You’ve thought about it, talked about it, hemmed and hawed about it, and you’re ready to dive in. Or maybe you’re still testing the waters, sticking a toe in and seeing how that feels before you make a decision. Either way, you might be wondering: How exactly do I get started on the road to my first triathlon?
1. Swim, bike, and run. Just get started – or continue – with each of these activities. You don’t need a plan or a goal or an agenda for any given workout, just do something. ANYTHING. That way when it’s time to think more formally about how much you need to swim, bike, and run to complete a tri you’re not starting from the couch.
2. Talk to people! Talk to anyone you know who’s ever done a triathlon. Ask them what they like(d) about it, what was hard about it, what they’d do again in a heartbeat, and what they wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Believe me, there’s nothing triathletes love more than talking about triathlon, and their experiences in particular, so that hard part won’t be getting them started – it’ll be getting them to stop.
While you’re at it, talk to a few people who’ve never done a triathlon. Tell them you’re thinking about doing one, and then enjoy the admiration they send in your direction. They’ll think you’re amazing, and you haven’t even done anything yet!
3. Read anything you can get your hands on related to triathlon. Websites (303Triathlon.com, duh), magazines (“Triathlete,” double-duh), books (“Your First Triathlon” by Joel Friel, need I even say it?), and any of the million and one blogs out there about triathlon. In fact, I bet you know someone who does triathlon and has a blog – one in every (insert very small number) of triathletes has one. Or at least publishes race reports. Hell, even I do. Read them all.
4. Brush up on the lingo. USAT and IRONMAN’s Time to Tri initiative has published a handy glossary which is a great place to start. That way, when you’re reading all those blogs you’ll understand what they’re talking about.
5. Once you’ve spent a little time talking and reading and doing, step back and consider what you may want your involvement in the sport to look like. Are you a one-and-done, bucket list triathlete? Totally fine, you’re in great company. Are you a five-races-a-year-till-I-croak triathlete? Also fine, you’re in great company. Somewhere in between? Guess what – you’re in great company.
No matter what level of involvement you’re currently considering (I use the word “currently” very deliberately – just like college majors, there’s a reasonably probability that your thinking will change over time), that thinking will inform how invested in the sport you want to be as you get started. I personally was all in from day one, as was evidenced by regular visits from the UPS man, bearing gifts of triathlon gear. But that’s how I roll. If you’re more in the one-and-done or the wait-and-see camp, then you’ll want to start backpedaling immediately when your triathlete friends launch into lists of gear you need in order to take part in the sport. YOU DON’T. But more on that next time …
If you, your friend, your sister, your neighbor, or your mom is thinking about doing their first triathlon, keep an eye on 303Triathlon.com for future beginner-focused columns. Also, join the 303 Beginner Facebook Group! The group is for those new to triathlon, and is a place to share encouragement, whining, setbacks, and accomplishments. Coach Alison Freeman of D3 Multisport will be providing training guidance for the races listed above and is available to answer questions and provide guidance along the way.