So You Wanna Be A Triathlete?

24 08 2011

Well that was some excitement for the week. I’m talking about that little earthquake the entire east coast felt yesterday! It was fascinating to see the power of social media as my Twitter feed was overloaded with messages about the tremors.

Yea, it was a bit crazy because earthquakes are something that the east coast so RARELY experiences. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much damage in my area! I hope you are all ok!

***And now back to your regularly scheduled blog post. ***

Since starting 321delish, Chloe and I have had a number of people tell us that they really want to get into triathlons. This is no surprise, with the ever-increasing popularity of the sport. USA Triathlon reports that participation in triathlon is at its all-time high. In 2010, an estimated 2.3 million individuals completed a triathlon, according to a report from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. This is a 55% increase in one year! 55%!!!

Some of the people we talk to are runners, some are cyclists, some are swimmers, and some are just normal, active people. Many of them say, “So I can (fill in activity here), and I want to get into tris. What do I do?”

Though I’m not an expert at this, here are a few tips for people who are interested in getting into the sport.

1) Sign up for a race

I say this as the first thing to do, because it gives you something to work towards. Putting a date on the calendar is that first kick to get you started, because you know that you need to be as ready as you can by that date.


I would recommend signing up for a sprint triathlon as your first race, but you know your body and how hard you can/want to push it. Need some help finding a race? Check out Chloe’s post on race-finding tools.

Overwhelmed by the number of races? Consider the following when picking your first race:

a) Cost-Triathlons are EXPENSIVE! I would suggest looking for local, small races. You won’t hurt your wallet too much and the smaller races aren’t as intimidating.

b) Location- Where will you race? How long will it take to get there (and how much will it cost to get you and your bike there?) Will you need lodging? Again, I’m a fan of local races, or races in locations where I have a free place to crash. Yay races in South Jersey.

Or, if you’re up for it, make it a vacation that kicks off with a tri, and ends with you relaxing on the beach somewhere. Laurens doing Ironman Cozumel…I’d go to Cozumel but without the Ironman part;-)

source

c) Course- If you aren’t a strong swimmer, consider doing a tri with a pool swim, instead of an open water swim for your first tri. If you excel at riding hills, find a race with a hilly course.

d) Date/Time of year-There is no one-size fits all time frame for how long it takes to train for a tri. It really depends on where you’re starting from athletically, and what distance your race will be. Then, you can backwards plan your training. Be aware that triathlons require a decent chunk of time to train, so plan around your life accordingly :-) Also, think about when in the season you want to race- do you want a race in the spring, and train over the winter? Or do you want a late summer/fall race, and do the bulk of your training in the summer?

Whatever race you choose, just get one on the calendar. When you receive the “Thank you for registering” email, that’s when it becomes real.

2) If you’re already working out regularly-keep doing it! If you’re not, get started!

I personally don’t follow a training plan, but I did for my first tri, so I have a sense of how much running, biking and swimming I should be doing when I have a race coming up. I did my first tri with Team In Training, which provided me with coaching, a training plan, and of course training buddies! I highly recommend joining some kind of swimming, biking, running, or tri team if you thrive on training with others. Or, use the power of social media to find #triathletes in your area. They are great motivators.

And margarita drinking buddies:

If you’re going to go solo, do a little research and find a training plan. Here are some sites where you can download one:

Beginner Triathlete
Active.com
Tri Newbies

3) Make sure you have the basic gear

You DON’T need to go out and spend a ridiculous amount of money on the lightest bike out there or the latest wetsuit design. All that stuff is expensive, and not necessary for beginners. Heck, its not even necessary for dedicated age-groupers. Just get the basics, and if you really get into triathlons (or win the lottery), you can get some of the fancy schmancy stuff that the pros use.

For me, here are the bare necessities:

Swim:

Swim suit (train in this, but I don’t recommend it for your race)
Cap (they usually provide you with one at the race site, but you’ll need one to train in if you’ve got long hair)
Goggles
Wet suit (Only if you plan on racing in cold water)

Bike:

Bicycle
Helmet
Bike shorts (Again, for training, not for the race)

Run:

Running sneakers
Workout clothes

Triathlon Specific gear:

I recommend getting tri shorts and a tri top. Not necessary for your first race, but you’ll be WAY more comfortable and have faster transitions than if you race in your swim suit and shorts!

4) Go have fun!

It’s your first race! Grab some friends early risers to come cheer you on. Enjoy participating in a competition with others who have dedicated just as many hours as you have. Feel that sense of accomplishment for doing something challenging, and persevere to the end! It will feel amazing to cross that finish line!

Philly, 2008: my first tri

Question of the day: Are you thinking of doing a triathlon? What’s holding you back? OR What suggestions do you have for newbie triathletes?


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87 responses

24 08 2011
Victoria (District Chocoholic)

Also important: find a tri buddy with the same swimsuit as you. That is key.

24 08 2011
321delish

AGREED!

27 08 2011
The Edmonton Tourist

Why?

27 08 2011
321delish

haha, that was a joke; Victoria and I are wearing the same suit (unintentionally) in that picture

24 08 2011
sarah

Too bad you guys aren’t doing a give away for that bike!

Tri’s are so much fun! Im so glad I got into them :)

24 08 2011
321delish

The retail of that bike is like almost 12K. That would be an incredible giveaway!

24 08 2011
Lauren

I am more excited for margarita drinking than the Ironman. Just incase you didn’t already know that.

24 08 2011
321delish

I’m sure they have some DEEEEELICIOUS margs down there!

24 08 2011
idiosyncraticeye

Hehe. I think I’ll just to stick to struggling up the stairs! Glad you’re OK, did think of you both when it came up on the news. :)

24 08 2011
Dawn

I would love to do a race. This is something that I need to put on my bucket list. I’m not much of a runner but I am sure with the correct training I can do it. Thanks for the links above. I will check out those sites.

26 08 2011
bubbaspurs

This looks interesting. It would have been fun to try it out.

26 08 2011
Mikalee Byerman

I’m WAY impressed…but I gotta say, I’m much more likely to drink copious margaritas with friends than do something so bold as to sign up for a race!

Great inspiration, though…think I’ll make that margarita date right now…
;)

26 08 2011
mrbricksworld

Actually you misunderstood what I said. I said I wanted to be a
“Tri-Otta-Eat” not a triathlete. Triottaeat is when you consume three different types of snack foods during the same sitting.

Example:
Pretzels (salty)
Snickers (Chocolate)
Wings (greasy)

great post, I only wish I could swim, bike and run.

Congrats on being Freshly Excercised, I mean freshly Pressed.

Mr Bricks

26 08 2011
DesiValentine

I did my first super-sprint tri this past spring, and it was a PHENOMENAL experience! My goal is to do a half-Olympic sprint next year :) The sport is addictive! Excellent post. I love the idea of a race holiday – “race recovery” redefined! I’ll be back to read about your non-training plan later on.

26 08 2011
ournote2self

This is not something I know I could ever accomplish…I’ll just live vicariously through you. ;)

26 08 2011
Nicole

Great post. I’ve always wanted to do this! I love running. I haven’t ran anything more than a 5k though. I enjoy biking as well! Thanks for sharing.

A 55% increase is really something awesome.

That earthquake was crazy! Exciting, too, since that stuff rarely happens on the east coast of the United States. Now to prepare for Hurricane Irene.

26 08 2011
PCC Advantage

I don’t want to be a triathlete…I just want to read blogs on how become one and then pretend that I am. Can I just live vicariously through you for a while? ;)

Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

26 08 2011
fornormalstepfathers

No.

Can I have a margarita, please? :-)

26 08 2011
stuie86

Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I got into tris last year and have one coming up next weekend! I love to hear about other triathletes.

26 08 2011
Eva McCane

i would love to do a triathalon…unfotunately, at this point, time doesn’t allow. but it is on my bucket list, and this blog was helpful in knowing how to get started! thanks for sharing!

26 08 2011
huffygirl

Wonderful tips. I would add for someone who is buying a bike anyway, go for a road bike rather than mountain, and as lightweight as is reasonable for you to afford. I don’t run or swim so I don’t do a full tri, but have enjoyed being the bike leg of a tri relay team, when I’m able to coerce someone to do the run and swim. Still lots of fun and great to have something to train for. Congrats on being FP’d – so much fun!

26 08 2011
Laura

Great post! Thanks for the advice, I’m planning on doing my first tri next summer. Too many running races this fall to focus on anything else :)

26 08 2011
Amanda

I am wanting to a Triathlon. Thanks for the advice. The only thing holding me back is my experience. I am starting off small…my first 5k is in a few weeks then I will work my way up! wee!

26 08 2011
anestinthemaking

I would love to do a triathalon at some point. My first goal is to work on my running. I want to run a marathon – but first I need to make it past the 5k! haha! But once I have ran a marathon I want to learn to ride a bike (or re-learn?) and then I want to compete in a traithalon! So some day, but what’s holding me back right now is trying to stay focused. I can’t do EVERY fun exciting idea that pops into my head or else I’d have to quit my job and possibly lose my house. My husband and son would probably be unhappy with that. haha! So for now I put off the traithalon training, knitting, cake decorating, photographing, and other fun things I want to do/learn and focus on the running, sewing, decorating, organizing, teaching things I do now!

Congratulations on being FP’d!

~Kristi

26 08 2011
GraceLynneFleming

very envious of these kinds of athletes.

26 08 2011
Eric

Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I hope to attempt a tri next summer (with a pool swim). I’ve also engaged in a convo on twitter about the endgame: competing in an Ironman. That will take a bit longer :)

27 08 2011
321delish

ooh an Ironman! I don’t know if there’s one in my future, but it certainly would be quite the feat!

26 08 2011
Travelling Writer

thank you for sharing. like the beach photos! :D

27 08 2011
321delish

Thanks!

26 08 2011
Chef Nusy

Congrats on FP! I find triathlon fascinating (I have a cousin-in-law who does tri, so does her husband), but it’s not for me. I love cycling, and even long ride (metric century or so), but I’m not much of a runner, and being hydrophobic as I am, I can’t swim a single stroke. :( So I guess I’ll just stick to my bike, work on that and go on a randoneering event…

27 08 2011
321delish

Swimming is a great way to workout, and its such a great skill to have. Have you tried taking lessons?

29 08 2011
Chef Nusy

Yeah… In the past 15 years, I haven’t even been able to get past going deeper than chest into water, least put my face in there. So I guess it’s just not for me. :)
But oh well, there’s still cycling, and if I manage to ever get back to it here in the backwoods, fencing… Now that’s another sport worth a lifetime!

26 08 2011
Ty

The timing is so right on this post. I just put entering a tri on my five-year plan. You’ve motivated me to make sure it is sooner than later. Great post!

27 08 2011
321delish

Good luck! It’s a great goal!

26 08 2011
Moire

Nice post – triathlon is growing like mad here in South East Asia, with great events in Thailand (Bangkok), Vietnam (Hoi An), Indonesia (Bintan), Singapore to name just a few places. This part of the world is great for such a sport… though it does get a bit hot on the run section :)

26 08 2011
Arjun Kapadiya

I am planning to do a triathalon, and i thought this was a cool read. Great insight and everything. :)

Cheers,
Arjun Kay

http://arjunsmind.wordpress.com/

26 08 2011
Evan

What if you can’t swim because your ears retain water? Because the aftermath of a subsurface swim is three hours of smacking the side of my head to drain the fluids in my ear canals.

That’s why I love running – it leaves you high and DRY.

27 08 2011
321delish

Have you ever used ear plugs? or ear drops that dry out the water?

26 08 2011
thiet ke noi that dep

Great posts! This is exciting.

26 08 2011
Triathlete Transformation | TOG Athlete & Fitness

[...] SO YOU WANNA BE A TRIATHLETE? [...]

27 08 2011
kvennarad

… or I could just hang out with triathletes, become a triathlon groupie. :)

Marie Marshall
writer/poet/editor/blogger
Scotland

27 08 2011
The Outlaw Mom

I have 24 days until I have to do an ocean swim in a relay and I am petrified! First, I have not worked out since May 2008 when I was in a triathlon and didn’t realize I was pregnant. Second, I have gained almost 40 lbs since then (thank you back-to-back babies and 24/7 office job). Please tell me there is something I can do to be able to survive this! Especially since I already did the fundraising and will look like the biggest jerk if I bail! Help help help :-)

27 08 2011
The Outlaw Mom

Forgot to say that I have never done an ocean swim and need tips on the basics! Thank you :-)

27 08 2011
321delish

Hey! Thanks for checking out the blog! How far is the swim? I think my first tip would be to get back in the water! Start swimming in a pool again, so you can get back into swimming shape. Then, grab a pal or look for some organized open water swims to get some practice. You don’t need to do the entire thing freestyle, so feel free to flip onto your back and backstroke or do a little breaststroke if you need to. When its race day, get into the water and warm up, get a feel for the current, so you know how to adjust your course. Look for tall buildings or landmarks to help you sight while you’re in the ocean. And, above all, stay calm! :-) You’re going to do great!

7 09 2011
The Outlaw Mom

Finally got back into the pool tonight. Only 13 days to do this. Hope fear propels me through the course! Thanks for the tips :-)

7 09 2011
321delish

That’s awesome! You can do it!

27 08 2011
Early AM Runner

I’m currently injured but have been considering a tri – this is inspiring. Thanks!

27 08 2011
fergyhun

Great tips. Congrats on being freshly pressed. I have my second tri coming up in two weeks. Did my first earlier in the year. I’m not a great runner or swimmer but I’ve always been pretty good on a bike and generally active. If you start off with an easier sprint distance, it’s definately achievable. I’ve met some very inspirational people who’ve overcome amazing illness and surgeries to compete. Think I’ll have to find myself some margarita drinking buddies though!

27 08 2011
djaggie

I just recently finished my first tri – I had such a great time and am eagerly looking forward to my next one. I just have to get this pesky first half marathon out of the way first! Love you site!

http://www.djbyars.wordpress.com

27 08 2011
MEly.

my dream is to complete a triathlon.

but first and foremost, I want to be able to run a marathon :D

27 08 2011
Jessica

I’m so going to try a tri! I’ve done marathons…but I think it’s time to add biking and swimming to the mix!

27 08 2011
321delish

yeah! Good luck!

27 08 2011
Cocoa Flower

Enjoyed the post. The information was very useful.

27 08 2011
bwbonanno

If I could, I would definitely do triathlons. They seem fun, not only to participate in but to train for. However, I am young. I’m still a teenager, and a young one at that. Are there any triathlons for kids?

27 08 2011
321delish

They do! I think the youngest age they allow is 14 in regular tris. And I think you could definitely do a super sprint. There are a few kids tris, often paired with an adult race. There’s a group in DC, Achieve that does a kids camp that ends with a tri for kids only. Check out Trifind.com and you can do a search for a kids tri. Hope that helps!

27 08 2011
Sandra

I was so motivated by my sister (who does tris) that I trained hard for a sprint triathlon (I was overweight), read “Slow, Fat Triathlete” (an AWESOME book), and signed up for my first triathlon in September 2008. If you’re a woman, do an all-women’s triathlon first. The less testosterone, the better. Seriously. Danskin has a wonderful series, plus there’s the new Olathe, KS, triathlon that’s awesome as well. Since then, I’ve been doing the Ironman Challenges at the gym (full ironman in a week–it’s a LOT, people, for non-triathletes!).
I got married in 2009, then did another spring again in 2010. This past year I was too busy helping with my dad’s Alzheimer’s disease (he died May 8, a devastating shitty disease). I hope to start up again for 2012–then do them yearly.
In the midwest/eastern plains, there are FEW triathlons. Doesn’t seem to have caught on here, yet. One a year in my hometown. I have to drive 3 hours to do a “real” one. So count your lucky stars if you live near a big city, and get out there and TRI!!!

27 08 2011
321delish

Thanks for the comment Sandra!
You know, I’ve never actually done an all-women’s tri. I think I like the satisfaction of beating men…oh, and they aren’t so bad on the eyes either!

I am really interested in that Ironman Challenges. Is this organized by your gym, or do you just do it yourself? I think that would be fun!

Sorry to hear about your dad too:(

27 08 2011
Sandra

Oh, and Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible is as good as it gets . . . and anything by Sally Edwards!

27 08 2011
321delish

I’ve heard VERY Good things about that book. I’m going to check it out!

27 08 2011
Sandi R.

Did a sprint tri in 2000 /45 years old, and another in 2002 /47 years old. Now after a long time, I want to do another one. I have gotten out of shape again, but my mind is in the right place. This is a great motivation reading everyone elses posts. I want to do the danskin tri in Orlando for Mother’s Day 2012 /56+ years old. Any advice? I will start to train after I recover from foot surgery next week.

27 08 2011
321delish

Wow! You rock! I think that’s awesome that you are still Tri-ing :-) I think I would definitely wait until you’re fully recovered- don’t want to reinjure!

Is that race a sprint or an Olympic? I think I’ start by training with your weakest discipline…and swimming and biking would be the best place to start too, since you’re recovering from foot surgery. You could also work on aquajogging, a low impact way to work yourself back into running shape!

Good luck!

27 08 2011
Sandi R.

Forgot about the half marathon in 2006. That was so much harder than the tri’s. I like the variety of the 3 events vs. one long one. The training for the half also did some damage on my feet and I am finally having surgery to correct that.

27 08 2011
Maria

Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and finishing! Tri events are TOUGH!

27 08 2011
Sandi R.

The Orlando Danskin is also Sprint. About all I can imagine completing at this time. Thanks for the the great advice. I will let things heal properly and then I will start out slow. Great Blog!

27 08 2011
rebecaelisa

Great post, I love triathlon and food….I am so glad I found your blog!

28 08 2011
Article on Health

the bikes rockes. looks good and nice.

28 08 2011
sana naz

nice posts . i love this kind of sites

28 08 2011
gaycarboys

all the luck in the world. I’m happy to watch. I have a feeling I’d only be holding people up LOL. Great shots. Thanks so much

28 08 2011
leadinglight

I wish I could swim, bike and run. But having feet without arches, I’m at a disadvantage on the running part.

28 08 2011
321delish

I’ve heard barefoot running/minimalist running is good for people with no arch. Have you tried that?

28 08 2011
thinkinthin11

Thanjks for motivating me! Next up: pick a date and do it.

28 08 2011
321delish

YEA!

28 08 2011
RO

The biking is what gets me. I’m an avid runner and I can swim just fine, yet I hate to cycle! I have always wanted to try a triathlon, but the cycling has kept me away all this time. Maybe I will just stick to marathons and continue to debate with myself over triathlons.

Excellent post for those wanting to get into the sport and great blog all around!

28 08 2011
Anastacia Gray

I’d want to start getting into running first and swimming kind of at the same time but part time. And then cycling just to work. I’ve been starting to do thinking like this in my daily life and I love the feeling and activity.

28 08 2011
burritofanatic

Good advice on the triathlon bit. In reality, there’s not too much you need to start doing triathlons!

28 08 2011
So You Wanna Be A Triathlete? « 321delish | Why Triathlon? Because…

[...] So You Wanna Be A Triathlete? « 321delish. [...]

28 08 2011
eekchan

nice, I’ve always wanted to be a triathlete, but my conditions do not permit me to do it, but reading your post make me feel like I have hope somehow, thanks a lot.

29 08 2011
Jens Wallrabe

Great Blog. Keep up the good work!

29 08 2011
HeatherH

I did a try-a-tri (very short!) in March. Currently ‘training’ for another one in October. 200m pool swim, 6km bike, 2km run. Looking forward to it… Highly addictive. I’m aiming to work up to an olympic length but over a few years. It’s taken me 35 years to find a sport I enjoy! Loved your post.

29 08 2011
321delish

I’m glad you’re getting into the sport! It’s a great one! Good luck in October!

29 08 2011
yves

Oooh! great basic info…hoping to join my 1st triathlon this year. *fingers crossed* (training ongoing). Thanks for reminders that no need to splurge on 1st races!

29 08 2011
321delish

Thanks! Good luck! And yes, no need to spend tons of $$$!!

29 08 2011
whatsaysyou

I can never be a triathlete but I always believe it takes lots of motivation and interest in challenge to make a person love being a triathelete.

29 08 2011
strengthinmoms

I love getting women interested in this sport! Just a reward at the finish line!

29 08 2011
Brent Darnell

I was just talking to my wife yesterday about triathlons. Great blog and great advice. Wish me luck!

29 08 2011
321delish

Go get em!

2 09 2011
jaideepdargan

Excellent tips, thanks for sharing!

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