I could never do a Triathlon.
This is a more than common response when the fact you do triathlon comes up in conversation. People often have the perception that triathlon is an endurance sport for really fit people with loads of specific kit, and that there is no way they could ever complete one.
That drives us mad!
Although Triathlon is an endurance sport, with lots of impressively fit athletes who race on beautiful bikes, there is also a growing community of novice athletes entering and enjoying the sport; and all you really need to swim, bike and run your way around a course is something to wear, goggles, trainers and a working bike.
So what is a Triathlon?
A triathlon is a multisport race; combining swimming, cycling and running. Each race begins with a swim, followed by a bike leg and then finally a run to finish. Between each discipline you have a “transition” area, this is what some people call the fourth discipline.
Before the race begins, you set up your transition area with your bike and running gear for the 2nd and 3rd leg of the race. You will enter transition after your swim, swap your helmet for your goggles, put on your shoes and exit with your bike to begin the cycle. After your bike leg, you return to exactly the same spot, where you rack your bike, remove your helmet (change your footwear if you cycle using cleats) and leave for the run.
- Remember where you rack your bike! It can be helpful to put a colourful towel on the floor by your bike for you to spot.
- Wearing a wetsuit? Using bodyglide or baby oil will really help when it comes to taking it off!
- Always put your helmet on before touching your bike!
- Talc in the shoes really helps with wet feet. (You can out on socks if you prefer, but to save time people often don’t)
- Do not ride your bike in transition!
- Check the route in-and-out of transition before the race.
- Listen to the race briefing!
How long is a Triathlon?
The race distances range from ‘Super Sprint’ to Ironman, and even these distances can vary depending on the individual race. For example, the swim distance of a triathlon varies depending on whether it is either a pool swim or open water. Super Sprint races are most commonly pool swims and are a great opportunity for newer athletes to try all three disciplines together.
Super-Sprint: 200m, 10k, 2.5k
Sprint: 750m, 20k, 5k *400m pool swim
Standard / Olympic: 1500m, 40k, 10k *800m pool swim
Middle distance / 70.3: 1.9km, 90k, 21.09km (half-marathon)
Ironman: 3.8km, 180km, 42.195km (marathon)
How do I get involved?
There are plenty of triathlons across the UK to choose from, so it is worth researching to see if you have a local race. Racing locally is great as triathlons start quite early so limited travel time is key. They’re also usually smaller, friendly and with a real mix of abilities.
Here are our tips for getting involved:
- Look out for GO TRI — a fun way to access triathlon for the first time. Join in swim, cycle or run training sessions or take part in your very first triathlon event. Both GO TRI training and events are available locally, reasonably priced, with manageable distances which have been purpose-designed for beginners.
- Join your local Club! Triathlon Clubs are full of people from ALL abilities, and are a great way to meet people who know about the sport and who can help you prepare for your first race.
- Get involved in Facebook communities — a great way to hear about local races, ask any burning questions and find more information about triathlon.
- Buy a Tri Suit — this will really help when it comes to race-day. Whichever distance you decide to conquer, it’s important to be comfortable. For the ladies, we recommend Kyra Sports — and for the rest of you, Wiggle is always a good place to start.
About Phoebe Lebrecht
Phoebe is an all round triathlete, with a love for each discipline. Having started triathlon only 3 years ago, she has now competed in over 15 events including Blenheim Castle, Xterra Offroad, Nottingham National Relays, and many more local races in Sussex. She has also become Vice Chair of Brighton Tri Club.
When not training or competing, Phoebe is behind the social media and communications for Got To Tri, a triathlon company delivering high quality training camps for all abilities. As a young, female athlete she understands the demands of the work/life balance and is often juggling the two!
Her favourite place to train is Mallorca, especially ‘Phoebe’s hill’ (which is now a segment on Strava), her favourite climb with a fantastic coffee spot worth dancing on the pedals for.
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