So, you’ve decided to step up and take on your first triathlon. It can be a big step in any athlete’s life, whatever their experience level, ability, and age. Completing a triathlon of any distance is a respected feat and a major feather in any cap, not to mention serious inspiration to push yourself even further. But, before you leap into the thick of it, Born To Train have compiled a few considerations you should take into account when choosing your first triathlon.
Formally recognised triathlons range from the sprint distance up to the mighty ironman and far beyond. So, which gauntlet will you be taking up? Firstly, don’t be afraid to aim high, as you will be surprised what you can achieve with a little grit and determination. Having said that, you won’t be wanting to leap straight off the sofa and into a half ironman.
As a rule, exercise newbies or those who may not be in the greatest of shape should consider the sprint triathlon. This should be enough to provide a good challenge, without risking injury or even failure. Those who have a good level of fitness and proficiency in all three disciplines would be wise to consider the most recognised of triathlons, the Olympic distance. Of course, there will be those of you who are already ultra fit but have simply never taken the challenge before. You guys know your bodies, and may well be eager to aim higher.
Another factor is time. How much time do you have to spare for training? To give you an idea, preparation for an ironman triathlon will require something like 15-20 hours per week. If you don’t have that spare time in your life right now, you may be wise to opt for a shorter distance and go for a blistering time instead.
Training for three vastly different disciplines requires a fair amount of equipment. While you can kit yourself out without totally breaking the bank, when it comes to this sort of apparatus you really do get what you pay for. For the shorter distances you can get by with minimal expenditure. It will be the bike that costs the most, but simple hacks like clip on aero bars can suffice. However, if you’re expecting to be on the go for a dozen hours or more, finishing with a skeleton juddering marathon, you really need the gear, not just for comfort, but to prevent injuries and shave chunks from your time.
Choosing the correct route for you is also important. For instance, if you’re carrying old knee injuries, a flatter course would probably better suit your needs. If you will rely on support, factor this into your decision. Not all courses are completely spectator friendly, either out on the road or at the finish line.
Your training should obviously incorporate all three disciplines on a regular basis, but if you have a weak point it should be pushed to the top of the pile. Your chosen distance will play a huge part in your individual training programme. As a general rule you should begin by training beneath your expected race intensity, and work towards covering longer distances, before honing into some serious race prep.
Know your course as well as possible. For instance, if it’s a hilly course, work on your hill climbing and descending; work out your best bike position, gearing, and running techniques to cover ground fastest without throwing energy away. Similarly, if you know hills don’t bring out the best in you, or that adverse weather conditions can hamper your mood, pick a course that will suit you and hopefully still see you smiling at the line.
Eat clean and eat smart. Little and often is the key to keeping your body well fuelled and your metabolism high. It’s all about complex carbs, top quality protein and good fats. Make the most of the state of the art sports supplements available, but be careful not to be sucked in by false claims and gimmicks. If you’ve decided to take on a longer distance, in-race nutrition will be vital. Play with different supplements and foodstuffs to ensure they work for you and don’t leave you bogged down or worse.
Born To Train can help you achieve your personal triathlon goals by creating an appropriate training and nutrition plan. Contact Born To Train today to arrange your personal consultation.