So You Want to Do a Triathlon
Ever heard of a triathlon? How about Ironman (the sporting competition, not the superhero)? No? Then you’re probably one of the more sane people around.
A triathlon: swim, bike, run – in that order. There are a number of distances (starting with a sprint and ending with an Ultraman), and all of them are completely nuts. It doesn’t even matter what age you are either – age groups are five year slots, so you’ll never be in your forties competing against a sprightly 16-year-old, but it also means that this is a lifetime sport – there’s a space for everyone.
It happens that my family are rather involved with triathlons, both parents having competed, and my dad now a coach for British Triathlon. We have all the kit (scattered all over the place), we know the lingo, and if the Brownlee brothers came for tea we’d be getting out the best china.
So You Want to Do a Triathlon?
Reckon this sounds like fun? Hand me a thermos of tea, a fold-out chair and I’ll cheer you from the sidelines. But there are some things you should know before getting in to it…
1. There’s a lot of kit
Start with the bike. Then the bike with the clip-on shoes. Then the wetsuit (because you’re going to be open-water swimming), the tri-suit, the heart rate monitor, the watches… it goes on. And it gets expensive. Very expensive.
2. Jelly Babies are your friend
The longer the distance, the more you find out about nutrition. There are all sorts of energy drinks and gels you can take with you but (trust me, I’ve experienced them) they are pretty gross. And if you’re doing one of the ridiculous distances you’re going to get to the point you want something to chew. Jelly Babies. Jelly Babies are pure sugar, and are dead easy to eat on the go. Have a spare bag in your car as well, because you’ll want them after a training session too.
3. Join a club
I’m doing a shameless plug here – if you’re local to me, you want to join Farnham Triathlon Club. These guys have won awards on how good they are! Plus, my dad’s a coach…
Clubs are perfect for beginner triathletes. They run organised training sessions, have great contacts if you want one-on-one coaching or need new trainers, and usually have good links with local triathlons if and when you want to compete. They offer an organised and safe environment for training and can guide you on the right way to go about your programme.
4. Be prepared to be addicted
The family got involved in triathlon after Mum had a drunken agreement to compete in the local one back in 2000. Thirteen years later and most weekends (and week nights) are taken up with triathlon-related activities. Welcome to your new all-consuming hobby.
5. Eat cake
Cake is an essential part of any triathlete’s routine. If you’re part of a club, there will be cake. Stopping off on a long bike ride? Make sure there’s cake. Run a half marathon on your Sunday morning? Why not have a slice of cake. Oh, and if you are part of a club, you might want to learn to bake, too.
Ever thought of taking up triathlon, or have you already done one? What are your top tips for triathletes?