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Quick Guide to Sprint Triathlon Training

Updated on August 18, 2014

What you Need to Know Before You Compete in a Sprint Tri

This lens was created for someone who has made the decision to participate in a sprint-distance triathlon for the first time. This will be a guide to get you started. Feel free to check the reference guide should you want further detail from websites that can provide in-depth information on training for a sprint-triathlon.

What you Need


So what do you need to participate in a sprint triathlon? Since it is assumed that you are coming to this page as a newbie to triathlons, lets keep it simple and cheap. You will need the following:

#1 Swim Gear - Some people wear different types of gear but I try to keep it minimal. I wear a tri-suit which may set you back about $100 dollars if you shop online. Some tri-suits can be much more expensive. The reason I wear a tri-suit is so I don't have to worry about changing in and out of a bathing suit to put cycling and running clothes on. It saves time and mental effort keeping track of it all. You will also need a comfortable pair of goggles to wear for the race. I tend to use dark-tinted goggles for my races to keep down the glare while I swim. You shouldn't need a swim cap as one will be provided for you. You will notice in your first race that different people have different color swim caps. The different color caps designate what heat the triathlete is in. For example, an elite triathlete may wear a silver cap, while a triathlete in age group 18-24 will wear a white cap and may be in the fifth heat.

#2 Race Gear - It is not necessary to buy an expensive bike for your first triathlon. It is not necessary to buy a road bike either, but I recommend buying a cheap one. I found one on amazon for $200. Buying any bike over $600 dollars for your first triathlon may not be the best investment. I wanted to try a race before I committed to buying expensive gear, and I think that is the best way to go. Don't forget to bring your helmet to the race as well!

#3 Running Gear - You will also need a hat, sneakers, socks, a towel, and something to pin your race number to your shirt for the day of the race.

#4 Miscellaneous - Make sure to bring a water bottle and food with you because as you may need it. It would not hurt to have two water bottles with you on race day - one to keep on your bike and one to use during transition.

Training For the Swim

If you are a novice swimmer it is important to log your hours in at the pool. It would be beneficial to take several swim classes to learn how to swim freestyle. All-in-all make sure you spend as much time as you need to feel comfortable for the ¼ to ½ mile swim you have in the open water. It should be mentioned that you may want to practice swimming in open water prior to race day. A tip for new swimmers learning freestyle for the first time - follow your hand through the entire stroke as you swim. If you are comfortable breathing to your right, watch your hand enter the water, cut through the water, leave the water and watch you hand as it 'recovers' in the air. This will keep your body rotating through the stroke and will create an open pocket that makes it easier for you to breathe during the recovery phase. As far as amount of time in the pool, I found it easy to swim on weekends at my local YMCA for 1 to 2 hours a time each week.

Training for the Bike

Most of triathlon training for newbies is to log enough hours on each discipline to ensure you are in good shape for race day. This is the same case for the bike. Whether you are on the stationary bike, in spin class, or on the road make sure you are biking up to ten miles in one setting and at least 2-3 times per week, depending on how strong of a cyclist you are. By the end of your training you may want to combine running and biking (or 'bricks') to ensure you have the stamina to finish the race.

Training For the Run

Many new triathletes feel that the run will be the strongest leg of the race. You must keep in mind that on race day, it is the last leg of the triathlon so you may have less endurance than you think when it comes time to run. Make sure to run at least 2-3 times a week as well (please remember that time to train are guidelines and it might be a better idea to focus more time on your weaknesses than your strengths).

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