Your First Triathlon

Have you been looking for a new challenge? A way to meet new people? Want to get active and spend time outdoors? Perhaps a triathlon is right for you. Sometimes the first step is the hardest step. There are so many doubts. It’s a big undertaking. You may be thinking “how much time will this take?” “how much does it cost?” “What if I don’t have a bike?” “Will I even be able to accomplish it?” “I am not a very good swimmer, how will I survive?”

These are all normal questions and you are not alone, but I’m pretty sure you will be able to overcome your challenges. Every athlete is different and has different constraints, so I do not want to make any blanket statement. Determining what works best for you is important. Here are a few tips to help you through the thought process:

What kind of support do you need? Some individuals are able to download a training plan. Follow it and get to the finish line confidently. In my experience, this group is very small and a very special type of person. Others need the group atmosphere where they know every Tuesday night they are meeting with a group to do a run. Most though have dynamics in their life that they are balancing and need some special attention. There are different types of coaching groups that can help you meet your specific needs. For that type of individual, I encourage you to ask about the services and what you need.  

There are blogs and websites that provide tips and tricks. These are very helpful and give peace of mind that someone else has had the same questions as you have had. However, be cautious when taking advice from the internet. The author does not know you and your personal needs. They cannot see your form or know how you are feeling to know if the advice should be modified to avoid injury and keep your body strong in the long run. Having a personal coach or a person to talk to who knows you will allow you to ask follow on questions and ensure that you understand the advice and ensure it’s the right advice for you.

There are shops and professions who offer you advice. Be cautious of free advice. In my experience, there are very knowledgeable people in the sport who provide free advice. Usually this is well intended advice, but if you walk into a shop, they don’t know your personal story, your current condition of training, your constraints and most of all, your training plan. Some also are trying to push a product but in the triathlon community, I have not seen as many product pushers. Most are well intended free advice givers. Working with a coach over weeks and months is a way to make sure you are receiving good advice that is specific to your needs. Sure, go get additional insights but make sure you have a method of identifying if this is the right advice for you.

Most importantly, make sure your family and friends are supportive of your goals. Setting personal goals in any sport takes sacrifice. There will be times when you have to choose to train over enjoying other aspects of life. There will be times when you need encouragement, support and reinforcement that this is a good decision for you. Your family and friends can be a great resource for that type of support. Good coaches are also great resources for the broader level of encouragement.

Competing in a triathlon is a daunting goal but with the right plan and support network, it is achievable for most individual!