About Doing A TRI?
Hazen Kent - Tri-Newbies
you are thinking about doing a triathlon.
is it that has motivated you?
it personal pride, the physical challenge, the thrill of
you were flipping the channels one Fall Saturday afternoon
and became mesmerized by a bunch of crazy people swimming,
biking and running for an entire day while vacationing on
some beautiful tropical island. Maybe you were out picking
up the morning paper and saw your neighbor heading out for
a bike ride. Or did you attend a local triathlon in your
area and notice the wide mouthed grins on the faces of the
racers as they crossed the finish line?
the reason, all I have to say is…
triathlon thing is a like a poisonous bug…if you
aren’t careful, it will bite you. And the poison once in
your system is like an addictive elixir. You may never
want to quit!
where do I begin?
take a look.
comes the time for you to seriously consider what lies
ahead. Now you must sit down with yourself and think about
the reality of what it will take for you to be one of
those smiling, satisfied human beings crossing the finish
begin with, ask yourself some questions that are tied
directly to your home.
you married? Do you have kids? What is your daily work
schedule? Do you work full time outside the home or do you
work full time in the home?
you are married, you owe it to your mate to discuss this
with him/her. Sit down with your partner and discuss the
reality of doing a TRI. Of coarse, the initial
conversation can be very encouraging. But understand one
thing, neither you nor your partner really knows the type
of commitment training for a triathlon takes…physically,
emotionally and yes, financially.
you have your own mind, body and sole to think about.
Training for triathlons takes commitment, hard work (it
will seem so at first) good conditioning, quality time and
oh yea, did I mention commitment?
you have to deal with fatigue, mental letdowns, outside
responsibilities, last minute interruptions to your
training program and of coarse the good times too!
expenses can become overwhelming. You’ve got running
shoes, cycling shoes, running and cycling apparel, a
bicycle, swim suits, goggles, gym fees and pool fees…and
yes they all add up.
you have children, write out a schedule that includes your
training and daily responsibilities, with which you and
your partner can work and live. And assume you are doing
this for the long haul. Anyone can be accommodative for
one event. But after that first triathlon, what happens if
you love it so much you want to continue? Patience on your
partner’s part may be short lived. And let’s not
forget…your partner can always train with you!
of coarse, if you are single with children, the scheduling
can be even tougher.
it can be done.
finally, if you are single, with no children, than you
have NO EXCUSES.
not here to discourage you, but rather let you know some
of the basic facts that go along with triathlon training
and racing. But remember, there are folks just like you
who have considered these very things, have set out on
this very journey and wound up loving it!
Down to Business
you take another step…you need a goal. Something to
shoot for…something to keep you motivated.
begin, I suggest you choose a particular triathlon
preferably close to home. Research the various triathlon
magazines or search the Internet for a calendar of races
in your area. You find a list of calendars from which to
choose in the
page of this site.
My first recommendation would be to choose a Sprint
Distance Triathlon. Determine the time between now and
race day and give yourself enough time to adjust to your
new training regimen. And set aside enough time to provide
for a safe, injury free training period. Furthermore, do
not rush your training. I would not schedule a race any
sooner than 10 weeks out. And the farther out, the better.
Below is a break down of the distances covered in a Sprint
Sprint Distance Triathlon:
¼ mile = 400 - 500 yards(meters)
Bike: 9 – 15 miles
Run: 5K or 3.1 miles
will always be variations in the distances of a Sprint
Tri, but most will be pretty close to those listed above
you have decided on a race, sit down and map out a
training schedule to fit your daily routine. You will find
two 10-week training programs for beginners in the
Program section of this site. Use it as a model
for your own schedule.
first thing to determine when training for a triathlon is
- when will you do your training? If you work full time,
you will have to create a training schedule compatible
with your work schedule. Depending on your athletic
background, no longer will your training consist of simply
heading out for a run, driving to the pool for a swim or
hopping on your bike for an afternoon ride. You must now
combine all three sports as part of your training regimen
and perhaps even some strength training in the weight
room(primarily for strength and endurance).
you must understand, the majority of your training will
consume most of your "one time" free time.
me, this will test your commitment. But like I said, most
of the folks in this crazy sport are in the same boat, and
somehow we all find a way.
not know what your goals are regarding triathlon but we
can break that down into two basic categories:
To finish the race
b. To be competitive in the race.
it is your first race, I am guessing your main goal is to
finish the race and hopefully with a smile on your face!
If you decide you love this sport, you will find there are
plenty of triathlons out there for you to participate in
and if so desired, you can adjust and build your training
program around a more competitive performance.
you decide to become more competitive in your racing, your
training will probably become more advanced. Your training
program would have to be more organized and well planned.
If you decide you want to stick with this sport, then you
really must learn to train with patience. Burnout, excess
fatigue, injuries and ultimately frustration can develop
due to over training, and a discipline, conservative
training regimen is absolutely necessary.
comes the fun part…coughing up the greenbacks! The first
thing to determine is what do you currently possess
regarding equipment, training aids, etc and what will you
need to purchase? Below is a basic list of those items
necessary for training and competition in the sport of
Swim Suit (usually made of lycra). A swim brief is not a must in the beginning. Any swimsuit
will do. Guys, you may feel uncomfortable wearing a
men’s swimming brief, but if you choose to become more
competitive in this sport, a quality suit is crucial to
your training. For the ladies, the choices are many,
especially regarding racing apparel, so do some research
and find out what is best for you.
and bathing cap.
You will be racing in a cap, so wearing one may help you
get used to it. For ladies and long-haired guys, you will
want a cap to keep the hair out of your eyes while
swimming. Get a rubber cap, not lycra.
3. (Optional) A kick board, pull buoy and paddles.
If you swim with a masters program or at your local pool
facility, these items will probably be available. If they
are not and you do decide to stick with this sport, I
would consider making the purchase.
- at this point, do not concern yourself with purchasing a
new bicycle. Any bike with gears will be fine. In fact,
many of today’s Sprint races have a "fat tire"
division for those with mountain bikes, hybrids et.al. It
is important, however, to have a bike that fits your body.
2. Bike Shoes. Again, if you decide to stick with
this sport, you will need a pair of bike shoes. For your
first race, however, you can cycle in your running shoes.
Make sure the bike pedals on your bicycle do not require
specific cycling shoes. If they do, you will have to make
a decision…either purchase different pedals or invest in
some bike shoes. If your bike does have cycling specific
pedals, I recommend having them switched out for a pair of
basic pedals with a toe clip. A new pair of bike shoes can
run you between $100-300. Where as, a set of standard
pedals would probably only set you back about $30 (maybe
less!). The bike shop will be able to change them out in a
matter of minutes.
3. Cycling apparel. I do recommend purchasing a
couple pairs of cycling shorts for your training. Your
derriere will be glad you did. Visit your local bike shop
or search the Internet. You will find a list of the
leading retailers listed in the Tri-Links
section of this site.
4. Cycling Computer. A cycling computer will be
helpful with your training in determining your speeds and
distances. But it is not a necessity. And there are many
on the market. If you want one, find the most basic and
5. Water bottles and Repair Equipment. Water is
vital! You will need water bottles (and bottle cages) for
your bicycle. Having spare equipment will do you little
good if you do not know how to change a tire. Especially
if you are training alone. And always take along some
money for a phone call(s) in the event you are left
stranded. I have flatted out twice on one ride and all my
spares were used up. One phone call, and 15 minutes later,
a friend was there to pick me up. For now, I suggest you
cycle close to home or with a partner. But for most of us,
cycling close to home often means cycling in busier
traffic so always cycle with caution.
A good pair of running shoes.
This is very important. If at all possible, try to
purchase your first pair from a knowledge source. That is
someone who can look at your feet and determine what you
may need. Good shoes are important. If there is a running
specific store in your area…use it! Even if the shoes
are expensive. Once you find a pair you love, then you can
order online all day long and really save.
2. Comfortable Apparel. This includes comfortable
and weather appropriate clothing. 3. Cap. If the
sun is hot, a good cap is a plus to shade your face. Find
one made with mesh. This will allow heat from your head to
Heart Rate Monitor.
Once you decide you want to stick with this sport, invest
in a Heart Rate Monitor. It
will wind up being your favorite training partner. You
will find a good source for heart rate monitors in the Tri
2. Wetsuit. Again, if you decide to stick with the
sport, you will want to invest in a wetsuit
as well. Now, for those of you living in areas where the
waters remain chilly throughout the Spring and Summer you
may want to consider wearing a wetsuit from the get go.
But before you buy, see if you can borrow. Do not purchase
a Dive suit or Surfing wetsuit. The material is much
thicker and suits tend to be looser fitting. A Triathlon
wetsuit is light and basically skin tight and allows for
+ One + One = One
want to emphasize that even though you may excel in one
particular sport (swim, bike or run), it is important to
balance all three activities when training. If you are a
runner, for example, you will have an advantage over most
of the triathletes during your race, as long as you have
not wasted yourself on the swim and bike. Because your
race performance will be a direct result of your training,
a balanced training program is necessary. Once you add two
additional sports to your training regimen, your specialty
may actually suffer a bit, at least in the beginning.
Remember, two of the three events in triathlon – the
bike and run - put a great deal of stress on the legs, so
again, balance is the key to preventing over training and
let’s discuss each event as they exist in a traditional
Without going into the specifics of "How to
Swim", and not knowing your swimming background, I do
have a few suggestions. If you are having difficulty with
your freestyle in any way and you want to learn some
specific drills to improve your stroke, you will find
Drills that Will Make You Swim Faster located
on this site. Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion is
also a good source for swim drills. If there is a masters
swim program in your area with a coach, than I recommend
you join. If you do have to swim solo, I have provided
several workouts located in the
Section of this site.
are some basic facts that may help you as you approach
your swim training. Most of today’s pools are 25 yards
in length and one length = 25 yards. 4 lengths = 100
yards. In a Sprint Distance Triathlon, the typical swim is
a quarter mile (¼) or around 400-500 yards, which is
equal to 16-20 lengths. Now, some of you may be swimming
in a 50 meter pool which will be a bit different regarding
lengths and distances.
to conversion chart below:
yard pool: 50 meter pool:
length = 25 yards 1 length = 50 meters
2 lengths = 50 yards 2 lengths = 100 meters
4 lengths = 100 yards 4 lengths = 200 meters
16 lengths = 400 yards 8 lengths = 400 meters
20 lengths = 500 yards 10 lengths = 500 meters
Beginning a cycling program does not have to be difficult.
As mentioned earlier, you will need a bike with gears. And
this can be a mountain bike, a hybrid, or preferably a
road/triathlon bike. Regardless of the bike you choose
easy riding and building mileage is the key. You can start
out with 10 miles or so on your rides and build to 25-30
miles in a relatively quick period of time without injury.
In the beginning, do not worry about speed. If you live in
a hilly area, try to stay as aerobic as possible on the
uphill climbs. Switch to lower gears and try to stay in
the saddle. If you happen to have a heart rate monitor,
use it and try to keep your heart rate within your aerobic
zone. If want to know more about
Rat Monitors and Methods of Heart Training click here
do not worry about spending big dollars on fancy bike
equipment at this point. If you decide to stick with this
sport, there will be plenty of time for you to blow your
dough on the bike!
remember. Make sure your bike is safe and operating, as it
should. Take it by your local bike shop and get properly
fit. Have them check the brakes, the tires, the gears,
etc. to make sure your ride is ready for the roads.
If you are not or have not been a "runner" or
you are not in the best condition, or perhaps you are
returning to running after a long hiatus and you are
heavier than normal, you need to approach your running
program with care and some smarts. And, there are some
excellent books on the market that will help you design a
plan to get you high steppin’ on the roads and trails:
Jeff Galloway…Marathon Training
Phil Maffetone…In Fitness and in Health
reason I refer you to these books, besides the fact that
they are interesting and helpful for over all health and
fitness, is because these authors endorse walking as a
means of building a running program. And they incorporate
walking in their programs. Folks, there is nothing wrong
with walking before or during a running program. At
6’4" and 200 lbs, my size just doesn’t warrant me
pounding the pavement as often as many of my lighter,
quicker compadre’s! So I add some walking. And I find it
wonderful. But to each his own and you will learn what is
best suited for your body, your size and your physical
condition. If you do run on a fairly regular basis, run
easy and keep your heart rate a little lower than normal,
at least until you begin to acclimate yourself to your new
as mentioned earlier (and I cannot mention it enough) get
yourself a pair of good running shoes. Visit a running
specific store if at all possible and have someone check
out your body position, how you stand, your gate or
stride, your feet, etc. and determine what shoe is best
closing, remember you are incorporating a rather busy and
body intensive training regimen - three sports and some
weight lifting – with your already busy day. So please,
train carefully and use your brain. Our goal at Tri-Newbies
Online is keep you involved in this sport for the long
Be patient and Good luck.