Tips & advice for beginners or novice triathletes

So you may be thinking about competing in your first triathlon this year. You have found the old worn Speedos at the back of the underwear draw and dusted the cobwebs of the bike in the garage, but what now! Well the good news as a runner you are almost there.


Competing in your first triathlon is exciting, but can be overwhelming but fear not you don't have to be 'super fit' to take part, in fact you don't even have to excel at any of the 3 sports individually and that's the beauty of it.  It's also the perfect sport for developing all round health and fitness as training across the disciplines strengthens and tones your body, it also keeps the boredom at bay by the variety in the sessions. Most first time triathletes will not have the experience that you have of having raced some sort of running race in the past so you will have one up on them at the start line.


There are many beginner and novice triathlon races out there and with over 150 new races every year you will easy find one that fits your abilities. My advice on your first triathlon would be to start with a sprint or super sprint triathlon. Sprint distance is normally; 750m swim, 20km bike and a 5km run. Super sprint consists of; 400m swim, 10k bike and 2.5km run. If you are looking for an excellent venue for your first triathlon you can’t go wrong with the Eton supersprint at Dorney Lake near Windsor. The event is contained within the grounds and is flat and traffic free, check out the race at They also have the ever popular woman’s only race at this venue. We also now have our own local sprint races at St Neots,


This does not need to be a lengthy affair and depends on what your fitness is like and whether or not you already train in any of the 3 disciplines.  As a general rule you should start off by training once or twice a week in each discipline and don't worry about speed or distance to start with, it's important to build up slowly, total weekly hours for your first sprint triathlon will be no more than 5 hours, so if you are running twice a week with the club you are almost halfway there.  You should be looking to build up to your race distance, going slightly further if you can in preparation for the race.  For your first race concentrate on building your endurance up rather than focussing on speed. Work on you weaknesses and maybe seek the advice of a coach, if swimming is your weakness have some lessons, swimming by the way is most triathletes weakest discipline and remember no one wins a triathlon by being just a good swimmer. One of the most important training sessions for triathletes is to practice the transition from bike to run, this type of training is called a brick session. Brick sessions for sprint triathlon training could consist of 45mins on the bike followed by 15mins run with only a maximum of 5mins rest between the two. You don’t need to do this type of workout on the roads as it can be done in the gym. This type of workout gets you body used to that jelly leg feeling when you start to run after jumping of the bike.


I hope this gives you an idea of the type of commitment and determination is needed to take part in your first triathlon, this is an asset you already have due to your running. You now know you don’t have to be a super fit athlete to take part in triathlons and you can do very well with little training on top of your running schedule. Good luck and remember there is no “I CANT” in triathlons only “I WILL” and anything is possible.