Triathlons – How to get started for the first time

By We Love Cycling

As a cyclist, it’s easy to become comfortable behind the handlebars. Although you’re more than likely at a high level of physical fitness, the concept of becoming an athlete in other areas of sport can seem daunting. Transitioning can seem like a difficult task, but with the right training and preparation, your cycling background can greatly benefit your experience. So, if you’re looking for a challenge, dust off your trainers and pull out those speedos! For an approach that’s as smooth and seamless as a flying mount, read on…

The swim

Most aspiring triathletes dread the swim, but be confident knowing that your cycling background has already helped you reach the high level of aerobic fitness needed to ace it. By focusing on controlled breathing, your form and smooth movements, you’ll gain both the skills and confidence needed to excel on the day you compete. When you start training, make sure that two of your five weekly workouts are swims to build up endurance. And remember that swimming will help to lengthen your hip flexors, benefiting both your cycling and running. If you’re taking up swimming for the first time, consider joining a triathlon club. You’ll learn the skill and get the support you need from those with plenty of experience.

The cycle

It’s easy for cyclists to view their cycling practice as a respite from the rest of their triathlon training, but even professional cyclists can acknowledge that there is always room to improve! Try and assess your cycling to figure out your strengths and weaknesses; this will help you adjust your training accordingly. Another tip is to practice cycling under the conditions that you will race in by wearing the gear you will be competing in and following your race-day diet. This will differentiate your training from your usual cycling and will help get you into the right mindset. It’s also good to note that you don’t need to make the switch to a full-on triathlon bike, clip-on extensions will work just fine.

Race day tip:  It’s important to prepare for your transition from one sport to the next. To speed things up, keep your helmet on the handlebars at waist height on the side of the bike closest to you so you don’t lose time reaching down to grab it. Small things can make a big difference in your time and the feeling of being prepared will leave you feeling confident before the race.

The run

The first important thing to remember is that, despite wanting to completely smash the cycling leg, you’ll need to hold back a little on the bike to conserve some energy for the run. Running is also a fantastic cardiovascular workout for cyclists. Impact sports like this help maintain bone density, which is something that low-impact sports do not. Running with technique though, takes practice and the risk of personal injury is far higher than with the other two sports. Take your time when training and listen to your body. Focus ahead and keep your head and shoulders aligned above your core. When training for your first triathlon, it’s best to aim for longevity rather than speed. Consistent runs will keep your stamina up and get you comfortable in your form. Aim to have your running at a level where it becomes second nature to you, so by the time you hop off your bike you’ll jump straight into the run with ease. After all, if your run is executed correctly, it can majorly boost your time!

Before you start your triathlon training, check out our article on how to get road-ready after the winter months here.