One of the most frequent questions I get asked is:
“I’ve just signed up for my first triathlon, any tips?”
“Jack, I’m doing a triathlon, help”
So below I’ve compiled my top 5 tips for any new starter.
Whether you’re doing an ironman or a sprint distance, I’m sure these will help you in your quest.
I’m by no means an expert myself, having only started in the sport a little over two years ago, I’m still very much a novice. Learning a whole set of new tricks race to race, but I’m slowly getting there. So here’s my best advice for you all to complete that new years resolution.
1. Get the right gear.
Now this is a very important one. No i’m not talking about spraying £5k+ at a bike, or £150 on running shoes that don’t fit your feet properly, or getting so much swim gear you make Michael Phelps look ill-prepared.
I’m talking about getting a solid bike, that fits. Go to a shop, chat to the workers. Chat to your friends that cycle. Anyone that knows anything about cycling, they’ll be able to help you buy a steady bike, that gets you from A to B in a solid time.
Yes, some bikes are faster than others.
And yes, some are a lot more expensive, but really, unless you’re attacking top end times, it doesn’t make a world of difference.
I’ve got a £350 Pinnacle Dolomite 1, Evans Cycles bottom of the range bike. And I can keep up with almost any chaingang on it, it really goes!
Your legs are worth more than any bike can buy.
Now once you’ve got your bike, get it measured and fitted, this will make sure you’re comfortable and not setting yourself up from a fail from the get go.
Cycling or padded shorts are a very helpful purchase, you only need to spend £20/30 to save your behind from getting very sore! I don’t mean super tight lycra, any mountain bike shorts will do the trick.
(Heathen, sorry roadies!!!)
The second most important thing is running shoes. Again, go to a running shop, get on a treadmill and get a good pair that fit your running style. They’re there to help you, it’s their job, their lifestyle, they know what’s what.
This is literally one of the best bits of advice anyone can give you. Running is where you will pick up all of your injuries.
Trust me, you’re chatting to the injury veteran.
In my triathlon career I’ve spent more time on the bench and in the phsyio than running, so these are a fantastic investment. A good pair of socks will also go a long way to keep the blisters at bay.
Then get yourself a comfortable pair of goggles, and you’re ready to take on the world!
Stay warm through winter, don’t over dress through summer and you’ll be sure to have a smile on your face come race day.
2. Don’t get injured.
Now this sounds trivial. Duhhhh. Don’t get injured, how hard can it be?!
Well, it’s tricker than you think. There are a few simple ways to keep the injuries down and the training up.
Firstly, don’t do too much too soon. I know you’ll think you’re superman now you’ve put down the beers for electrolyte drinks. But don’t let yourself get carried away.
Listen to your body, and take it one step at a time. Don’t run before you can walk, so to speak.
Next, make sure you stretch before or after training. This helps keep your muscles loose and reduces the likelihood of injury.
And lastly, if it hurts, stop.
The extra 3k is never worth 4 weeks off.
After all, recovery is 50% of training, if you don’t recover, you don’t get faster!
3. Play to your strengths.
This is one of the most common mistakes in triathlon. Most people start triathlon because they are strong in one of the disciplines but wanna branch out and try something new.
But don’t neglect that discipline.
If I use myself as an example, most people will know that I’m a cyclist, that’s what I do.
And yes, I’m focussing very hard on my swim and run at the moment, to try and catch up.
That doesn’t mean I don’t cycle. Keeping my cycling legs on top form gives me edge in that part of the race, giving me a bit more space to breathe in the other two. If you’re good at it, use it.
Also that makes you more likely to enjoy it, so do what you enjoy!! It’ll help, I promise.
4. Practice racing.
This is one you read in almost any internet post about starting triathlon. Don’t try anything new on race day, it could ruin your race!
From equipment, to nutrition to pacing. If you’ve not practiced it, don’t try it.
When you get to race day, you want it to be monotonous. Enter auto-pilot and enjoy the day. Soak in the atmosphere.
Not spend your race worrying about what’s gonna happen next!
Train with the right nutrition, walk through your transitions and make sure you cover every eventuality.
Especially how to fix a puncture!
Nobody wants to end a race over something trivial that could have been covered at home the week before.
5. Eat your greens.
Now this will make a lot of you laugh.
Eat your greens?
Yes, yes i’m very serious.
Everyone rages on about protein shakes, carbs, high calories. Arguably you don’t need any of these.
Yes, recover and fuel yourself properly.
Yes, take food on your rides, actual food, not greens.
But the micro-nutrients vegetables offer you can do things for your muscles that you never even imagined. Spinach, pineapple, cherry juice, beetroot the list goes on
Ok, ok, I know they’re not green.
But the point still stands, fruit and veg will make you feel fresh and clean, you’ll know when you’ve tried it. Not stodgy like the morning after a takeaway. You won’t regret it, and it’s guilt free calories, the unrefined sugars will make you struggle to put weight on!
There are obviously plenty of other things to consider when starting a triathlon. But if you keep yourself healthy & recovered through your new programme. As well as happy and fuelled, I’m sure you’ll do well.
I look forward to racing some of you this year.
I promise you’ll enjoy it, although your legs might not!!!