How To Train For A Triathlon

You have decided to brave it out in a Triathlon event, but it requires so much more mental strength than a marathon. Here is how to train for a triathlon. Firstly, you must decide on what distance you want to cover.

Triathlon Event: Super Sprint. Distance: 400 m Swim, 10 km Cycle, 5 km Run. About: This fun triathlon event will help you become accustomed to the swim, bike, and run routine, which can hit the legs hard. The swim is often based in a pool.

Triathlon Event: Sprint. Distance: 750 m Swim, 20 km Cycle, 5 km Run. About: The swim may be pool based, or in open water. The sprint triathlon has age groups for specific national and world championships.

Triathlon Event: Olympic Distance. Distance: 1.5 km Swim, 40 km Cycle, 10 km Run. About: Most individuals train for an Olympic distance triathlon. The London Triathlon is an example, and includes a swim in open water, a bike ride down the Embankment to Big Ben, and a 10 km run.

Triathlon Event: Half Ironman. Distance: 1.9 km swim, 90 km Cycle, 21.1 km Run. About: If you have completed the Olympic Distance Triathlon, the Half Ironman should be achievable for any triathlete.

Triathlon Event: Ironman. Distance: 3.8 km Swim, 80 km Cycle, 42.2 Run. About: Invented in Hawaii, the Ironman is the ultimate test for a triathlete. It is very tough, and you often have to qualify to take part, but any age group is open to the challenge.

Triathlon Event: Decatriathlon. Distance: 38 km Swim, 800 km Cycle, 422 km Run. About: Unbelievably, some people take on the Decatriathlon, which is the Ironman distance x 10.

Choose Your Event

If you’ve only run a half or full marathon and want to get your body used to the three events, try a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. The distances are achievable, and the training beforehand will help you become used to the change overs from swim to bike to run. Swimming uses the muscles of the legs, buttocks, chest, arms, and shoulders, so the cycling distance requires leg strength. What is even harder after the cycle event is hopping off the bike to run. This will challenge your body, so it’s important to fuel the body with a high carbohydrate and protein rich meal a good twenty-fours hours before the event. Eat high-energy foods like jelly babies during the bike ride and run to stop the legs from turning to jelly. Alternatively, energy gels are perfect as an instant sugar fix to boost your endurance.

Train For The Swim

Depending on how many triathletes are competing in your chosen event, it’s important to remain confident and avoid panic if you do not have a clear vision because other triathletes are in your way during the first stage of the swim. Practice good form in your local pool, and focus on a positive mental image throughout your training so you can carry this through with you to the main event. Good form will ensure you finish at a faster time.

Kit required: A tri suit will last you through the entire event, and a wet suit can easily be worn over the tri suit. Wet suits can often be rented, together with goggles, which allow for superior peripheral vision; these are also helpful in a lake where there is nothing to guide you.

Train For The Cycle

The transition from swim to cycle will boost your overall time. Wear a tri suit for the event. This will keep you dry throughout the event, plus it feels comfortable on the saddle. Flapping clothing is not ideal for the cycling event of a triathlon. Practice on the open road, and become familiar with the gears. After the swim, the legs must become used to the new event, so cycle at a low gear. If you can get used to clip pedals, these will work well during the cycle event, and allow you to build calf strength and speed.

Use higher gears on flat surfaces and the faster sections of the course, and switch back to a low gear spin before your run. Build leg strength by using a middle to higher gear uphill. Always set yourself targets in the distance. Once you meet those targets, take a drink or energy gel. Dehydration can be detrimental to an event such as a triathlon, so drink thoroughly every fifteen minutes.

Kit required: A light but strong road bike with clip pedals, if preferred. Place the cycle shoes onto your bike so you can make a quick transition from swim to cycle. A road bike builds incredible speed rapidly. Also, invest in an energy gel belt so you can quickly grab your sachets when you are running low on energy.

Train For The Run

After a long cycle ride, the legs will turn to jelly during the transition from cycle to run. This mental pain will have to be worked through during the training process more than the main event. Slip into your running shoes and run gently to get the blood circulating through the legs. Why do the legs turn to jelly? Cycling does not use the same leg muscles as running, which is what causes the discomfort for several minutes.

Kit required: A good pair of running shoes with elastic laces saves time. Plus lots and lots of mental strength!

Train with Brick Sessions

The more training you can put into the transition from cycle to run, the easier it will feel during the main event. Cycle a couple of kilometers on a bike, and then jump into a run straightaway. The more times you try this, the easier your legs will become accustomed to the weird feeling that jumping off the bike and running creates. Top triathletes often mix hard cycling for twenty minutes with hard running for ten minutes three to four times during a workout.

Use Positive Mantras

Throughout the triathlon event, you are going to feel drained of energy, but mental strength will keep you going. When you know how to train for a triathlon, you can take advice from top class athletes who use mantras all the time, and it certainly pushes their mindset to a high level of achievement. Try mantras like, “This feels good,” “No pain,” or even, “I love pain.”


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