14 Dec Three essentials you must know before your first sprint triathlon
In the last couple of weeks we have spent time talking about the beginnings of triathlon. When Ironman hits town, it is inevitable that people are inspired and often think “maybe it’s my time”, or “if they can, so could I”. Looking back at when I started triathlon 6 years ago, there seemed an insurmountable amount of unknowns and questions that I had. Luckily I had Wendy, a very experienced and super helpful triathlete who patiently talked me through my first triathlon.
It was a steep learning curve, and one that has taken me from that nervous beginner who had never ridden a bike, through to 3 Ironmans and 9 Half Ironmans (including the World Championships for both) and countless shorter races in between. Needless to say I have learnt so much in that time, and as new athletes come into our squad I find there are three essential things that help them get started, just as they did for me. Here are the things that worked for me on my triathlon journey:
1. The swim start is intense, but don’t let it put you off starting a triathlon –
The swim start is without a doubt the biggest road block that people face when thinking about doing a triathlon. Everyone has their ‘thing’… whether it’s a fear of rough ocean conditions, getting knocked about in the water by other swimmers, not finding ‘space’ and panicking, sharks… and plenty more. The good news is that there is a strategy for all of these, but our number one tip? Breathe, smile, and breathe some more. Breathing deeply before the race (in through the nose, out through the mouth) will lower your heart rate and calm your nerves. Then put a huge smile on your face, and it’s hard to stay stressed. We have plenty more specific help for what to do when you’re actually in the water in our couch-to-sprint triathlon challenge starting on Monday.
2. If you can run for 5 minutes, you will be able to complete a sprint triathlon-
As beginners we think we have to able to run non-stop, and then worry when we can’t do that for very long (how will I ever finish, or possibly run after cycling 20km!?!) Planning walk breaks is the perfect way to increase your running fitness without getting injured or burnt out. The most important thing here is consistency, and the fitness will follow.
3. Anyone can learn to ride a bike – seriously!
This is one sport where age or previous experience is irrelevant. The non-weight bearing aspect of cycling means that you can go for longer and it’s easier on your joints, and it is also fantastic for cardio fitness. However, beginners can often stand out in a race (a lot!) due to the gear they chose, the way they sit on their bike, and even the way they pedal (yep – there is a technique, it is super simple and we can share it will you in our Couch-To-Sprint Challenge).
These are the three things that really stood out for me as I started out in triathlon, and if beginners can get their head around these elements then the confidence to get underway comes more quickly (and the fitness and increased energy follows).
I would love it if you could join me as we delve into more detail on all the important stuff you need to complete your first triathlon!