5 tips for surviving your first season in triathlon
Consider hiring a coach. Even if it’s just someone who can help you, remotely, to plan a training programme and answer any questions you have (there will be many) as and when they come up.
Build distances slowly. Many of those drawn to triathlon tend to be all or nothing people. But the all approach, when it comes to picking distances, will usually lead to injury or burnout. Don’t aim for Ironman in your first season unless you’ve got a very good reason! There’s a real misconception that the longer the event the tougher it is. Bear in mind that a sprint distance triathlon is more like a half marathon than an actual sprint and requires you (if you’re doing it properly) to go at full blast for anywhere between 75-115 minutes.
Run less, swim more. The carry-over from swimming to running is a fabulous tool for preventing injury whilst maintaining fitness levels. Keep your runs fast and furious (interval training) where possible and if you want to add distance, do so in the swimming pool where you can really thrash it, impact-free.
“Remember to smell the roses.” I’ll be honest. This isn’t a phrase I coined in relation to triathlon – it was a female Ironman who told me she reminds herself before every race. Put simply: aside from lung-busting workouts and jelly legs, triathlon is about enjoyment and experience. Try not to become so focussed on pushing, pushing, pushing, that you forget, come race day, to look around and appreciate it all.
Spend on a wetsuit, scrimp on data: Trust me, saving money on your neoprene is a false economy if ever I saw (felt and swam through) one. Your wetsuit should feel like a second skin, last for many years and not restrict shoulder mobility and make you look like Michelin Man. If you want to save money, avoid fancy gadgets in your first season. Getting technical too soon will only stress you out.