How to Prepare for a Triathlon

We’re all looking for challenges in our lives. Some of us more than others, naturally. Maybe you’re looking to push your body to its physical limits. Maybe you feel the monotony of the old grind creeping up on you. There are those among us who decide to traverse the world’s highest peaks to fulfill these needs. But of course, that’s not for everyone. Why not the next best thing? Something more readily available and easily accessible is participating in a triathlon.

Of course, as far as dinner party humble-brags are concerned, it won’t top scaling a mountain. What it will do is get your blood pumping, make you feel alive again, and restore your thirst for physical excellence. To this end, it is best not to jump straight into the first event you see. You should first train for it. If you’re wondering how to prepare for a triathlon, let this article be your guide.

Things You’ll Need

Before you can begin preparing for the triathlon, you will need certain things ready to go. These are:

How to Prepare for a Triathlon
  • A pair of swim goggles with good deal
  • A reliable and comfortable swim cap
  • A wetsuit (optional, more on this later)
  • A bicycle, based in your budget
  • A pair of durable and comfortable running shoes

Before We Begin

Apart from the actual equipment, you will also need to keep in mind the various types of triathlons. Your training will naturally depend on your targets. If you prepare for a shorter triathlon but register for one that is more rigorous, you may not be able to finish it. Triathlon athletes spend 1/5th of the time swimming, ½ the time biking and a third of the total event running. The types of triathlons are as follows:

1. Sprint Triathlon

This is the shortest option available and best suited to beginners. You will swim for half a mile, bike for twelve and a half, and run for about 3 miles.

2. Olympic Triathlon

This type requires a mile of swimming, 25 miles of biking, and 6 miles of running.

3. Double Olympic Triathlon

This variety, as the name suggests, doubles the amount for each category. So, about 2 miles of swimming, 49 miles of biking, and 12.5 miles of running.

4. Half-Ironman Triathlon

Swim for a mile, then bike for 56, and run for 13 miles to finish it all.

5. Ironman

Again, just double the figures. 2-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, followed by a 26-mile run.

Steps to Prepare for Triathlon

Here’s a quick guide on how to prepare for a triathlon.

1. Planning is Key

We previously mentioned the types of triathlons. The purpose of doing so is that all your planning hinges on the kind of event you sign up for. The other factor in the calculations will be your current fitness level. If you’re already into sports, setting a higher target with shorter time for preparation can work.

However, if you are fond of Netflix, spend most of your time relaxing, and lead a fairly inactive lifestyle, you should be careful not to over exert yourself. In such cases, it is best to start small and slowly increase the workload. You should also give yourself ample time to incorporate this.

You should also consider time that will be spent learning how to bike or swim, if you don’t know how to do so. Here is a breakdown of the average amount of time you should plan for training, based on your fitness level:

  • Complete beginner, low fitness: 16-20 weeks
  • Fairly familiar with equipment and swimming, moderate fitness: 12-16 weeks
  • Regularly swim and use equipment, high fitness: 8-10 weeks

2. Learning the Ropes

If you’re unfamiliar with biking or swimming, you’ll need to learn how to do so as soon as possible. Most first-time triathletes struggle the most with swimming. Swimming requires coordinating your breath and stroke for maximum efficiency. If you are inefficient in this aspect, you’ll tire yourself out faster. It is highly recommended that you find an instructor for this task.

During the triathlon, most of your time will be spent biking. It is, therefore, important that you learn how to bike if you don’t already know. You will need to purchase a bike. The rules don’t require a specific type, so you can look for something that you can afford and operate comfortably. Make sure it’s in good condition though.

3. Design a Schedule

Whether it’s preparing for a triathlon or simply getting things done, discipline is key. You want to take motivation from any athletes that inspire you and take a look at their work ethic. The most progress is made off-camera, so make sure you design a schedule that incorporates all elements of the event, and then stick to it.

The schedule should distribute your workload in a way that’s similar to the event itself. We already know that you will spend time swimming, running, and biking. You should plan your workout in this order to ensure that your mind and body are prepared for the main event.

Since you’ll be training in smaller samples of the main event, you need to progressively increase the workload. This will make sure that you make progress and develop the capacity for the full-load that the event will demand.

Here’s a template:

  • Day 1: 30-minute swim, 15-minute run.
  • Day 2: 30-minute bike session, 30-minute run
  • Day 3: 45-minute swim, 30-minute ride
  • Day 4: 45-minute ride, 45-minute run
  • Day 5: Rest

4. Incorporate Rest

Whenever conducting physical training of any kind, it is important to rest in between. Rest should not be looked down upon. It helps maintain the progress you’ve made, while also protecting you from injury. You’ll notice that even in our template, we’ve included a rest-day. So, don’t worry about taking a day off. It’s actually good for you.

Our Final Thoughts

A triathlon is a rigorous test of physical and mental endurance. If the confusions regarding how to prepare for a triathlon have been keeping you from testing yourself out, we hope this brief guide helps you break that barrier.

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