 30% off road. Mountain bikes or hybrids with a reasonable tread are recommended. There no fixed gears allowed
The running route is based around the lake, ail running shoes and trainers with a decent tread are recommended (but not spikes.)
Race numbers are very important as the event is manually timed.
Results and Prizes:
This is a fun event rather than a competition. You'll all get a finishers medal. Awards will be made for fastest swim and fastest run and fastest overall male and female competitors.
For more visit Multisport, the organiser’s website.