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The Training

OK, so you have decided to take the plunge and try a triathlon. What do you need to do? Firstly, some training will be useful! If you have some experience in any of the three disciplines then you really ought to concentrate on those that you do not. So if you are a runner, you should spend more time on your cycling and swimming skills and endurance.

If you do not have a background in any of the three events then you need to spend some time on all of them. Fairly quickly you should be able to spot which you are better at, so again try and spend more time on the ones you are less good at. The temptation is to do more of what you enjoy and less of that which you find harder. Try not to fall into this trap.

For your first event some of your training should concentrate on the actual distances you will be racing. This will give you a idea of how your body feels during and after this distance. It may sound obvious but choose a suitable event. Attempting an Ironman distance for your first triathlon is not good idea! Find a short or sprint event which will probably involve a 400m swim, 15 to 20km mile cycle and a 5km run. There are a lot of those events local to Farnham each year.

It may also be useful to try some "back-to-back", known as brick training, where you do two of the three disciplines one after the other. Don't worry about the transition (see below), concentrate on the two events and again on what it feels like to go straight from swimming to cycling or cycling to running. The most difficult change is from cycling to running so this is best to practice. You don't need to go flat out or do the whole distance, just enough to get a feel for it. Don't worry if it feels hard or strange, it always does and rarely gets easier. After a cycle expect your legs to feel wobbly and tight; running feels like the last thing that you want to be doing at this time.

Pre-race Preparation

Having chosen your event and entered, you should receive details around 7 to 14 days before the race. READ THESE CAREFULLY. All events have their own peculiar requirements due to location etc., so you need to be sure you know what to do. Of particular importance is your start time. You will need to arrive a minimum of one hour before this to get organised and set up properly so that you do not have to rush.

Hopefully, the race details will include information on the bike course. If you have time, cycle around it before the event to familiarise yourself with any particular features, e.g. steep hills or right hand turns. If you can't cycle it try at least to drive around it beforehand.

OK, so we are now in the week before the event. Don't panic and think that you are not fit enough and need to do lots more training. This will only lead to you becoming over tired and probably result in a bad race. Start to reduce the intensity of your training and focus on stretching, jogging and gentle cycling to maintain fitness and suppleness.

Check List

On the day before the race, spend some time checking that your bike is in good working order and getting your kit ready. It is better to pack the day before to save rushing about in a blind panic at 5.00 am on race day!

Race Day

Having got everything together the day before you can get up calmly and get organised without panic. Don't forget to put the bike in the car, could be crucial if you forget it!

On arrival you may need to register to obtain your race numbers etc. Set your bike up in the transition area and try and lay out everything you will need on a bin liner by your bike in the order that you need it. When you are set up, go and check out the swim area where you will exit from the swim to the transition area and, how you get out of the transition on your bike. If you are not one of the first off, watch other people, and see the direction they go.


As the time you spend changing counts in your overall total then obviously it is best to make this as short as possible. One way of doing this is to practice at home putting on cycling gear or changing into running shoes. Remember you are wet after a swim, clothes stick so roll up your top so that you can just put it over your head and roll it down rather than struggling with it.

The important thing is not to panic and make sure that you have everything. If you are not comfortable you will not enjoy your race anyway. Don't worry what other people are doing do what feels right for you. You can easily make up a little extra time in transition out on the bike or the run.

Have a good event and start planning your next one!

Triathlon Training for Beginners

Guide to Race Day Kit