How to Train for Your First Triathlon

There’s no doubt that since 1974 triathlons have come a long way – with only forty-six people competing in the first ever triathlon (swim, bike, and run the race). Today, more than 3.5 million participate in this thrilling event worldwide. Thus, if you’re craving a challenge and have decided to take part in this challenging, exciting, and addicting sport, know that you’ll be more than welcomed and supported by like-minded folks, even if it’s your first time.

For a first time triathlon runner, the challenge may certainly seem intimidating. However, there’s nothing you can’t achieve with some zealous training and hard work. If you’re wondering how to train for your first triathlon, remember, to get ready, you’ll need a well-planned training strategy that’ll enhance your performance in all three areas whilst also keeping you in the best possible health and shape.

Here’s everything you need to train and get prepped up for your first ever triathlon race:

Disclaimer: consult with a doctor before you begin triathlon training to ensure all is well. 

How to Train for Your First Triathlon


What You’ll Need

Here are all the must-have triathlon equipment’s and gears that you’ll need to train for your first triathlon run:

  • Appropriate clothes: wetsuit for the swimming part as well as comfortable clothing for biking and running.
  • Right running and biking shoes: ensure you consider the following to get the right running and biking shoes: your weight, your feet’s shape, biomechanics, the surface you’d be biking and running on.
  • Swimming equipment & gear: includes a swim cap, good-fit goggles, swim attire, towel.
  • Biking equipment & gear: includes a bike, helmet, cycling shorts for training, safety body pads, sunglasses.
  • Membership to a triathlon club:Joining a triathlon club can provide you the chance to train with experienced triathlon runners. It can help you receive valuable tips and training guidance directly from triathlon experts.

How to Train for Your First Triathlon Run

Once you have all the equipment you need for your first time triathlon training, here’s what you have to consider next:

Time Commitment

Depending on your existing fitness level, you’ll most probably need around eight to twelve weeks of unwavering triathlon training for a sprint or super sprint triathlon. If you work out already, then you can get ready for the race in as little as six weeks!

Every week, plan to train for four to six hours of total workout time for five days. Moreover, keep in mind that if you already have a substantial fitness level from cycling or running, any disciplines you’re not comfortable with would demand more time to build fitness and strength in.

Bonus tip: Always start with short, simple workouts to prevent injury.

Here’s our rough guide of how your training workout should be structured for the five sessions you must complete every week:

  • Two swim workouts
  • One combination workout
  • One run workout
  • One bike workout

Eventually, as you get more comfortable and efficient in a discipline, we recommend you add more combination workouts into your routine. Generally, the majority of people struggle with swimming, so if that’s you, make a make mental note right now that you’ll have to commit extra time to this discipline till you’re confident. All you need is patience and a lot of hard work!

Triathlon Training Tips

For Swim

For triathlon swim, you should first focus on mastering the freestyle stroke basics. Don’t worry about speed; instead, focus on a good form. Arm movement, kicking, breathing, and rotation should be the areas of your focus. Once you’re comfortable with the basic stroke, start doing specific swim-related workouts. Here’s a good one for beginners:

  • Float for a minute or two on your stomach/back.
  • Practice breathing technique by exhaling through your nose underwater for a minute or two.
  • Complete four to five sets of twenty-five meters with freestyle stroke.
  • Rest briefly and then do two-three sets of twenty-five meters with a focus on kicking with a kickboard (if you have one).
  • Rest again, and extend swim time with the aim to swim for fifty to a hundred meters without a break. Complete a set or two.
  • Finally, cool down with additional three to four sets of twenty-five meters.

For Bike

Remember, the more cycling you do, the more positively it’ll impact your swim and run by improving overall fitness. Though cycling isn’t as technique-driven as swimming, you must still learn essential pedaling techniques to cycle efficiently. Additionally, at the start, your focus should be on improving your aerobic fitness. For this, ride for forty-five minutes or an hour, one or two days every week, in the “aerobic heart-rate training” zone, which typically ranges between 130 to 155 heartbeats per minute.

For combination days, cycle for half an hour followed by a fifteen-minute run.

For Run

If you’re already a decent runner, you may assume that running is going to be the easiest part of a triathlon race. However, keep in mind that running a 5K isn’t the same as running a 5K after you’ve undergone a 20K bike and 750 meters of swimming sprints. Hence, do most of your triathlon run training as a combination workout. For example, run for fifteen to twenty minutes after you’ve finished one of your swim/bike workouts.

Similarly, if you’re crossing over from other disciplines (bicycling or swimming), focus on improving your running. An excellent way to build your running fitness is to switch between walking and running, e.g., jog for five minutes followed by a minute of walking. Initially, your total workout duration should be at least twenty minutes. With time, increase run time to ten minutes with a minute of walking. The total workout duration should be thirty minutes. Your ultimate aim should be to run for thirty minutes without any stops.

Our Final Thoughts

With the right equipment and a planned triathlon training plan, there’s nothing to do except get started. And there’s no better time to start than now! We hope this guide helped you to learn how to train for your first triathlon race.

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