Try a Triathlon

Regular readers might remember that the Bike Noob is a former runner — uh, jogger really. After I’d been biking for awhile, it occurred to me that combining running and biking could be an interesting and maybe even fun activity. I thought a triathlon might be just the ticket. There was only one problem: I swim like a brick. But I’ll bet most of you don’t, and if the idea of a triathlon intrigues you, you might find these tips for training useful. They come to us from guest poster Carol Montrose.

Whether you’ve competed in triathlons before, simply run races, or you have yet to enter the athletic world, you may be interested in the three-in-one sport combo offered by the triathlon, which requires participants to run, bike, and swim in the course of one race.  However, you can’t just jump right in; you need to prepare.  So here are a few tips to help you get started.

1.     Consider your goals.  You may want to consider your reasons for entering a triathlon, from weight loss to self-esteem to meeting new people.  Each goal will come with attendant motivations, but some might not be strong enough to see you through the difficult and demanding process, so try to be honest with yourself about your level of desire to train and complete a race.  From there, think about your goals for the race (there are a variety of distances to choose from).

2.     Sign up for a race.  Nothing will motivate you more than a looming date that requires you to be able to perform.  So if you’re finding it hard to get your butt in gear, pay for an impending race as a way to kick-start your training.

3.     Formulate a schedule.  You need to give yourself time to train for your upcoming race, which means if it’s set to occur in the next couple of weeks, you should probably drop out and wait for the next one.  You’ll probably want a minimum of 2-3 months to train, possibly more if you’re starting from scratch, so set up a comprehensive schedule that allows for time for training each day for several weeks.

4.     Train for running.  The shortest triathlon is a sprint-distance race.  The running portion is 5K, which equates to slightly more than three miles.  It is said that if your training brings you within two-thirds of your goal distance, you should be able to finish the race.  This means that you must manage a minimum of two miles at a stretch during training in order to complete the race.  However, you’ll be better off hitting the target distance before you ever have to test yourself.

5.     Train for cycling.  The sprint-distance cycling requirement is 20K (about 12 ½ miles).  Depending on the course, this could be entirely level terrain or it may feature hills.  Just in case, you should probably train for a hilly course.

6.     Train for swimming.  The swimming section of the sprint-distance race is generally 500-750 meters (about a quarter to a half mile).  If you’re training in a pool, this is equivalent to about 16 laps (down and back), depending on the size of your pool.  But remember that the race will take place in open water, so be sure to train outdoors towards the end.

7.     Get insured.  In addition to health insurance, you may want to consider other forms of protection in case of an accident during your training or a race.  Although there is no specific form of insurance for cyclists, cheap bike insurance can be had through one of your other policies.  Your car insurance may cover your medical bills in case of an accident while riding your bike, while your Personal Liability coverage (part of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance) can cover unintentional accidents that you cause.  Both can be useful when training for and competing in a triathlon.

Carol Montrose is a writer for In her spare time she enjoys reading and she is currently writing a book on the joys of freelancing.


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