Beginner's Guide To A Triathlon

Fitness

Triathlons are one of the fastest growing mass participant sports in the world. But your first one can be a daunting affair. What kit will I need? Am I fit enough? Do I need a brand new bike? The mind boggles…

To straighten out the myths and misconceptions, RG Active – the Official Training Partner of the Bloodwise Blenheim Palace Triathlon & AJ Bell London Triathlon, has devised a beginner’s guide to get you ready for the big day…

Getting the right equipment:

A vital part of training for a triathlon is having the appropriate kit. For beginners knowing where to start can cause unnecessary stress and confusion. It may appear daunting and excessively expensive but first timers don’t need to worry about breaking the bank with the most elite gear.

Phil Paterson at RG Active recommends thinking about what level you are intending to compete at. He said: “If it’s going to be one or two races per year for fun, then you can get away with a lot more basic kit than if you’re looking to race for years to come.”

Swimming:

The most important element to the swim is purchasing a comfortable suit that is sporty and tight-fitting. Low cut swimming suits are out of the question. For men, it’s wise to invest in a ‘jammer’ suit which are tight-fitting and come down to the knee.

Invest in a good pair of goggles and make sure that they fit correctly to your face. Clear lenses are better for darker days when visibility is difficult.

Invest in (or hire) a good wetsuit specifically for triathlons as they differ from traditional surfing or diving suits. Triathlete suits are much thinner on the arms, providing better flexibility when swimming. Always try on the suit before purchasing – this is a must!

Top tip: Utilise a pool buoy and kickboard for training purposes – it will help with technique and strengthen swimming ability.

Cycling:

1. Almost any bike will be fine to race with, providing it meets the British Triathlon Federation safety guidelines. Bikes MUST NOT have fixed gears and will need to have breaks/penny farthings.

2. If you are going to invest, invest in a road bike. They are the most versatile and useful for everyday training.

3. Head to your local bike shop and ask to test run some bikes – this will provide a great opportunity to get a ‘feel’ for the bike.

4. Stay within budget! Don’t be fooled into buying the most expensive bike in the shop.

5. Think second hand – second hand bikes can be a brilliant way to get a much higher spec bike for a lower cost.

6. Bike shoes – not an essential, but are great race day time savers and improve efficiency.

7. Cycle clothing – cycling shorts are an essential as they will provide comfort and support. Make sure to invest in tight-fitted, thermal base layers (ideal when training in the colder months).

8. Other smart layers include: non-padded fleece tights, a winder-stopped jacket, leg warmers, gloves or a headband. Goggles will also help with eye protection from the wind, dust and stones.

9. Top tip: Check eligibility for the ‘cycle to work scheme’ – this could provide a great way to save money on a new bike and essential bike accessories.

Running:

Running shoes can really make or break the race. We recommend getting a running assessment done before purchasing so that your shoes are tailor-made for your gait.

Runners should wear whatever feels most comfortable. Breathable materials that won’t run are a must. In colder weather make sure to layer up!

Top tip: If you can afford to, buy two pairs of running shoes – this means that each pair will wear out in half the time which will be beneficial.

Be safe…

Invest in a good helmet.

If you’re planning to ride your bike at night you should purchase a good pair of lights – the brighter the better. You can get a good set for around £20.

If you are running at night time, make sure to wear high-visibility clothing.

Essential extras that will make your race seamless…

Invest in elastic laces! This could save you bundles of money and time whilst transitioning footwear.

Race belts – they’re cheap to buy and you’ll only ever need one.

Trisuit – this is a personal preference. They will undoubtedly help make your race more seamless, but are not an essential.

Top tip: Be aware of the ‘nudity in transition’ regulation, which means you must always be covered when changing from the swim to cycle. A good tip is to wear a tight fitting top and a pair of cycling shorts underneath your suit!

Click here to sign up for the AJ Bell London Triathlon or the Bloodwise Blenheim Triathlon

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