The Complete Guide For First-Time Triathletes

What are your beginner triathlon training and racing goals

Or do you have loftier ambitions of competing at the elite level? What are your motivations for taking up the triathlon? Are you hoping to have fun, get in shape, or compete at a high level?

If you were inspired by media coverage of a seemingly impossible pursuit or you are already an athletic type, formulating your goals and priorities will help you plan a race season best suited to your desires and strengths.

The biggest thing that intimidates newbie triathletes is the thought of having to train for three separate sports. This proposes a challenge for them and can sometimes prevent them from starting. What they don’t realize is that it is actually quite easy to get started, and very rewarding. If you begin with these essential beginner triathlon tips, the rest will follow.

1. Sign up for your race

If you have never done a triathlon and this sounds like a silly thing to do, setting a firm date for an event can give you the motivation you need to get started. People don’t like to set goals and not achieve them, so making the goal more real by having a date in the books can help you succeed.

When choosing a race to sign up for, consider signing up for one that is far enough in the future to give you time to train properly.

Key tips

  • Consider the date of the race, and if you have enough time to train for it.
  • Pick a race that suits your strengths, don’t try a full Ironman on your first outing.
  • Sign up to set your goals in motion!

2. Get a coach

The best way to set yourself up for success when starting to train for a triathlon is to hire a knowledgeable triathlon coach and look for a local Tri club. It is important to ask questions when choosing a coach, make sure that the person knows your goals, and that they are someone you feel will motivate and educate you.

Key tips

  • Hiring a coach ensures that you’ll have the support you need to succeed in your first race.
  • If you’re hesitant to hire a coach, then invest in a training plan.

3. Join a group

Joining a group is a great way to learn from others in addition to having a coaching or training plan. Each sport has groups you can join to help you learn faster.

If you’re intimidated by swimming and hate swim workouts because you feel you’re the weakest in that event and feel like you know the least about it, well, it doesn’t matter, nobody is there to judge you, go along to a swim class, you’ll be amazed at how much you will learn and just how much you will enjoy doing it and meet new like-minded people at the same time.

Finding a local swim program is a great way to become more comfortable and efficient in the water, no matter your age.

Starting out on a bike can be pretty daunting for a new triathlete too. This is mostly because it takes a lot of skill and equipment to ride a bike properly. However, you can ease into it by slowly riding a few times a week until you get better. Remember to ask for help from friends or try joining a cycling group so you can improve your skills.

This was a great way to learn about efficiency, cadence, speed, and power from other cyclists. If you ride with a group of cyclists, they will definitely tell you everything they know about the sport. Even if some of the information is incorrect, you can still choose what works for you and what doesn’t.

When I first started running, I could only make it half a mile without feeling exhausted. However, I kept at it, and eventually, I was able to run a full mile, then two miles, and eventually a 5k. I also started joining local running clubs, which was great because it allowed me to meet others who were running at my pace, and who shared a similar mindset.

Key tips

  • Joining a swimming group will help you feel more comfortable in the water, period.
  • Joining a bike group will help you learn about the key metrics that cyclists use to excel in a race.
  • Joining a run group offers excellent community and may help you find a training buddy.

4. Surround yourself with other triathletes

One of the best coaches told me that if you want to be successful at something, you need to be around successful people. The same goes for triathlon. If you’re constantly around people who are good at the sport, you’ll learn from them, do better yourself, and stay motivated.

Triathletes are usually more than willing to share what they have learned during their journey. It would be difficult to find a triathlete who does not want to tell you about their racing experiences. Therefore, listen carefully to what they have to say and take note of the information that you think will be helpful to you. Create your own experiences and share them with other people.

The beginner triathlon training gear you’ll need

For the swim

Your race kit is the outfit you’ll wear for the entire race. It’s made of a quick-drying material so you don’t have to change after the swim and has a built-in chamois to make the bike ride more comfortable. It’s also not too thick so you won’t feel like you’re wearing a diaper during the run.

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Select something close-fitting (it will stretch when wet) and has plenty of rear pockets to keep energy gels and any other things you may need during the race (for example, a rescue inhaler if you suffer from asthma).

You should be careful of any irritating seams on your clothing that could cause painful chafing during a race. If you’re going to be competing in any races that aren’t in the tropics, you’re going to need a triathlon-specific wetsuit, which is designed to allow you to move freely while swimming and to keep you buoyant.

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The best way to tell if a swimsuit fits is to try it on in the water. This will help you get a feel for how the suit fits and if it is too tight. The only other thing you need for swimming is a pair of goggles that fit snugly to your face. Test the seal before you buy them to make sure they are the right fit.

For the bike

As a beginner triathlete, you should focus more on comfort and fit when buying a bike, as opposed to aerodynamics. You can use Retül’s Frame Finder technology ( to determine the ideal model and size for you, and then look for it second-hand.

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It is essential to never ride your bike without a helmet, as this is the minimum amount of safety gear required for racing. Wearing sunglasses is also crucial for protecting your eyes from insects and other objects that could be hurled at you while riding. If you’re looking to make some small improvements, the next steps might be to get a new saddle, which can adjust the comfort level of your bike or bike shoes and cleats with corresponding pedals. This will create a stronger connection between you and your bike, and also give you the benefit of the upward portion of the pedal stroke.

Good to know

As a beginner triathlete, you should make it a priority to learn how to change a flat tyre and make minor adjustments to your bike’s derailleur.

For the run

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The only other thing you will need for the final leg of the triathlon is a pair of running shoes- the same ones you would use for any other 10K. A cheap and easy way to improve your tri kit is to get a race belt to hold your number, which will also prevent any holes from being made from safety pins.

Good to know

A triathlon-specific bike or clip-on aero bars are not essential in the beginning, but you will learn to appreciate them over time. Set your bike up on a stationary trainer and practice getting comfortable in the aero position and clipping in and out of your pedals to avoid falling over.

Beginner triathlon training recovery rules

The mental game

Endurance sports are as much about mentality as they are about physicality. If you can keep a positive attitude, you’re more likely to have a successful race, regardless of the outcome. The journey is more important than the destination in endurance sports. Training and racing are about the daily personal challenges and milestones, the people you meet, and the lessons learned along the way. That being said, it’s also nice to have improved physical fitness and successful race performances.

Racing and training

According to Magdalena Boulet, vice president of innovation, research, and development at GU Energy Labs, it is essential to eat and hydrate properly to sustain quality training and ensure fuel on race day. Boulet advises that for training sessions longer than 60 minutes, athletes should take in 200-300 calories per hour to deliver energy and delay bonking. The addition of branched-chain amino acids can help reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. Small amounts of caffeine can also enhance performance by increasing focus and decreasing perceived effort during exercise.

You must focus on reparation and restoration within 30 minutes of completing a training session or race.

You can choose to use the nutrition products that will be supplied at the race or you can bring your own. You can carry water bottles or a bento box on the bike and a hydration belt, handheld bottle, or your tri kit’s pockets on the run.

A more liquid fuel source will be easier to digest while running.

Try different energy chews and gels to see what works better for you. Everyone is different, so what might work for someone else might not work as well for you. It is important to experiment during training to see what gives you the best results.


The registered dietitian Kim Schwabenbauer says that it is important to have proper nutrition all the time to support an athletic lifestyle. According to Schwabenbauer, if you want your body to perform well constantly, you need to hydrate and nourish it properly. This includes planning and preparing your meals in advance, just as you would plan and prepare your gym bag and equipment before working out.

The best way to fuel your body, according to her, is to buy minimally processed food from the perimeter of the grocery store and to cook simply, without adding saturated fats. Pay attention to how you feel throughout the day and after workouts, and make sure to consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein afterwards.

Achieve your goals and set new ones

After you’ve set a goal and prepared and trained for it, you can go out and try to achieve it. It’s important to set realistic goals for your first race.


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