I get a lot of calls from people wanting to train for their first triathlon. Recently I have had a number of calls from people training for a few of our local triathlons in September and October. It seems to be more popular now than ever before. People see the distances of a sprint triathlon and think that they can do it. They don't think it through. They don't give themselves enough time before they contact me. People think they can do it on their own. As the date gets closer to the event they realize they need help. That is when they call me. In a lot of cases it is too late for me to realistically help them be successful. Some of the things you must consider before embarking on your first triathlon are listed below:
- Do you have a working bike? If so when is the last time you were on it? Believe it or not people really do think about doing triathlons and they don't even have a bike.
- Have you recently tried to swim a lap in the pool and can you do it without swallowing the entire pool? People think that swimming as a child and getting in a pool periodically for fun is swimming! It takes months to gain endurance in the pool. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to develop technique and endurance to swim a sprint triathlon. If you have not swam much as an adult give yourself a year to fine tune your swim technique and develop endurance. Just because you are a fit biker or runner that does not mean you will be fit in the pool!
- Can you afford all the training accessories needed, race fee, and, possibly travel? You may need a swim/triathlon coach, bike, bike accessories (shoes, helmet tools), pool supplies (fins, goggles, pull buoy), swimsuit, triathlon apparel (not a necessity but nice to have), heart rate monitor, waterproof watch, running shoes (good ones), sunglasses, supplements (sports drinks, multivitamins etc.), wetsuit, cold or warm weather clothing. I could continue but I think you get the point.
- When was the last time you swam in open water? Swimming in open water is NOTHING like swimming in the pool. It will be important to swim in a lake or ocean before the event.
- How much time can you realistically dedicate to training? Are you willing to sacrifice other things such as going out at night with friends to get up early for a training day?
It is not that I want to talk anyone out of doing a triathlon or marathon. Let's face it that is my job, so the more people that do it the better for me. I do want people to set attainable goals and be successful at achieving those goals. I try to be very straight forward with everyone and let them know what they are getting into. A sprint triathlon seems like it would be very easy. It is far more difficult than you might think. The best advice I can tell anyone is to really think it through before doing it.