New to triathlon?

Want to challenge yourself to take on a triathlon?

Have no idea where to start?

Here you can find some useful information on what to do, where to go and what you need.

Doctors check-up – If you have no sporting experience of used to participate in sport and haven’t for a while it’s worth getting checked by you doctor to make sure everything is ok. There’s no point signing up for an ironman event after rolling in a 3am from the pub and finding out you wont be able to compete.

Get some running shoes for you You should also go to a proper running shop and have them asses your gait, don’t worry if you haven’t done much running. They will find you the best pair of shoes for how you run. This is important and the best investment you could make. Shoes that are suitable for you will help to prevent you getting injured and they will help protect your joints

Taking your first steps into triathlon

  • Can you run? No? Then the best thing to do is a Couch to 5km programme. Once you can do this then find out your local Parkrun and make this your goal each week.
  • Can you run? Yes – Then the next step is to decide on a goal, this will affect what you do next. You could sign up to a 10km run, you could join a running or triathlon club. The important thing is to take things at your pace. There is a world of advice out there about running but your local running or triathlon club will have coaches and people to talk to and are fairly cheap to join.
  • Can you swim? No? Then learn to swim. It might be best getting a few lessons to get you started. Find your local pool or join a gym where there is a decent pool and aim to do 2 swims a week, this will build your swim stamina.
  • Can you swim ? Yes – then you need to decide on a goal, to get faster, to become more efficient, maybe to try open water. The choice is up to you but again a local triathlon club will have coached pool sessions which can help you to improve. Once you can do 50m without stopping, come down to one of our club sessions where we can help you develop your front crawl.
  • Can you ride a bike? No? Then you need to learn. You could try a local cycling club for ideas of where to learn or, you could buy a bike and helmet from a reputable shop who will be able to offer you advice of the size and type you need then go to somewhere where there is grass and start by balancing on the seat and pushing yourself forward with your feet and use the brakes to slow you down. Once you can glide like this, then try and put your feet on your pedals and push forward with them, this will help you to progress to cycling. British Cycling have lots of beginner style rides if this helps.
  • Can you ride a bike? Yes – Then the next step is to decide on a goal. You could join a local cycling or triathlon club who have a social ride-out once a week. Don’t fall into the trap of buying expensive kit only to go falling off at the next set of traffic lights, cycling isn’t expensive, there are plenty of bargains to have out there. Once you can maintain 15mph for around an hour come down to one of our cycling sessions and join in for a no drop ride on a Wednesday evening.

KIT – If you want to do a triathlon you will need

– A roadworthy bike, it doesn’t matter what type of bike it is but it must be safe. Second hand bikes are usually a good purchase for starting out.

– A helmet that fits well, it should cover your head and not wobble about. You shouldn’t be able to fit a bobble hat under it and the chin strap should be tight. DO NOT buy a helmet second hand, always buy them new, you wont know how safe second helmets are. Always look for the EU safety mark inside, it’s an E inside a circle, don’t buy a helmet where this is missing, it might not be safe to use.

– Kit to run and bike in. This could be a tri-suit, nowadays they can be picked up quite cheap new from places like Planet X or Decathlon or ebay. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your first one but it is worth getting the fit right so try it on before you commit to buying it. (You don’t NEED to wear underwear underneath but ladies it might be advisable to wear a sports bar to make you feel more comfortable especially if you are generously proportioned.)

TOP TIP – When trying on your trisuit, bend over in-front of a mirror and make sure your backside isn’t on show because the suit is too see-through.

– Kit to swim in, this could be a trisuit. However you could wear a swimming costume for the swim and then add a t-shirt and shorts when in transition to ride your bike and then run in. You should also wear goggles so you can see in the swim.

TOP TIP – You CANNOT be fully naked or part naked in transition, even with a towel around you so this means you cannot change out of your wet swimming costume into dry clothes.

– Footwear to cycle and / or run in. You could go out and spend loads of money on the latest trainers and cycling shoes or, you could do what most people do for their first triathlon and wear their normal running shoes for the bike and the run. If you have cycling shoes either you could attached them to the bike and you could do an amazing flying mount onto your bike or, you could do what I do and put your bike shoes on in transition and then carefully jog to the mount line.

(Disclaimer – we accept no responsibility for any accidents, injuries, incidents or losses however severe which occur if you run, jog or don’t take care whilst wearing cycling shoes)

Your first triathlon

So when should you do your first event? Some people enter an event and then train for it, others undertake triathlon training and then enter an event when they are ready.

TOP TIP – Your first triathlon should be short and local to you. There’s no point in signing up to a half ironman distance in Wales if you live in East Anglia. Keep it simple such as a Super Sprint or Sprint distance and keep it local. Lots of local authority’s and triathlon clubs have their own events each year so you should be able to do one fairly close to home.

Once you’ve signed up for you first tri – know the rules, generally these start in transition but here is an overview of the British Triathlon rules.

  • If the swim is in a pool, as opposed to an open water swim, you may need to count your own lengths.
  • You cannot ride your bike in Transition
  • You must have your helmet and fastened on before you touch your bike and, still have your helmet on and fastened until you have racked your bike.
  • You cannot draft anyone on the bike. You must stay a certain distance behind someone, you cannot ride directly behind anyone even though they may have just overtaken you.
  • You cannot be naked at any point in transition.
  • You must not drop litter at any point except in designated areas
  • You must adhere to the highway code, that means stopping at red lights, stopping at pelican crossings etc

This may seem a lot to remember but if you have a little practice run-through of how you go from swim to bike and then from bike to run you will feel more comfortable.