Triathlon – Want to Tri but don’t know where to start?


Triathlon is a rapidly growing sport, with increasing numbers participating in events, from elite level to grassroots. The beauty of triathlon is that it can be participated in by all ages.

What makes this sport unique is that you have to compete in not one but three disciplines, and that can be quite overwhelming for some. Many people, after watching an ironman or triathlon feel inspired and say: ‘I would love to do that one day’, but often they don’t know where to start.

Everyone has their own perceptions of what it takes to do a triathlon; often that you have to be super-fit or have all the gear to do it and because of these ‘obstacles’, the dream of doing a triathlon can keep getting delayed.

Here are some tips on where to start and common mistakes to avoid, to help you on your way to your first triathlon.

If you are starting from scratch, 2-3 months is a good time frame to work up to your first race.

Finding a race
The best way to become involved within the sport is commit to a race. Once you have done that, then you can come up with a plan on how to achieve your goal.

•  Find a race 2-3 months away (  has an up-to-date calendar to have a look at)
•  The triathlon racing calendar year predominately runs from November – April, in between this is the off season.
•  Decide your distance. A sprint is a good way to start off, with the distances being:
750 swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

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This is the hardest part, most people want to train for a bit and until they feel more confident with their fitness. Just DO IT, it will be the biggest motivator and confidence booster. Now you have accountability. Well done.

What gear do I need?
Triathlon gear can be expensive, especially when you are just starting out. It depends on your budget, but the best way is to work with what you have, then upgrade as required. Ideally though, the basics you do need to run your first triathlon are:

1) swimsuit
2) goggles
3) bike
4) helmet
5) running shoes

You may not look like the pros but remember not to compare your chapter one with their chapter 20. Everyone started from somewhere and never be afraid to talk to other athletes about their experiences. Focus on improving your fitness through regular training and the rest will come. After your first triathlon, you will learn so much that even you can pass knowledge onto someone else.

Where do I start?
The best way to start is get involved with others and join a club. You will learn so much and enjoy being in a supportive and social environment. There are many different training programmes to be found on the internet or in books.

The amount of training depends on many things, such as how competitive you want to be and how much time you can put into training around your everyday life. If you want to be competitive, the best way is to find a coach that suits you, as everyone is different.

Tips to keep in mind when training through the season

1) Decide on your goals for the season
Some people like the social aspect of the sport, others want the challenge of being the best they can be. Make sure the work you put in and your goals align to save any disappointment later.

2) Stick to the plan
At times we can get over-excited at the start and train more than we should, or play catch-up on a session that was missed the day before. This can catch up with you and your body. Just forget it and focus on what is up next.

3) Don’t underestimate the importance of rest
Make sure you allow your body to recover properly by getting enough sleep and ensuring a rest day is exactly that. The last thing you want is an injury or burnout.

4) Stay positive and remember to have fun
Triathlon should be enjoyable. Having a positive attitude will always help. If your goggles fall off, keep going, if someone passes you on the bike, don’t worry, just focus on your own race and remember to smile. You should be out there having fun.

Trust me, the feeling of completing your first triathlon is very rewarding. Take the leap this season and challenge yourself to compete in this great sport.

The Hamilton Triathlon Club is a friendly group of triathletes and coaches looking to encourage any new triathletes into the sport and help those already involved to reach the next level. Get involved now – see you out there.

By Suze Landers
Hamilton Triathlon Club

My Dad joined the Hamilton Triathlon Club because he the wanted to give himself a new challenge of competing in a triathlon. He thought it would be good idea for me to join also as I already do running and netball.

I had done swimming lessons in the past but I was not doing any at the time so dad asked the tri-club if I could join the Wednesday lessons even though it was only adults attending.

On my first time going, I was put with dad in his pool lane.  I swum behind dad and wasn’t too slow but I struggled with the distance.  After a while I found I could last for longer amounts of time and that I was faster.

My goal in November is the 3-9-3 distance event and being part of the Hamilton tri-club will help me achieve this goal.”    – Sophie Harris


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