How to prepare for a triathlon
Whether you are a seasoned professional who likes to do triathlons for fun or if completing a triathlon is a lifetime goal of yours, it’s important to train for it. With high-intensity events, preparation is key. Your body is adaptable, but if you throw yourself into a triathlon without any training then you may reach the finish line with some injuries.
Like any sporting event, there are different levels for varying capabilities. The standard Olympic triathlon distances consist of a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and the athletes finish off with a 10km run.
- The men’s Olympic world record for a triathlon currently stands at 1 hour 46 minutes and 25 seconds and was set by Alistair Brownlee at the London 2012 Olympics. He completed the course with a 17:04 swim, 59:08 bike ride and a 29:08 run.
- The women’s record was set by Emma Snowsill at the Beijing 2008 Olympics with a 19:51 swim, a 1:04:20 bike, and a run of 33:17 totalling the record at 1 hour 58 minutes and 27 seconds.
Long-distance triathlons which many know as Ironman triathlons are organised by the World Triathlon Corporation and include a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42km run.
- The men’s Ironman record stands at 7 hours 35 minutes and 39 seconds with a 45:22 swim, 4:08 bike ride and a 2:39 run by Jan Frodeno in 2016.
- The women’s Ironmen record is currently at 8 hours 18 minutes and 13 seconds. Chrissie Wellington completed a swim of 49:49, a cycle of 4:40 and finished with a 2:44 run in 2011.
If the sporting achievements of the greats haven’t inspired you, then we have assembled 7 vital tips that will help you when tackling the mammoth task that is a triathlon.
1. Essential gear for a triathlon
As the event tackles so many different disciplines, you will need a range of equipment to get you from the starting line to the finish. As you will want to get the fastest time possible, it is vital that you don’t overload on the items that you bring (we will discuss this later) but below is a list of essentials that we recommend you use.
- Wetsuit lubricant
- Cycle shorts
- Running shoes
- Water bottle
2. Start short, then go long
An issue that many people face when they start to train for a triathlon is that they overestimate their bodies capabilities and throw themselves into the full distance. This can lead to injuries that will set you back, so it is important to start with shorter distances and then build up your endurance from there.
By doing this, your body will adapt to the stress that you are placing it under and grow and repair accordingly. It also makes your training fun and won’t make you dread your training time.
It is important to use this mentality whilst you are taking part in the race too. Many first-time triathlon racers blow their energy within the first part of the race; this could be to do with the adrenaline and excitement. It is important to reserve some energy for the later parts of the race as these will require the most effort.
3. Practise transitions
Each part of a triathlon requires a different piece of equipment, sportswear and mindset. The swim, bike, run format of triathlons means that there is a transition period between each discipline – which is included in your time! It is important to practise the move from one discipline to another so that there are no hiccups on the day of the big race.
One way that you can prepare for this is during training. Set up a practice transition area making sure that you only include your essential pieces of equipment. Having an organised area will eliminate any stress and will benefit you in terms of speed.
During this time it is good to practise the transition from your wetsuit into your cycling gear and then into your running kit. Practising the motions during your training period will help you mimic the feel of the race on the day of the competition.
4. Add open water swims into your training
Trying to replicate the conditions that you will be under during the race is one of the most important ways that you can improve performance. Being in open waters will increase your comfort level for the real swimming section of the triathlon. The techniques for swimming in pool conditions and open waters are very different and this could be something that might slow you down if you are not used to it.
The water conditions of open water swimming are often rougher, unlike pools which are guaranteed to be still.
Another difference will be the temperature of the water; in the UK, the temperature of the sea will not rise past 18 degrees whereas the average pool temperature is consistently 28 degrees. This could be a big shock to the system and even affect your breathing when swimming, so it is important to master the art of open water swimming. Some triathlons cater towards pool swimming, so if you find that this is an issue then try and look for a race which caters to indoor swimming.
5. Brick training sessions
What are brick training sessions? Training two disciplines back to back. This will help your performance and is the best way to train your body for a triathlon. The demands for each event require different things from different parts of your body, it is important to train with this in mind.
The cycling to running segment of a triathlon can be very leg focused and will give you the jelly leg feeling, that’s why it is important to cater your blocks of training to focus on strengthening your legs.
By practising the bike to run transition you will feel prepared for the demand that the exercise will take on your lower body, so when it comes to race day you will be both mentally and physically prepared!
Supplementation is important for triathletes, they can help boost your performance and help you get the most from your body.
The first supplement type that we recommend taking is intra workout. This product is designed to be taken during exercise so acts as a perfect pick me up during your transition stages. Designed to keep your body functioning at its highest potential for the longest time, the range will help reduce muscle fatigue which is exactly what you need for high-intensity events.
Energy Gel Berry
At Kinetica, we recommend the Energy Gel Berry which comes in a pack of 24 and will act as a great supplement leading up to your big day. It is scientifically designed to promote endurance within sportspeople and includes Vitamin C which contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. The gel is free of artificial colours and is suitable for vegetarians. All Kinetica products are batch tested within the World Anti-Doping Framework which will ensure that we provide you with a safe and dependable sports nutrition product.
If you manage to get to this step, we salute you! Congratulations, you will probably have completed your triathlon or you will be looking for triathlon recovery tips. On average, it will take up to 2 weeks to recover fully from your sporting event.
Take 2-3 days off, let your body relax from your normal training schedule. This will allow your body the initial recovery that it needs, it is important to take this time before jumping back into training otherwise you could be susceptible to injury.
Areas of your body will be sore (especially your legs) so it is important to cater your recovery programme towards your own body. Massage the areas that ache the most – a wise investment could be a foam roller which you can manipulate and add pressure to the body parts you are struggling with.
Another simple way which will aid recovery is through contrast showers. Standing in the shower and changing the temperature from hot to cold every 5-7 minutes will increase blood circulation. In turn, this will promote recovery and reduce or break down the lactic acid within your muscle.
Kinetica has developed the ultimate recovery supplement range, which will not only help you after the race but also in your training period. The selection of recovery supplements are designed to be consumed during training and up to 20 minutes after your activity has ended. Many of the products are free from artificial flavourings and colourings. Discover the entire range of recovery supplements available here at Kinetica Sports.