Here is a write-up that TriLAB Christine wrote for an online magazine, Made Woman Magazine. If you or a friend is thinking about trying a triathlon this year, this article breaks it down.
More and more people are doing it. You probably have a few friends who have finished at least one. I’m talking about triathlons, the growing sport that has you swimming, biking, and running in one race effort. Triathlons, you’ve heard, are for the crazy and uber-athletic so you stayed away. Then you wondered, “how did that guy go and do one…and finish?”
Here’s the true story. Triathlons, like fun runs, have different course lengths: sprint, Olympic distance, 70.3 (also known as the branded half Ironman), long course, Ironman, and ultra. A sprint consists of not more than the following mileage: .5 mile swim, 17 mile bike, and 4 mile run. The Olympic distance triathlon is (you guessed it) the distance that is completed in the Olympics, so it’s metric: 1.5 kilometer swim, 40 k bike, and 10 k run. Ironman, which gets all the glory, is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. The 70.3—the number of miles you finish—is half of each leg of Ironman. Long course is the name given to the race that has any variation of distances between 70.3 and Ironman. And, ultras are any distance longer (yes, longer) than Ironman. Now, you know the basics of triathlon distances, and may safely decide whether or not you want to put a triathlon on your list of things to do before the end of 2012.
The sprint distance triathlon is kinda like the gateway race to the sport. It is a lifestyle sport, including cross-training in the training schedule, so many participants will find themselves “addicted” to it after crossing their first finish line. Like many addictions, it may take a lot of the dollars out of your wallet. I think that’s why it’s quickly taking executives off the golf greens, and putting them into spandex and lycra swimsuits, cycling kits (that’s what those matching padded shorts with jersey are called), and running tanks and shorts.
You might not be convinced to try it yet, so let me break it down—how to do this without breaking yourself or your bank.
- Pick a local sprint distance race and sign up for it. Give yourself a minimum of twelve weeks to train for your first race.
- Find a friend to do the race with. Everything is more fun with a friend, and you’ll have a training partner. You might be able to find a local triathlon club that you may join, gather support from, and train with.
- Get the gear. For your first triathlon, consider borrowing big ticket items like a swimming wetsuit (if the water you will be swimming in is colder than 78.1 degrees, you may use one—it keeps you warm and keeps you more buoyant, making the swim effort less consuming) and a bike. The one most crucial article you must get for yourself that you likely don’t already have, in my opinion, is a pair of tri shorts. The other accessories you need to have are running shoes, bike helmet, swim goggles and swim cap. (In case you want all of your own new stuff, we have a “starter kit” that comes with all of the above and a few extras for just under a $1k.)
- Get on a training schedule. Finding a coach is highly advisable, but if that’s not an option, there are books and fitness magazines that have training schedules based on your fitness level and the distance that you will be completing.
- Don’t take it too seriously. Have fun. Remember you are doing it to finish, not to make a living at it. (Although, you may discover that you have the talent to make money racing, as you go along.)
Those are the super simple, down and dirty, basics of getting to the finish of your first triathlon. You’ll pick up a few more tips along the way, from said triathlon club(s), book(s), and magazine(s). So, what are you waiting for? Get to it!