Have your sight set on completing a triathlon but can't seem to muster up the motivation to start training?
Just go ahead and register for one already.
“You gotta commit,” said Galion resident Andy Muntis, 43, who’s completed about 25 triathlons (primarily sprint, and a few olympic distances) in about eight years. “If you’re struggling to get into the training, it helps to get registered so that way you’ve got a date and something to shoot for.”
The type of training plan you follow will depend largely on the distance you’ve signed up for. Here are the four most common, according to “The Active Times.”
- Sprint Triathlon—750 meter (0.465 mile) swim / 20 kilometer (12.5 mi) bike / 5 km (3.1 mi) run
- Standard or Olympic Triathlon—1.5 kilometer (0.93 mile) swim / 40km (25 mi) bike / 10 km (6.2 mi) run
- Half-Ironman or 70.3 Triathlon—1.9 kilometer (1.2 mile) swim / 90 km (56 mi) bike / 21.1 km (13.1 mi) run
- Ironman Triathlon—3.8 kilometer (2.4 mile) swim / 180.2 km (112 mi) bike / 42.2 km (26.2 mi) run
Muntis recommends finding a training plan that’s doable and doesn't push you past your limits, putting you at risk for injury.
“The more training you get in the better off you’re going to be,” Muntis said. “But if you get to race day and you don't think that your training was enough, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get through the race.”
One of the great things about triathlon training is that has “built-in cross training,” said Emily Freeman, OhioHealth Ontario Health and Fitness Center supervisor.
Cross-training is the method of combining different workouts, including low-impact activities like bike riding and swimming, which don’t put as much strain on your joints, compared to a high-impact activity like running.
One of the biggest benefits of cross-training is reduced risk of injury.
As you train, Freeman suggests “evaluating your weakest link.” In other words, which of the three events do you struggle with the most and how can you improve?
If cycling is your Achilles’ heel, perhaps consider joining a cycling club or get involved in group rides with other experienced cyclists. If swimming isn’t your strong suit, see if you can have an experienced swimmer show you some pointers on proper techniques to help shave off time spent in the water.
To help boost your endurance and prepare your body for the multi-sport race, try including back-to-back exercises, or "brick workouts," in your training (e.g. a swim and bike workout or bike and run workout). It also helps if you’re able to incorporate some training at the venues where the race will take place (open water swimming, for instance, differs from pool swimming).
Remember that as you train you’ll be expending quite a bit of energy, meaning you’ll want to make sure you’re well-nourished. Here’s an example of a meal training plan by Livestrong.com.
You’ll also want to have a water bottle handy, making sure you stay plenty hydrated throughout your training and on race day.
As race day draws near, pay attention to the forecast, which can affect how you plan to dress and what equipment you’ll want to use.
Muntis remembers competing in his first olympic triathlon at Alum Creek in Columbus. Up that point he had competed in sprint triathlons (which are shorter in distance).
“I hadn’t thought about the longer distances for swimming and biking and that I wouldn’t start running until about 10 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “At 10 o’clock in the morning in July in Columbus it was 95 degrees and the sun was beating down and there was absolutely no wind, so that was something new that I wasn’t prepared for, and it was very brutal and the run did not go well at all,” he said with a laugh.
Something else to consider are the transitions. Try practicing transitions, like taking off your wetsuit and getting into cycling gear. (If you’re serious about triathlons, they make special triathlon suits.)
“You can win or lose a race in the transition area,” Muntis said.
On race day try to arrive to the venue early.
“It’s better to get there an hour-and-a-half early and take a half-hour nap than to get there 15 minutes before the race starts and be scrambling around and not ready to go when you have to start,” Muntis said.
Muntis’ first ever triathlon was the Shelby triathlon, for which he now volunteers. The Shelby triathlon/duathlon will take place this year on Saturday, July 27. The triathlon consists of a 500-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and 3.4 mile-run. You can compete as an individual or part of a team. Click here for more information.
To find out when local triathlons are taking place, click here.
Related reading: Prevent Injury While Training For Marathons, Ironmans And Triathlons