Beginner's Guide To Triathlon

by James Eacott

Beginner's Guide To Triathlon

The first step in preparing for your first triathlon is to set a goal for yourself. Whether you want to complete the race within a certain time or simply finish, having a goal will help you stay motivated throughout the training process. Once you have a goal in mind, it's time to start training.

Step 1: Choose your race distance

The first step in preparing for your first triathlon is to decide which distance you want to race. There are several distances to choose from, including:

For your first triathlon, it's best to start with a shorter distance, such as a sprint or Olympic triathlon. These races are still challenging but are more manageable for beginners.


Swimming is often the most challenging part of a triathlon for beginners. If you're new to swimming, it's essential to focus on technique and building endurance. Start by swimming in a pool at a comfortable pace and gradually increase distance over time. Using a pull buoy and paddles is useful for most newbie swimmers to build strength quicker, as well as doing some kicking drills to improve propulsion.

It's also essential to practice open water swimming if the triathlon you're training for involves swimming in the ocean or a lake.


Cycling is an excellent way to build endurance and cardiovascular fitness. If you're new to cycling, start by riding on flat terrain and gradually work your way up to hills. Focus on building your endurance by increasing your distance and speed over time. It's also important to practice transitions from swimming to cycling as this can be a challenging part of the race.


Running is often the final leg of a triathlon and can be the most physically challenging (after all, you’ve done quite a bit to get to this point!). If you're new to running, start by walking and gradually work your way up to running. Focus on building endurance by increasing your distance and speed over time. Use interval training and hill repeats will help you improve your speed and endurance.

Training Sessions:

It's important to incorporate a variety of training sessions into your triathlon training plan to improve your overall fitness and prevent boredom. Here’s an example of some training sessions to include in your plan:

  • Brick workout: A brick workout involves completing two disciplines back to back, such as cycling followed by running. This type of training will help you prepare for the transition from one discipline to another during the race
  • Interval training: Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. This type of training will help you improve your speed and endurance
  • Long-distance training: Long-distance training involves completing a longer distance than you would during the race. This type of training will help you build endurance and prepare you for the race distance
  • Strength training: Strength training involves exercises that focus on building muscle and improving overall strength. This type of training will help you improve your performance in all three disciplines and prevent injuries

Step 3: Create a training plan

To prepare for your first triathlon, you will need to create a training plan. Your plan should include a mix of swimming, cycling, and running workouts, as well as strength training and rest days. Aim to train at least three to four times per week, gradually increasing the volume and intensity of your workouts as you get closer to race day.

A coach can be very useful helping structure triathlon training as it’s difficult to know how much time to spend on each discipline, but here’s an example of a beginner's triathlon training plan:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Swim (500m), Bike (10km), Run (3km)
  • Wednesday: Strength Training
  • Thursday: Swim (500m), Bike (10km), Run (3km)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Bike (20km), Run (5km)
  • Sunday: Swim (750m), Bike (20km), Run (5km)

Note that this plan is just an example and should be adjusted based on your fitness level, schedule, strengths and weaknesses, race distance and personal enjoyment.

Mental Preparation:

Preparing for a triathlon is not just about physical training; it's also essential to prepare mentally. Here are some tips for preparing mentally for your first triathlon:

  1. Visualize: Visualize yourself crossing the finish line and completing the race. Visualizing success can help you stay motivated and focused during training
  2. Stay positive: Focus on the progress you're making rather than comparing yourself to others. Staying positive will help you stay motivated and enjoy the training process
  3. Manage stress: Triathlon training can be stressful, so it's important to manage stress levels. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help you manage stress and stay focused
  4. Don't compare yourself to others: Remember that everyone has their own unique journey. Don't compare yourself to others and focus on your own progress
  5. Practice mental toughness: Triathlons are tough, and there will be times when you feel like giving up. Practice mental toughness by pushing yourself to keep going when it gets tough
  6. Have a support system: Having a support system, such as friends or family members who can cheer you on, can help you stay motivated and encouraged during training.

In conclusion, training for your first triathlon requires dedication, hard work, and mental preparation. By setting a goal, incorporating a variety of training sessions, and preparing mentally, you can successfully complete your first triathlon. Remember to stay positive, stay focused, and enjoy the journey. Good luck!

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