By Dan Meyer
1) Patience is a virtue
Once you decide to make triathlon your goal, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and sign up for a race that’s only a few weeks away. Give your body time to adjust to the rigors of participating in three sports at once. Plan at least three to six months of training Before your first race.
2) Start small
Many people are motivated to start triathlon by the idea of becoming an Ironman! While it’s truly a memorable and life-changing goal to achieve, most people need at least two years of consistent training to be ready for Ironman. It’s better to start with a shorter race such a sprint (usually a 500-750 yard swim, 12-15 mile bike ride 5k run) or even a super sprint (200 yard swim, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run). Once you’ve spent three to six months training, you can do several shorter races within a few months before working up to longer races.
Starting small also means easing in to training. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, you need to focus on getting your body moving before taking on sport-specific training. Even if you’ve been active in one or two of the three disciplines, it’s best to approach the other sports as a beginner.
3) Choose wisely
From gear to training to races, the choices can seem overwhelming and expensive! When you’re starting out, you don’t have to sport all the latest and greatest gear to have fun and race well.
When it comes to gear, good fit is the key. You will need:
Swim: a good fitting swimsuit and pair of goggles. Podium Multisport carries swimwear and a wide variety of goggles. Their knowledgeable associates will help you try on goggles and find the right pair to fit the unique contours of your face.
Bike: a good fitting helmet and bicycle. You don’t need an expensive bike or even a new one, but making sure you have the correct fit is essential to enjoyable riding. You won’t find better bike fitters than the ones at Podium Multisport. You don’t have to buy a bike from them to get your fit, and they can optimize the fit of your current bike or suggest the models best for you based on your measurements. You also need a good pair of bike shorts to make sure you stay comfortable while riding and water bottles to stay hydrated.
Run: a good fitting pair of shoes, shorts, shirt and socks are all you need.
You can find free training plans on the web, but you’ll need to pay for a place to swim. Unless you grew up swimming competitively, join a pool with coached workouts, such as Dynamo Swim Club or a club with coached swims such as the Atlanta Triathlon Club. Some gyms and YMCAs also have masters (meaning over 18, not advanced) swim programs.
When it comes to training, consistency is the key. You don’t need to train frequently, hard or long when you are starting out, but you need to stick to your plan and complete the prescribed workouts.
There are many local, inexpensive sprint races to choose from. Tri The Parks puts on a race series that is ideal for beginners and even includes a novice category that lets you start in a less intimidating swim wave with other new triathletes. Georgia Multisport Productions also has many sprint distance options.
4) Enjoy the journey!
Learning new sports will take time, but is really fun when you follow tip one and are patient. Some days you may be tired and sore, but focusing on your goal of completing a race should help keep you going. Those of us on Team Podium like training almost as much as racing. Smile and enjoy it! We will see you at the races. Just remember to yell, “Go Team Podium!” when you see us out there.