Running a marathon is a bucket list item for many people. However, the most committed athletes take this one step farther and decide to start training for a triathlon. While there is some crossover between the two events, training for a triathlon its own set of challenges that are quite different than the challenges you will face when training for a marathon.
The first triathlon was held September 25th, 1974 in Mission Bay, San Diego, California. This race attracted just 46 competitors – a tiny number when compared to the 2 million people that participant in modern day triathlons each year. The first triathlon was sponsored by the San Diego Track Club, but like modern day triathlons, it involved far more than just running. A triathlon includes a swim, a bike ride, and then a run, challenging athletes every step of the way.
However, the distances involved in each triathlon vary. When planning to participate in a triathlon, make sure that you understand exactly what that specific triathlon will entail.
Choosing the Right Triathlon
A sprint triathlon is a great way to dip your toes into the world of triathlons. These include a swim that is approximately 750 meters (0.5 miles), a 20km (12.4 mile) bike ride, and a 5k (3.1 mile) run. These distances are usually manageable for a newbie, ensuring that with proper training, you will make it to the finish line of your first triathlon. Once you have a few sprint triathlons under your belt, you can start to try out longer races, working your way up to a half or full Ironman. A full Iron man is one of the most challenging races in the world, including a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run – a full marathon that comes right on the heels of the swim and bike ride.
Sticking to Your Training Plan
Once you have picked a sprint triathlon to compete in, you will need to set up a training plan. Most people will need at least 12 weeks to train for this event. However, those that are already quite healthy and physically fit might be able to train in as little as 8 weeks. Those that have no history of running, biking, and swimming should allow for at least 16 weeks of training.
Each week, you should schedule 2 trips to the swimming pool, 2 runs, and 2 bike rides. This schedule should include at least 1 brick session, in which you practice your bike and then run or your swim and then bike. This will help you prepare to compete these events back to back.
While you are training, you should take into consideration what the conditions will be like on race day. If the terrain will be particularly hilly, you should plan to practice running and biking in a hilly area when possible. If you will be competing your swim in an open body of water, you should try to swim in open water at least once each week leading up to the race.
In general, you should start slow and increase your distance by a maximum of 10 percent each week. Before race day, you should aim to complete distances that are 10% longer than those you will be covering on race day. This means that if you are training for a sprint triathlon, your training should work up to a 0.55 mile swim, a 13.6 mile bike, and a 3.4 mile run.
You should also plan to incorporate resistance training and rest days in your weekly schedule. Resistance training can be completed after your endurance training. You should focus on the muscles that are most used during the triathlon. This includes your arms, shoulders, core, glutes, and hamstrings. Strong muscles will make it easier to keep increasing your distances without getting injured. Another way to stave off injuries is to make sure that you take rest days. One or two days off each week can go a long way towards helping your muscles recover from your workouts.
This training schedule will make it possible for you to get ready for your first triathlon. However, training alone is not enough. You will also need to make sure that you drink plenty of water, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and get plenty of sleep at night. To learn more ways to get healthy and increase your fitness, check out our other blog posts and the information on our website.