If you, your friend, your sister, your neighbor, or your mom is thinking about doing their first triathlon, here’s everything you need and everything you don’t:
1. You DO need to pick a race! And you need to sign up. Don’t think; just do it.
The 303 Beginner Tri Project recommends five beginner-friendly races:
The Longmont Tri / Longmont Try-a-Tri on June 2nd/3rd (pool swim!)
The Lookout Mountain Tri on June 30th (pool swim!)
Tri Boulder on July 21st
Bounder Sunset on August 25th
The Oktoberfest Sprint on September 23rd (fair warning: this one can be chilly!)
2. You DO want to find a person or a community that you can turn to for encouragement, accountability, questions, and support.
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.
3. You DO need to know how to swim; you DON’T need to know how to swim freestyle. Any which way you want to get though the swim portion of the event is just fine: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, doggie paddle, whatever. Sorry, those little arm floaties are not allowed (that’s why they make wetsuits – they’re practically flotation devices).
4. You DO need a swimsuit (for training) and goggles; you DON’T need a wetsuit … although it’s worth thinking through how much you enjoy cold water. If you’re not partial to it, your local multisport shop likely rents wetsuits, and there are bargains galore online for purchasing one if you don’t want to think about what the last person to rent the wetsuit might have done in it. (Don’t judge, though, everyone does it.)
5. You DO need a bike and a helmet; you DON’T need a “tri bike” or clip in shoes. Absolutely any bike will do: road bike, gravel bike, mountain bike, cyclocross bike, your standard cruiser with a basket and tassels, your kids’ bike, whatever. Just no e-bikes, cuz: really.
6. You DO want a way to carry water while on your bike, and you want to be comfortable taking sips of water while you’re riding.
7. You DO want to train so that you’re in shape enough to swim, bike, and then run or walk the designated distance. You DON’T need to be fast. (That should have been obvious when I said “run or walk.” Really, you can walk.)
8. You DO need something that you can wear from start to finish, cuz they don’t approve of public nudity in the transition area (that’s where you “transition” from swim to bike and then from bike to run); you DON’T need a fancy tri kit – an outfit that is specifically designed for swim-then-bike-then-run. You can swim in a bathing suit then pull bike shorts on top for the bike and trade for run shorts for the run. Or you can just wear the swimsuit. In which case you might want some bodyglide.
9. You DO want a bag or milk crate or duffel that will carry everything you need to the race start, and then home again after. Triathlon involves a lot of gear.
10. Finally, you DO want to enjoy it! All of it: the learning and the training and the nervousness and the excitement and – most of all – the finish line.