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


Wanting to sign up for your to start with triathlon? We share almost everything you have to have to know about beginner triathlon instruction and racing—from gear necessities and diet basic principles to mental prep and tips for choosing a coach—to assistance you have a profitable to start with triathlon. This posting was prepared by Holly Bennett, with contributions from the Triathlete editors.

Relevant: Tri one zero one from Triathlete Journal

What Are Your Beginner Triathlon Training and Racing Objectives?

As component of your intro to the sport, think about why you’re using up triathlon to get started with and what you hope to acquire from the beginner triathlon instruction knowledge. Are you enthusiastic purely by the desire to have fun and increase your social circle? Are you seeking for a health kick in the trousers to fight the bulge of middle age? Were being you inspired by media protection of a seemingly extremely hard pursuit? Are you an athletic form already, aiming to be a severe contender? Regardless of what your reasons at the commence, formulating your aims and priorities will assistance you plan a race year greatest suited to your needs and strengths.

As you peruse race calendars seeking for important events, think about a range of variables and alternatives. Community races are probably to be packed with close friends and family for people who thrive on race-day help, when desired destination vacation races can be a one of a kind and excellent way to examine foreign lands and cultures, albeit marginally outside your ease and comfort zone. Also just take into account components this sort of as altitude (can you tolerate oxygen deprivation, or are you better off at sea amount?), temperature (will you accomplish greatest in hot or great temperatures, and in a dry or humid local climate?) and the training course alone (do you prefer an ocean or refreshing-h2o swim, and a hilly or flat training course?). Compute how much time you can allot to instruction and racing, and be proactive in communicating your designs with your companion or family. Involving people closest to you in your newfound sport and remaining straightforward about the expected time dedication will go a prolonged way toward staying away from troubles of stress and resentment that can produce if an athlete’s emphasis on triathlon instruction turns into obsessive.

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

The Beginner Triathlon Training Gear You will Want

Part of beginner triathlon training is putting together the right gear.
Portion of beginner triathlon instruction is putting alongside one another the ideal gear. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Visuals

Though triathlon racing and triathlon instruction does need a great deal of gear, it does not have to crack the bank—especially when you’re to start with having begun. Probabilities are, right until you have a reliable year or two of triathlon instruction and racing under your belt, you possibly won’t know what major-finish gear greatest satisfies your desires and demands anyway. Start on the frugal finish with 2nd-hand merchandise, then update as your capacity and knowledge calls for. Craigslist, eBay and even your community bicycle shop can be excellent sources for carefully utilized tools, as are categorized boards or community forums on your community tri club’s internet site. Or, article what you’re seeking for by means of social media and perhaps you’ll encourage yet another athlete to update their possess beloved bicycle or wetsuit, enabling you the reward of a effectively-cared-for hand-me-down. Search for finish-of-model-12 months revenue on bikes if you’re intent on acquiring new.

For the Swim

Your race kit (both major and bottom or just one-piece) is the outfit you’ll put on all through the swim, bicycle and run—it’s specifically developed for triathlon mainly because it is created of a substance that will dry promptly just after the swim, and has a crafted-in chamois that will make the bicycle trip much more comfy but is not thick sufficient to make you experience like you’re carrying a diaper on the operate. Opt for some thing cosy-fitting (it will stretch when moist) with ample rear pockets to keep strength gels and any other race-critical merchandise (for illustration, a rescue inhaler if you are asthmatic). Beware of any annoying seams that can lead to agonizing chafing throughout a race. If you plan on competing any where aside from the tropics, a triathlon-specific wetsuit (find our picks for for adult men and gals), developed for swimming mobility and buoyancy, is basic. Preferably, just take a examination swim at a demo occasion to truly get a experience for how the suit matches in the water—it’s certain to experience also restricted on dry land. A pair of goggles that perfectly seal to your deal with (examination the seal in-store just before you get) is the only other swim need to-have.

For the Bike

A bicycle is probably the one premier triathlon acquire you’ll at any time make. Aim much more on ease and comfort and in shape as opposed to aerodynamics as a beginner triathlete to assurance you appreciate the trip. Start with Retül’s Body Finder technologies ( to decide the suitable model and size for you, then research for it 2nd-hand. By no means mount your bicycle without having a helmet, requisite basic safety gear for any race. Sunglasses are also essential to maintain your eyes harmless from traveling insects and street debris. If you want to make compact updates, the upcoming steps might be a new saddle, which can high-quality-tune the ease and comfort amount of approximately any steed or bicycle footwear and cleats with corresponding pedals, which will hook up you even more to your bicycle and give you the reward of the upward part of the pedal stroke.

Excellent to know
As component of your beginner triathlon instruction, think about it obligatory to master standard bicycle routine maintenance abilities this sort of as altering a flat tire and minor derailleur changes. A lot of cycling shops or neighborhood instruction systems present bicycle routine maintenance lessons, delivering an a must have and simple-to-discover ability established to maintain you from remaining stranded throughout instruction or a race.

For the Run

Run footwear are your only extra have to have for triathlon’s closing leg—the exact kinds you’d sport for any 10K. A simple, economical update that will maintain your tri kit cost-free of basic safety pin holes is a race belt to keep your range.

Excellent to know
Though a triathlon-specific (TT) bicycle or clip-on aerobars are not critical from the get-go, you’ll come to appreciate them in excess of time. Set your bicycle up on a stationary coach just before you hit the open street, enabling you to follow having comfy in the aero placement and clipping in and out of your pedals to prevent the dreaded “turtle” idea-in excess of.

Relevant: The Greatest Beginner Triathlon Bikes

Beginner Triathlon Training Restoration Principles

As part of beginner triathlon training, don't neglect recovery!
As component of beginner triathlon instruction, really do not neglect recovery! Photo: Brad Kaminski

Restoration is as significant a part of triathlon instruction as swimming, cycling and running. “I like to see recovery as a component of your instruction application. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a catalyst to assistance you optimize the produce from the tricky function you place into instruction,” explained Matt Dixon, founder and head coach of Purplepatch Fitness. “No issue how tricky you educate, you will not arrive to race day well prepared to excel without having properly integrated recovery.” Dixon points out that recovery is not as simple as lying on the couch or using a day off from physical exercise. He teams recovery into three most important parts, the to start with remaining a instruction plan developed with frequent times of lower-depth periods to assistance your body rejuvenate and be well prepared for the important instruction periods that let large health gains. The 2nd space of recovery consists of an athlete’s way of life selections, with an emphasis on lots of slumber and excellent diet. The closing part of recovery contains modalities this sort of as compression, massage, and stretching. “I would not pay back also much consideration to these,” explained Dixon, as their importance pales in comparison to the to start with two parts. “Get the to start with two ideal and you will find excellent consistency in instruction, knowledge less exhaustion accumulation, and be at much lower chance of damage. Not only will you be in shape, you will also be well prepared.”

Relevant: A Earth Champion’s Prime 5 Restoration Tips for Athletes

The Mental Game

Mental training is part of being a successful triathlete.
Mental instruction is component of remaining a profitable triathlete. Photo: Getty Visuals

The mental part to endurance sports activities can make or crack your race day. Wrap your head all-around having a beneficial frame of mind ideal from the commence, irrespective of the finish end result. In actuality, races rarely go a hundred % to plan, so it is important to maintain in thoughts that each and every race is a stepping stone. The journey is what triathlon instruction and racing is genuinely all about—the every day own issues and milestones, the persons you fulfill and the classes realized along the way. And improved bodily health and major-notch race performances really do not hurt both.

Relevant: Motivation Is the Most Crucial Mental ‘Muscle’ in Triathlon

Beginner Triathlon Fueling one zero one

An athlete takes in hydration as part of his beginner triathlon training.
Acquiring diet ideal is important to good results in your beginner triathlon instruction. Photo: Getty Visuals

For endurance athletes, diet is similarly important each on and off the race training course.

Racing and Training

A triathlon should really not be raced on h2o on your own! Having and hydrating properly is critical to sustain excellent instruction and to assure fuel in your tank on race day, advised Magdalena Boulet, vice president of innovation, analysis, and growth at GU Energy Labs (and an Olympic marathoner). “For instruction periods extended than 60 minutes, follow fueling and hydrating by using in 200-300 calories for every hour to produce strength and delay bonking,” Boulet explained. “The addition of branched chain amino acids can assistance minimize mental exhaustion and reduce muscle mass damage. Modest quantities of caffeine can increase general performance by raising emphasis and lowering perceived energy throughout physical exercise.” As a basic rule, Boulet suggests using just one to two a hundred-calorie gels for every hour with h2o, as effectively as consuming a 21-ounce bottle of sports activities consume to sustain suitable hydration standing. In thirty minutes of finishing a instruction session or race, concentrating on reparation and restoration is essential. “Consume a recovery consume with a excellent protein supply that will assistance to inhibit muscle mass tissue breakdown and really encourage muscle mass tissue create-up, as effectively as carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen outlets. This is significant to remaining ready to commence your upcoming instruction session rejuvenated and in a recovered state,” Boulet explained.

On race day, you’ll have the choice to use diet products and solutions equipped on training course or to have your own—in h2o 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 basic, the much more liquid a fuel supply (think carbohydrate drinks or strength gels), the a lot easier it will be to digest on the go and at race speed. Energy chews deliver yet another simply digestible option for persons turned off by the texture of strength gel. In the end, there’s a very particular person component to sports activities diet dependent on what works greatest with your possess body chemistry, digestive program and taste buds, so demo and error in instruction is essential. “Not just one recipe matches all, so high-quality-tune your possess suitable fueling protocol,” proposed Boulet.


Kim Schwabenbauer, a registered dietitian, stresses the importance of proper diet 24/7 to help an athletic way of life. “The body just can’t be envisioned to accomplish at its peak day in and day out without having proper hydration and diet,” Schwabenbauer explained. “Good nutritional selections include forethought, planning, and preparing, just like planning your health and fitness center bag or tools just before a large day of instruction.” Her professional advice for fueling ideal? “Shop the perimeter of the grocery store for minimally processed meals, discover simple cooking preparations that retain nutrients without having incorporating excess saturated fats this sort of as steaming, broiling, baking or grilling, pay back consideration to your fluid and meals consumption in relation to how you experience all through the day, and just after exercise routines of an hour or much more in size, make positive 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 proposed consuming lean protein all through the day, this sort of as eggs or Greek yogurt for breakfast, nitrate-cost-free deli meats, tuna or hummus at lunch and lean beef, turkey, hen or tofu and beans for evening meal. Carbohydrates—the No. 1 fuel supply for endurance athletes—should make up a quarter of your plate at each and every food (think total-grain bread, cereal, oatmeal, wild rice, quinoa, barley or total-grain pasta). Involve healthier fats for satiety this sort of as avocado, olive oil, nuts, olives or peanut butter, and goal for four servings each and every of fruits and vegetables furthermore lowfat dairy to round out a significant-excellent diet plan. “Athletes should really include 50–60 % of their overall dietary consumption as carbohydrates, 15–20 % as protein and 20–35 % as body fat based on the time of 12 months, preferred selections and their section of instruction,” Schwabenbauer explained. “Focus less on the amount of meals you are consuming and much more on the excellent of your meals. If the excellent improves, the information will change accordingly and you’ll eat much more anti-oxidants, experience fuller and have much more strength, which all supports your capacity to swim, bicycle, operate and be healthier!”

Relevant – Ask Stacy: How Should really I Solution Nutrition For My Initial Triathlon?

Do You Want a Mentor?

Having a coach can be helpful for triathletes at every level.
Getting a coach can be valuable for triathletes at each and every amount. Photo: Getty Visuals

Selecting a triathlon coach is an amazing reward for people who can manage it, in particular as you just take on beginner triathlon instruction. (Every month costs vary greatly based on the amount of coaching and knowledge amount, but are commonly $a hundred+ for every month). The upsides to having a coach are various, which include individualized triathlon instruction designs, general performance investigation, suggestions, encouragement and—perhaps most importantly—advice on when to back off and how to change for bumps in the street this sort of as damage, ailment or unforeseen scheduling conflicts. Never despair if you just can’t manage a coach, even so. You will glean comparable (if not rather as individualized) help and advice from clubs, groups, team instruction systems, mentors and particular person instruction partners. There’s also a wealth of triathlon instruction and racing information accessible on the web, in guides or in magazines (glance for an in depth archive of exercise routines and advice at Think about splurging on a instruction camp (a prolonged weekend or a complete 7 days in an endurance-oriented locale) as a excellent way to kick-commence your year, as effectively as to fulfill new close friends and instruction partners. You may possibly even find that the professional leading the camp is an individual you’ll want to seek the services of as a just one-on-just one coach down the street.

Relevant: How to Discover the Suitable Triathlon Mentor for You

Beginner Triathlon Training Transition Converse

Consider these tips and be positive to use them in your beginner triathlon instruction!

1. Start off eliminating your wetsuit as you’re exiting the swim, pulling it down to your midsection when you’re running. Pull off your cap and goggles, but be positive not to drop them for chance of a gear abandonment penalty.

two. When you arrive at your bicycle, take out the remainder of your wetsuit, place on your helmet and eyeglasses, then your bicycle footwear (based on your ease and comfort amount with the traveling mount, your bicycle footwear may possibly already be clipped into your pedals). Never ignore your race range belt if the race requires you to put on it for the bicycle leg (examine the athlete information packet for this rule).

three. Get on your bicycle at the selected mount line, or accomplish a traveling mount if you have practiced this valuable changeover ability.

4. Coming into T2, dismount at the selected line and operate with your bicycle to your changeover location (rehearse your route in and out of each transitions just before the race). Go away your helmet strapped right until you have racked your bicycle. Speedily swap your footwear, and grab your race belt, hat and any necessary diet, and operate out of T2 when you are putting on your race belt and stashing your diet into your pockets.

Transition Bag Checklist


  • Race kit (aka triathlon suit)
  • Wetsuit
  • Swim cap (ordinarily provided by the race)
  • Goggles (carry tinted goggles for sunny disorders, and it is a excellent plan to have an excess pair in your bag)
  • Timing chip and strap
  • Skin lubricant, this sort of as Overall body Glide (slather any location that might be irritated by a seam or by pores and skin-on-pores and skin rubbing)
  • Sunscreen
  • Heat-up garments
  • Pump
  • Pre-race diet
  • Latex or gentle cotton gloves (stops micro-tears when pulling on your wetsuit from fingernails or also-tricky pulling)
  • Plastic baggage or old socks (place on your foot to assistance pull your wetsuit on)
  • Lip balm


  • Modest towel (valuable to dry off feet)
  • Bike footwear
  • Bike helmet
  • Water bottle with sports activities consume or h2o, furthermore any other on-the-bicycle diet
  • Sunglasses
  • Flat kit (on bicycle)


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


  • Protein-rich snack
  • Dry garments and flip-flops
Athletes dive in after completing their beginner triathlon training program.
Athletes dive in to a dash triathlon just after finishing their beginner triathlon instruction application. Photo: Getty Visuals

Triathlon Distances

For most persons, “triathlon” and “that race in Hawaii” are synonymous–many have seen glimpses of the annual broadcast of the Ironman Earth Championships in Kailua-Kona, which can give viewers the perception that the sport is a really prolonged, really grueling day of swim, bicycle, and operate. But Ironman is only just one of quite a few race distances inside the sport of triathlon. From the tremendous dash to the extremely distance, there’s a triathlon distance for every person. We recommend starting up with a tremendous dash, dash, or Olympic and then doing work your way up if that’s your desire. Try to remember: you really do not have to go prolonged to be a aggressive triathlete.

(Observe: distances can vary, in particular in shorter races)

Super Sprint

Swim: 500 meters (.three mile)
Bike: 10K (six.two miles)
Run: two.5K (1.six miles)

How much time will I have to have to educate for a tremendous dash triathlon?
three-4 several hours for every 7 days

Super Sprint Training Strategy: Tackle Your Initial Triathlon


Swim: 750 meters (.46 mile)
Bike: 20K (twelve.4 miles)
Run: 5K (three.1 miles)

How much time will I have to have to educate for a dash triathlon?
three-5 several hours for every 7 days

Sprint Training Strategy: Eight Weeks to Your Initial Sprint Triathlon


Swim: 1.5K (.93 mile)
Bike: 40K (24.eight miles)
Run: 10K (six.two miles)

How much time will I have to have to educate for an Olympic triathlon?
5-7 several hours for every 7 days

Olympic Training Strategy: Rock Your Initial Olympic Triathlon


Swim: 1.93K (1.two miles)
Bike: 90K (56 miles)
Run: 21K (thirteen.1 miles)

How much time will I have to have to educate for an Olympic triathlon?
eight-thirteen several hours for every 7 days

Half Iron Training Strategy: twenty Week Training Strategy for Your Initial 70.three


Swim: three.9K (two.4 miles)
Bike: 180K (112 miles)
Run: forty two.2K (26.two miles)

Some Parting Advice for Beginner Triathletes

To shut out this beginner triathlon instruction advice, we’ll refer to a well-known posting from Triathlete contributor Meredith Atwood.

A person of the most prevalent issues I am questioned is: “What is your greatest advice for me—a novice triathlete?” To which I ordinarily react, “When I begun the sport, I was the size of a compact whale. This irony was not dropped on me when the greatest wetsuit for me was, in point, an Orca manufacturer wetsuit. In that excellent moment, I realized to in no way just take myself also seriously. That’s my greatest advice—never just take by yourself also seriously. We do this sport for fun. Very several of us are basically feeding our family members by means of swim, bicycle and operate.” (Go through the relaxation of her posting listed here.)

So choose a race, have a plan, and then get completely ready to have some fun. Welcome to the greatest sport at any time!

Relevant: Fitter & Faster Podcast: The Beginners’ Manual to Triathlon