Back in June I finished my first triathlon. It was the Olympic distance (1500M swim, 40K bike ride, 10K run) of the first Grand Rapids Triathlon, and I had a blast. I ended up finishing with a better time than I thought I would: 3hrs 11min. It was really an interesting experience, and something that I think just about everybody could enjoy. I wanted to share some of the things I learned along the way.
1. Make a training plan: This seems like a no brainier, but I found it really helpful to have every day planned out. That way there was no, I’ll do it tomorrow, I don’t need to today. I started with one from beginnertriathlete.com and went from there.
2. Make it public: Tell people what you are doing. A triathlon is something that most people are curious about, and it really helps keep you motivated knowing that everyone you know is expecting you to finish it.
3. Have fun: I’m not going to sugar coat it, the amount of time you need for training sucks, especially at the end. Do whatever you can to mix it up. Bike really early one day and watch a sunrise. Run really late at night after the rest of the world has gone to sleep. Go swimming on a lunch break. Anything you can do to break up the monotony.
4. Don’t be hard on yourself: If you miss a day, or a week, or even most of a month of training, don’t just give up. Accept that you can’t go back in time and change it and just do your best to get back on track, starting today.
5. Get good shoes: I tried putting off getting new shoes even though my old ones were really worn out and it made me miss two weeks of training because I hurt my knee. As soon as I got the new shoes it stopped.
6. You don’t need a new bike: They are expensive and anything with tires will work. What you should do at a minimum though is get non-mountain bike tires. You could do it on them, but it would suck
7. Body Glide: Use it, enough said.
8. Enjoy the moment. During the race, don’t stress about finishing last, or not making it. A triathlon ins a really fun experience, one that the vast majority of the world will never experience. The buzz in the air, the wind in your hair, enjoy it. You’ve worked hard, now reap the reward.
Well, that’s just a few of the things I think would be helpful. The one other thing I can say, if you are thinking about doing on, is just do it. It’s not that scary. You won’t die. You won’t drown. I talked to a lot of people who were in far better overall shape than I am who said they wanted to, but they were worried about one part or another. Finishing a triathlon (especially a sprint distance) is not some magical thing only super-athletes can do, it just takes a little dedication. If you want to do it, just go for it.