Beginner Triathlon Training: Everything You Need to Know Before Your First Triathlon


Looking to signal up for your very first triathlon? We share every little thing you will need to know about rookie triathlon instruction and racing—from gear essentials and nourishment fundamental principles to mental prep and recommendations for choosing a coach—to aid you have a prosperous very first triathlon. This write-up was composed by Holly Bennett, with contributions from the Triathlete editors.

Related: Tri one hundred and one from Triathlete Magazine

What Are Your Newbie Triathlon Instruction and Racing Objectives?

As portion of your intro to the activity, look at why you’re taking up triathlon to start off with and what you hope to acquire from the rookie triathlon instruction encounter. Are you determined purely by the want to have exciting and expand your social circle? Are you on the lookout for a physical fitness kick in the pants to fight the bulge of middle age? Have been you impressed by media coverage of a seemingly unattainable pursuit? Are you an athletic type now, aiming to be a really serious contender? What ever your reasons at the begin, formulating your goals and priorities will aid you system a race season very best suited to your desires and strengths.

As you peruse race calendars on the lookout for essential activities, look at a selection of variables and options. Neighborhood races are probably to be packed with friends and household for these who thrive on race-day support, although place travel races can be a exclusive and superb way to check out overseas lands and cultures, albeit a bit outdoors your ease and comfort zone. Also choose into account aspects this sort of as altitude (can you tolerate oxygen deprivation, or are you better off at sea stage?), weather (will you complete very best in warm or great temperatures, and in a dry or humid local climate?) and the class itself (do you desire an ocean or contemporary-water swim, and a hilly or flat class?). Work out how considerably time you can allot to instruction and racing, and be proactive in communicating your designs with your spouse or household. Involving these closest to you in your newfound activity and currently being honest about the anticipated time motivation will go a very long way toward keeping away from concerns of stress and resentment that can develop if an athlete’s focus on triathlon instruction turns into obsessive.

Related: Now Is the Time to Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Objectives for the 2021 Season

The Newbie Triathlon Instruction Gear You will Need to have

Part of beginner triathlon training is putting together the right gear.
Aspect of rookie triathlon instruction is putting collectively the appropriate gear. Image: Lukas Schulze/Getty Visuals

When triathlon racing and triathlon instruction does call for a whole lot of gear, it does not have to break the bank—especially when you’re very first acquiring started. Chances are, till you have a sound season or two of triathlon instruction and racing below your belt, you almost certainly will not know what major-end gear very best suits your would like and desires anyway. Commence on the frugal end with second-hand products, then upgrade as your capacity and encounter demands. Craigslist, eBay and even your neighborhood bicycle store can be great resources for gently made use of devices, as are categorised boards or discussion boards on your neighborhood tri club’s web page. Or, post what you’re on the lookout for through social media and maybe you’ll inspire a different athlete to upgrade their personal beloved bicycle or wetsuit, enabling you the reward of a perfectly-cared-for hand-me-down. Glance for end-of-model-yr sales on bikes if you’re intent on getting new.

For the Swim

Your race kit (both major and base or one particular-piece) is the outfit you’ll have on all through the swim, bicycle and run—it’s precisely made for triathlon simply because it is designed of a product that will dry quickly following the swim, and has a crafted-in chamois that will make the bicycle journey extra comfy but is not thick more than enough to make you feel like you’re wearing a diaper on the operate. Choose a thing cosy-fitting (it will stretch when soaked) with sufficient rear pockets to keep electrical power gels and any other race-crucial products (for case in point, a rescue inhaler if you are asthmatic). Beware of any annoying seams that can guide to painful chafing throughout a race. If you system on competing anyplace besides the tropics, a triathlon-certain wetsuit (find our picks for for gentlemen and gals), made for swimming mobility and buoyancy, is fundamental. Preferably, choose a check swim at a demo event to genuinely get a feel for how the match suits in the water—it’s certain to feel too restricted on dry land. A pair of goggles that properly seal to your deal with (check the seal in-keep before you buy) is the only other swim have to-have.

For the Bike

A bicycle is probably the one most significant triathlon buy you’ll at any time make. Target extra on ease and comfort and match as opposed to aerodynamics as a rookie triathlete to warranty you enjoy the journey. Commence with Retül’s Body Finder engineering ( to decide the excellent model and sizing for you, then look for for it second-hand. Never ever mount your bicycle without the need of a helmet, requisite security gear for any race. Sunglasses are also vital to preserve your eyes risk-free from flying bugs and highway particles. If you want to make compact updates, the up coming methods might be a new saddle, which can high-quality-tune the ease and comfort stage of just about any steed or bicycle footwear and cleats with corresponding pedals, which will join you further more to your bicycle and give you the reward of the upward part of the pedal stroke.

Very good to know
As portion of your rookie triathlon instruction, look at it obligatory to grasp essential bicycle servicing techniques this sort of as altering a flat tire and insignificant derailleur adjustments. Lots of cycling stores or community education and learning courses supply bicycle servicing classes, providing an invaluable and straightforward-to-learn talent established to preserve you from currently being stranded throughout instruction or a race.

For the Operate

Operate footwear are your only added will need for triathlon’s remaining leg—the identical ones you’d activity for any 10K. A straightforward, low-cost upgrade that will preserve your tri kit totally free of security pin holes is a race belt to keep your selection.

Very good to know
When a triathlon-certain (TT) bicycle or clip-on aerobars are not crucial from the get-go, you’ll occur to enjoy them above time. Set your bicycle up on a stationary trainer before you hit the open highway, enabling you to apply acquiring comfy in the aero situation and clipping in and out of your pedals to avoid the dreaded “turtle” tip-above.

Related: The Very best Newbie Triathlon Bikes

Newbie Triathlon Instruction Recovery Rules

As part of beginner triathlon training, don't neglect recovery!
As portion of rookie triathlon instruction, don’t neglect recovery! Image: Brad Kaminski

Recovery is as crucial a part of triathlon instruction as swimming, cycling and functioning. “I like to view recovery as a portion of your instruction plan. It should not be an afterthought, but a catalyst to aid you optimize the generate from the challenging get the job done you place into instruction,” said Matt Dixon, founder and head mentor of Purplepatch Physical fitness. “No make any difference how challenging you train, you will not get there to race day organized to excel without the need of thoroughly built-in recovery.” Dixon explains that recovery is not as straightforward as lying on the couch or taking a day off from work out. He teams recovery into 3 most important locations, the very first currently being a instruction system made with frequent times of reduce-intensity sessions to aid your body rejuvenate and be organized for the essential instruction sessions that permit big physical fitness gains. The second area of recovery includes an athlete’s way of life possibilities, with an emphasis on plenty of sleep and top quality nourishment. The remaining part of recovery includes modalities this sort of as compression, massage, and stretching. “I would not pay back too considerably attention to these,” said Dixon, as their significance pales in comparison to the very first two locations. “Get the very first two appropriate and you will find great consistency in instruction, encounter less tiredness accumulation, and be at considerably reduce possibility of damage. Not only will you be match, you will also be organized.”

Related: A Environment Champion’s Best 5 Recovery Tips for Athletes

The Psychological Video game

Mental training is part of being a successful triathlete.
Psychological instruction is portion of currently being a prosperous triathlete. Image: Getty Visuals

The mental aspect to endurance sports activities can make or break your race day. Wrap your head around owning a favourable perspective appropriate from the begin, regardless of the end result. In actuality, races almost never go one hundred % to system, so it is important to preserve in mind that just about every race is a stepping stone. The journey is what triathlon instruction and racing is seriously all about—the every day personal problems and milestones, the men and women you fulfill and the classes figured out together the way. And enhanced physical physical fitness and major-notch race performances don’t damage both.

Related: Inspiration Is the Most Essential Psychological ‘Muscle’ in Triathlon

Newbie Triathlon Fueling one hundred and one

An athlete takes in hydration as part of his beginner triathlon training.
Receiving nourishment appropriate is essential to achievement in your rookie triathlon instruction. Image: Getty Visuals

For endurance athletes, nourishment is similarly important each on and off the race class.

Racing and Instruction

A triathlon must not be raced on water by yourself! Eating and hydrating thoroughly is crucial to sustain top quality instruction and to make sure fuel in your tank on race day, recommended Magdalena Boulet, vice president of innovation, investigate, and advancement at GU Power Labs (and an Olympic marathoner). “For instruction sessions lengthier than 60 minutes, apply fueling and hydrating by taking in 200-300 calories for each hour to deliver electrical power and hold off bonking,” Boulet said. “The addition of branched chain amino acids can aid minimize mental tiredness and lessen muscle mass injury. Small amounts of caffeine can greatly enhance overall performance by rising focus and lowering perceived work throughout work out.” As a normal rule, Boulet recommends taking one particular to two one hundred-calorie gels for each hour with water, as perfectly as consuming a 21-ounce bottle of sports activities drink to retain excellent hydration status. Within 30 minutes of finishing a instruction session or race, concentrating on reparation and restoration is vital. “Consume a recovery drink with a top quality protein source that will aid to inhibit muscle mass tissue breakdown and stimulate muscle mass tissue develop-up, as perfectly as carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen merchants. This is crucial to currently being in a position to begin your up coming instruction session rejuvenated and in a recovered condition,” Boulet said.

On race day, you’ll have the solution to use nourishment products provided on class or to have your own—in water bottles or a bento box on the bicycle and in a hydration belt, handheld bottle or your tri kit’s pockets on the operate. In normal, the extra liquid a fuel source (believe carbohydrate beverages or electrical power gels), the less complicated it will be to digest on the go and at race pace. Power chews offer a different simply digestible different for men and women turned off by the texture of electrical power gel. Ultimately, there is a remarkably particular person factor to sports activities nourishment dependent on what operates very best with your personal body chemistry, digestive process and flavor buds, so trial and error in instruction is crucial. “Not one particular recipe suits all, so high-quality-tune your personal excellent fueling protocol,” proposed Boulet.


Kim Schwabenbauer, a registered dietitian, stresses the significance of correct nourishment 24/seven to support an athletic way of life. “The body just can’t be expected to complete at its peak day in and day out without the need of correct hydration and nourishment,” Schwabenbauer said. “Good nutritional possibilities entail forethought, organizing, and preparation, just like getting ready your health club bag or devices before a big day of instruction.” Her specialist guidance for fueling appropriate? “Shop the perimeter of the grocery keep for minimally processed food, learn straightforward cooking preparations that keep nutrition without the need of incorporating extra saturated fat this sort of as steaming, broiling, baking or grilling, pay back attention to your fluid and food intake in relation to how you feel all through the day, and following routines of an hour or extra in length, make sure to eat a combine of carbohydrates and protein this sort of as chocolate milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or protein and fruit smoothie.”

Schwabenbauer encouraged feeding on lean protein all through the day, this sort of as eggs or Greek yogurt for breakfast, nitrate-totally free deli meats, tuna or hummus at lunch and lean beef, turkey, rooster or tofu and beans for meal. Carbohydrates—the No. 1 fuel source for endurance athletes—should make up a quarter of your plate at just about every food (believe entire-grain bread, cereal, oatmeal, wild rice, quinoa, barley or entire-grain pasta). Incorporate wholesome fat for satiety this sort of as avocado, olive oil, nuts, olives or peanut butter, and aim for 4 servings just about every of fruits and greens in addition lowfat dairy to spherical out a substantial-top quality nourishment system. “Athletes must involve 50–60 % of their full nutritional intake as carbohydrates, 15–20 % as protein and 20–35 % as extra fat depending on the time of yr, most popular possibilities and their phase of instruction,” Schwabenbauer said. “Focus less on the amount of food you are feeding on and extra on the top quality of your food. If the top quality improves, the information will modify accordingly and you’ll eat extra antioxidants, feel fuller and have extra electrical power, which all supports your capacity to swim, bicycle, operate and be wholesome!”

Related – Talk to Stacy: How Need to I Method Nourishment For My Initial Triathlon?

Do You Need to have a Mentor?

Having a coach can be helpful for triathletes at every level.
Owning a mentor can be helpful for triathletes at each and every stage. Image: Getty Visuals

Hiring a triathlon mentor is an outstanding reward for these who can pay for it, specifically as you choose on rookie triathlon instruction. (Every month expenses fluctuate extensively depending on the stage of coaching and encounter stage, but are generally $one hundred+ for each thirty day period). The upsides to owning a mentor are numerous, including individualized triathlon instruction designs, overall performance examination, suggestions, encouragement and—perhaps most importantly—advice on when to back off and how to modify for bumps in the highway this sort of as damage, illness or unforeseen scheduling conflicts. Never despair if you just can’t pay for a mentor, even so. You will glean comparable (if not quite as individualized) support and guidance from clubs, teams, team instruction courses, mentors and particular person instruction partners. There’s also a wealth of triathlon instruction and racing data readily available on line, in books or in magazines (appear for an extensive archive of routines and guidance at Look at splurging on a instruction camp (a very long weekend or a comprehensive 7 days in an endurance-oriented locale) as a great way to kick-begin your season, as perfectly as to fulfill new friends and instruction partners. You might even find that the specialist major the camp is somebody you’ll want to retain the services of as a one particular-on-one particular mentor down the highway.

Related: How to Obtain the Correct Triathlon Mentor for You

Newbie Triathlon Instruction Changeover Communicate

Take these recommendations and be sure to use them in your rookie triathlon instruction!

1. Get started eradicating your wetsuit as you’re exiting the swim, pulling it down to your waistline although you’re functioning. Pull off your cap and goggles, but be sure not to fall them for possibility of a gear abandonment penalty.

2. When you get there at your bicycle, take out the remainder of your wetsuit, place on your helmet and glasses, then your bicycle footwear (depending on your ease and comfort stage with the flying mount, your bicycle footwear might now be clipped into your pedals). Never overlook your race selection belt if the race necessitates you to have on it for the bicycle leg (look at the athlete data packet for this rule).

three. Get on your bicycle at the specified mount line, or complete a flying mount if you have practiced this helpful changeover talent.

four. Coming into T2, dismount at the specified line and operate with your bicycle to your changeover location (rehearse your route in and out of each transitions before the race). Depart your helmet strapped till you have racked your bicycle. Promptly swap your footwear, and grab your race belt, hat and any required nourishment, and operate out of T2 although you are putting on your race belt and stashing your nourishment into your pockets.

Changeover Bag Checklist


  • Race kit (aka triathlon match)
  • Wetsuit
  • Swim cap (usually offered by the race)
  • Goggles (deliver tinted goggles for sunny situations, and it is a fantastic thought to have an extra pair in your bag)
  • Timing chip and strap
  • Pores and skin lubricant, this sort of as Entire body Glide (slather any location that might be irritated by a seam or by skin-on-skin rubbing)
  • Sunscreen
  • Heat-up dresses
  • Pump
  • Pre-race nourishment
  • Latex or light-weight cotton gloves (helps prevent micro-tears when pulling on your wetsuit from fingernails or too-challenging pulling)
  • Plastic luggage or previous socks (place on your foot to aid pull your wetsuit on)
  • Lip balm


  • Small towel (helpful to dry off ft)
  • Bike footwear
  • Bike helmet
  • Water bottle with sports activities drink or water, in addition any other on-the-bicycle nourishment
  • Sunglasses
  • Flat kit (on bicycle)


  • Race belt and bib
  • Nourishment/hydration
  • Operate footwear
  • Elastic shoelaces (to conserve time by not tying your footwear)
  • Socks (if wearing)
  • Hat or visor


  • Protein-abundant snack
  • Dry dresses and flip-flops
Athletes dive in after completing their beginner triathlon training program.
Athletes dive in to a dash triathlon following finishing their rookie triathlon instruction plan. Image: Getty Visuals

Triathlon Distances

For most men and women, “triathlon” and “that race in Hawaii” are synonymous–many have viewed glimpses of the once-a-year broadcast of the Ironman Environment Championships in Kailua-Kona, which can give viewers the effect that the activity is a quite very long, quite grueling day of swim, bicycle, and operate. But Ironman is only one particular of lots of race distances within just the activity of triathlon. From the super dash to the extremely distance, there is a triathlon distance for all people. We endorse starting up with a super dash, dash, or Olympic and then working your way up if that’s your want. Keep in mind: you don’t have to go very long to be a competitive triathlete.

(Notice: distances can fluctuate, specifically in shorter races)

Super Sprint

Swim: 500 meters (.three mile)
Bike: 10K (6.2 miles)
Operate: 2.5K (1.6 miles)

How considerably time will I will need to train for a super dash triathlon?
three-four hrs for each 7 days

Super Sprint Instruction Strategy: Tackle Your Initial Triathlon


Swim: 750 meters (.forty six mile)
Bike: 20K (twelve.four miles)
Operate: 5K (three.1 miles)

How considerably time will I will need to train for a dash triathlon?
three-5 hrs for each 7 days

Sprint Instruction Strategy: Eight Months to Your Initial Sprint Triathlon


Swim: 1.5K (.ninety three mile)
Bike: 40K (24.8 miles)
Operate: 10K (6.2 miles)

How considerably time will I will need to train for an Olympic triathlon?
5-seven hrs for each 7 days

Olympic Instruction Strategy: Rock Your Initial Olympic Triathlon

Fifty percent-Ironman

Swim: 1.93K (1.2 miles)
Bike: 90K (56 miles)
Operate: 21K (thirteen.1 miles)

How considerably time will I will need to train for an Olympic triathlon?
8-thirteen hrs for each 7 days

Fifty percent Iron Instruction Strategy: twenty 7 days Instruction Strategy for Your Initial 70.three


Swim: three.9K (2.four miles)
Bike: 180K (112 miles)
Operate: 42.2K (26.2 miles)

Some Parting Tips for Newbie Triathletes

To near out this rookie triathlon instruction guidance, we’ll refer to a well-known write-up from Triathlete contributor Meredith Atwood.

A person of the most typical questions I am asked is: “What is your very best guidance for me—a beginner triathlete?” To which I usually answer, “When I started the activity, I was the sizing of a compact whale. This irony was not lost on me when the very best wetsuit for me was, in reality, an Orca manufacturer wetsuit. In that superb instant, I figured out to under no circumstances choose myself too significantly. That is my very best advice—never choose by yourself too significantly. We do this activity for exciting. Pretty couple of us are actually feeding our people through swim, bicycle and operate.” (Browse the relaxation of her write-up in this article.)

So decide on a race, have a system, and then get ready to have some exciting. Welcome to the very best activity at any time!

Related: Fitter & More rapidly Podcast: The Beginners’ Guide to Triathlon