Triathlon has become quite popular over the last few years, many people wanting to challenge themselves to get fit again and setting high goals for motivation. Though triathlons are definitely not for people just starting to get into shape again, if you’ve already been working out consistently for a while and want to up the ante a bit, training for a triathlon may be the incentive you need to take your fitness to the next level. Training for a triathlon shouldn’t be taken lightly however. If you’re aiming for the ultra distance triathlon (which you definitely shouldn’t for your first one) we’re talking about a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of cycling and then to finish things off, a quick marathon (26.2 miles of running). Let’s have a look at how you should go about training for triathlons without getting injured.
Take it Step by Step
Unless you are already a marathon runner and a great swimmer and cyclist you probably shouldn’t be aiming to participate in an Ironman triathlon for your first triathlon. Train for a short distance triathlon first and take it from there. You can either start with the sprint distance triathlon, which involves 0.465 miles of swimming, a 12.5 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run. Alternatively, if you feel a bit more confident about your fitness, you can try the “Olympic distance” triathlon for which you’ll have to perform a 0.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. Once you’ve finished a few of the shorter triathlon races, you can start training for the more serious work of the half Ironman and full Ironman triathlons.
Technique is Key
While you have to be fit enough to finish a triathlon, to actually get a good time you’ll also have to master the techniques of all three different sports involved in a triathlon. You may think you know how to swim, but actually swimming efficiently, using proper technique is much more difficult than most people think. Search some information online about swimming technique and then practice as much as possible. You may even want to get some lessons if you really want to take your first race seriously. The same goes for cycling and running. If you don’t have the basic techniques down, you’ll waste too much energy and increase the risk of getting injured. Getting a triathlon coach, just for a few sessions could really help out.
You should practice your transitions a few times before the actual race. If you leave it till the race to perform the transitions for the first time, something is bound to go wrong.
Scope Out the Actual Course
If possible, go train a bit at the actual swimming, cycling and running courses of the triathlon you’re participating in.
Practice Bike to Run Weekly
The transition from biking to running is the hardest on your legs so try to do a bike to run training session at least once a week to get used to this transition.
Keep training and working on your technique and you’ll be doing an Ironman triathlon before you know it.
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AB: Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Matthew T. Boes, MD Orthopaedic Surgery, a Raleigh surgery clinic. Zane thinks that going from biking to running would be not very fun.