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How can you tell if someone is a triathlete? They’ll tell you within five seconds of your first meeting (cue comedy drums (ba-dum tisch)).
Runners are often tempted to dip their toe in the world of triathlon. They worry about the increase in training, the cost of kit and much more. Here is Jogger’s sure-fire pathway to a smooth transition to multisport.
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What kit do you need?
Essential items are a bike, trainers, clothes you can swim, bike, and run in and a wetsuit if doing an openwater swim. You might also like to think about a racebelt avoid obvious drawbacks of safety pins. Elastic laces to remove the need for tying with shaking hands. Your list could be endless. Until you’re convinced it’s your sport for the long term it might be wise to limit your spending.
What’s your training budget?
We’re not talking about cash but time; how much of that precious commodity can you spare without ending your marriage or threatening your job? That will help you prepare a proper training plan. I realised that the only way to fit everything in was to get up at 5.30am twice a week for a run. It was tough for the first couple of weeks but now I love it and found it makes me more productive at work.
What are your weaknesses?
If your run is the strongest element it will feel great as you pass dozens of people on the final leg of the event but when you look at your time later you’ll realise how much better you can be. By focussing on the other two elements for a couple of months, your running is unlikely to suffer but your speed and confidence in the water and on the bike will go through the roof.
Can you swim?
It’s an obvious question but don’t worry, even if the answer is ‘not much at all’ you will be able to turn that round. A friend of mine joined our triathlon club barely able to complete more than a length of front crawl yet a few months later completed a sprint triathlon in a good time.
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Is your training realistic?
If you are planning to enter an event with an openwater swim session you must get out into your local lake and give it a go in advance. The water will probably not be clear, there are no lines on the bottom, and wetsuits can feel restrictive so you need to practice. You wouldn’t train for a mountain marathon purely on a treadmill after all. Check out your local club for introductory openwater sessions.
Are you ‘Bricking’ it?
Running after a bike session is known as a brick. It’s important to overcome that jelly-leg feeling that afflicts us all. It will feel very odd to run after spending 45 minutes or more on a bike so much better to get used to it in training. To acclimatise your legs, spend the last minute of your ride in a high gear spinning your legs fast and then when you start running focus on getting your technique right rather than speed.
Are you neglecting the transition?
There are three disciplines in triathlon, right? Wrong! The transition is a place where your race can be made or broken. Getting on and off the bike in soggy clothing, running in bike shoes, finding your bike among a sea of similar machines, and putting on trainers onto damp feet are just four of the multitude of considerations you need to be aware of.
Above all, enjoy it. Triathlon is great. The past miles are in the bank which you can now cash in.