Most athletes have been enjoying some rest and recovery since the Standard Bank IRONMAN event but the new triathlon season is fast approaching with the new Durban 70.3 event less than 3 months away on August 2nd. The 5150 at Bela-Bela follows shortly afterwards on August 22nd, so now is the time to get back onto a structured and consistent training program.
There are also many newbies out there who are desperate to get involved in the sport but starting off in the triathlon world can be quite intimidating. If you are a beginner and have had some experience in swimming, cycling or running, the appeal of the multi-disciplined triathlon event is a natural progression and easily achievable.
You just need to take that first step.
Everyone has to start somewhere, so once you’ve plucked up the courage to race a triathlon, your first step should be to determine your goals and decide which triathlon distance you would like to train for.
With the 5150 events, you can start by taking part in a relay event – so just do the swim, the bike or the run leg. This is a great introduction to the sport as it is easily achievable. You can then progress to a Sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), and then onto the full 5150 distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).
Once you’ve completed a 5150 distance event, you can consider the Standard Bank 70.3 Durban or East London event (1900m swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) and ultimately the iconic IRONMAN South Africa event (3800m swim, 180km bike, 42.2krun).
Leading up to race day make sure that you are sufficiently prepared for your first event so that you finish excited and wanting more. But be realistic from the outset about how much time you have to devote to your training. Consider your family and work commitments. Think about the logistics (distances and extra time taken travelling to and from the pool, gym, track, races etc.) as well as the added expenses (equipment, race entries).
You also need to assess your current fitness levels and your experience in each of the specific disciplines. Your training programme should contain sessions that are evenly spaced out and aim to gradually build your endurance, and later on speed, in all 3 disciplines. The cumulative effect of consistent training over time is how progress is made whether you’re a beginner or an elite level athlete. There is no short cut to getting fitter or faster. Be sure to follow your programme consistently as this is the key to successful training.
It’s always easy starting out on the programme – as you have new goals, high energy levels and good intentions but as the weeks pass fatigue will set in and your enthusiasm will wane. Training for a triathlon is hard - harder than any single disciplined sport because of the time needed to train for all 3 disciplines. Expect a roller coaster ride with periods of feeling strong and periods of exhaustion.
Try convince a friend to join you as a training partner or find a group to train with. It’s always easier to stay motivated if you know other athletes are joining you. Group camaraderie and encouragement also helps with motivation and once you have completed one event, and cheered your friends over the line, you will be addicted to the sport.
Crossing that finish line in your first triathlon will be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life and one that will keep you Moving Forward to the next exciting event.