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Training for a Triathlon - Part 1

Updated on March 10, 2012

So you want to do a Triathlon?

Triathlons used to be a sport considered only to be undertaken by professional athletes due to the extreme physical nature of the sport. This has changed over the years due to all types of triathlons being devised to draw athletes of all shapes and sizes to these events. The world has woken up and realized the importance and need to exercise, balancing out the empty calories consumed by us at quick fast-food outlets. What was once considered too tough for the average person has become a challenge for many, whether it be a short fun triathlon right up to the arduous Ironman triathlon. The reason for this, I believe, is that we are recognising that all of us need something to work toward to achieve a goal. Triathlons test your ability and endurance in a number of ways, while at the same time being a rather social event. The beauty of a triathlon is that you are not really competing against others (unless you are a professional), but rather you are competing against yourself - testing your own ability and strength. This is a sport where you could come in last and still feel like a winner, and that is the appeal of a triathlon to many - knowing you have accomplished something you set out to do.

Starting Out

The first step to training for a triathlon is to set yourself a goal. Some people participate to raise awareness for a cause while others just want to achieve a goal of completing a challenge. Whatever your reason, it needs to be clear so that you do not lose motivation.

  • Tell someone about your goal so that you make yourself accountable.
  • Research the triathlons in your area and find one that is realistic for you to achieve. Make sure you give yourself time to train for it.
  • Register and pay your money for the event. Once you have committed to it, it won't be easy to give up and you won't want to waste the money you have spent.
  • If you go to a gym, utilize their programs to help you train. Group Cycle Studio classes are a good way to get your fitness up. Use the pool to begin your swimming training and the treadmills give you no excuse in bad weather to skip training.
  • Start your training slowly if you are unfit - getting out on the road and cycling or running for miles will dishearten you, shock your body and make you want to give up - Rome wasn't built in a day!
  • Research other triathletes training tips through blogs, books and websites. Find a program that works for you and fits into your lifestyle.
  • Our family has just been through a year of training - my husband had set his goal to compete in an Ironman event. This required all of us to support and encourage him and to help him with his training. Find people who will support you and turn a deaf ear to those who try to discourage you.
  • Research equipment. Triathlon gear is expensive, there's no doubt about that. Unless you are doing a substantial triathlon don't spend a fortune. Rather get a reliable bike at an affordable price and a decent pair of running shoes that won't break your bank balance. A short fun triathlon will not require you to get a triathlon swimsuit - you could get away with a long sleeved rash vest.
  • Try and find others to train with - it is always more fun to work with like-minded people. There are triathlon clubs that you can join.


I would not advise spending a fortune on the latest gear if you are starting out as a triathlete. You need to complete an event first to see if you want to continue with the sport. Many people go out and feel pressured to get into large amounts of debt to equip themselves with the latest gear when it is not necessary. Look on Ebay or auction sites to see if there are bicycles or wetsuits that you can purchase. Other online stores are hugely helpful in getting reduced prices on running shoes and clothing. Take our scenario: My husbands Asics Gel Kayano's cost us about AU$260 a pair if we purchase them here in the store. We purchase them online through a company called Wiggle for AU$170 - that's a big saving! Online stores also have clearance sales each season to clear out their older stock - at huge reductions. Before buying shoes online, visit your local sports store and let them look at your foot and how you run - this is to ensure that you choose the right shoe - try it on for size and comfort. You are not obliged to buy from them, but you will know what shoe and size to order online if you go that route.

Bicycles can be very expensive - some are even more expensive than cars where we live. Again you don't need an expensive bike if you are doing smaller triathlons. I would suggest you buy a road bike and not a triathlon bike as it is far more versatile and will be easier to sell should you decide triathlons are not for you. Buying a good helmet is advisable as you don't want something that will crack or break in a fall. Get advice from your local bike shop before you buy anything - you need to know what size frame is suitable for you.

Now that you have researched the equipment, registered for your triathlon, you are ready to start training -This will be covered in Part 2 of Training for a Triathlon.


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