Last year, at the encouragement of my partner Jen, I decided to register for an Olympic Distance triathlon….without ever having done a sprint in my life. I quickly freaked out but put my anxiety into action by creating a training plan with my team. I raced in 3 sprintdistance triathlons, and the Olympic distance in September. It was the hardest but MOST REWARDING training of my life. I have been forever changed as an athlete. My perspective has grown, my patience with my body has increased, and my running skill actually improved! By changing my training from something strictly running based (like the half marathon I did the fall before), I trained in 3 sports and reduced my overall injury tremendously.
If you have been itching to try something new with your fitness, I urge you to “give it a tri”! A sprint distance triathlon is perfect for someone at the novice level, who commits to an 8-week training program to prepare. Below are some FAQ’s about getting into multisport racing, and the answers I have based on my research and experience.
Q: Do I need a triathlon bike to participate?
A: For a sprint distance race, you do not need a fancy-schmancy bike. People complete sprint tri’s with all sorts of bikes- road bikes, hybrids, and I’ve even seen a few mountain bikes out there. Typically, you won’t be biking more than 12 miles, so it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t have the creme de la creme!
Q: Do I need to buy a wetsuit?
A: Depending on when and where you race, you may not need a wetsuit. If you do, they are available for 1 day rental! Check the rules/regulations for the specific event you’re registering for, and it should let you know if a wetsuit is required.
Q: I can’t swim!.. (or, I cant swim very well)… How do I get better??
A: Practice, practice, practice. Swimming was my least strong event, and I was lucky enough to have a Coach who guided me through it all, from the first day in the water to the big showdown. She even politely answered my first question of “Do I have to put my face in the water??” with a “Yes” and a smile. If you do not have a swim Coach, you can find one easily at your local YMCA. There are plenty of lessons available at public pools as well.
Q: How much swimming/biking/running do I need to do in my training?
A: Triathlon training programs are very sport-specific and focus on building the athlete’s power and endurance. On race day, you need to be able to complete all three events IN SUCCESSION. Those last 2 words are key. Your training program will include lots of “bricks”, where you’ll do one activity after another. This helps build endurance. Any good tri training program will also include resistance training. This part is crucial for maintaining strength for your event.
Q: Where do I find a triathlon training program?
A: Unlike road race training programs, triathlon training programs are rarely found free online. This is because they are so specific to the athlete, the distance of the event, the course, and the time of the event. They are often custom-written to take all of these variables into consideration. If you are contemplating doing a triathlon and need assistance with a program, contact: email@example.com
Q: I’d like to do 1 event, but not all 3. Can I have teammates?
A: Yes, most races allow for team registration. This allows 3 people to split the event into single sports; one per person. The team completes the event together, and records a cumulative time. Check your event’s registration page for details.
If you’re seeking a new fitness goal, or want something new to achieve this spring/summer, GIVE IT A TRI!!!! As an avid runner who never thought she’d veer off the pavement, I can tell you that it is just as fun and even more rewarding. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to learn more about triathlons and the training process! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org