First Triathlon Swim

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:














Half Ironman




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.

First Triathlon Bike

Indoor triathlons

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 Training

Now 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.