How ready are you for winter to be over? Sure, spring will continue to be wet, but at least bright, sunny days are coming.

With the warm weather comes outdoor activities. Swimmers, bikers, and runners will populate the landscape once again.  Each activity promises not just great exercise but fun in the sun as well.

Why not combine them? Triathlons have maintained steady popularity due to their challenge, variety, and health benefits. By combining the functionality of each sport you get a whole-body workout that will leave you feeling strong and unstoppable.

Keep reading to learn how to train for a triathlon.

Get the Right Gear

The right gear won’t win you competitions. But it will help you make the most of your efforts.

Swimming

Wetsuits offer a few advantages. First of all, they help keep you warmer in cold water. If your body gets too cold you’ll start losing energy to staying warm.

Instead, wearing a wetsuit will keep you comfortable, allowing you to commit all your energy to the race ahead. Since swimming is the first challenge you’ll face, you want to make sure you’re starting strong.

The buoyancy offered by a wetsuit offers a mild advantage, as well. It’s just an extra boost to keep you competitive.

Try a few different suits. You can find a tri wetsuit review here to help you find the right product.

Cycling

The type of bike you choose is up to you. Obviously, it’s important that it’s competition-worthy, but whether that takes the shape of a road bike, a mountain bike, or other is your choice. The important thing is that you can ride it comfortably.

Bike shorts will help keep you comfortable and cool while you race. Biking shoes and clips, too, if that’s your preference.

Running

Don’t let the variety of running shoes overwhelm you. It’s easy to drop hundreds of dollars on something no more effective than a $40 pair.

What’s important is that you have running shoes that fit well and are comfortable. Make sure to break them in before the race. 

Build a Plan

How much training do you think you need before competing in a triathlon? A good ballpark number is 12 weeks. That breaks down to about a month per leg, allowing you plenty of time to train for each sport.

If you commit to even a half-hour a day, five days a week, you’ll develop endurance, build muscle, and strengthen your ligaments safely. It’s important to start gradually and build your intensity over time to prevent injury.

Choose a sport to focus on for each session without doing the same training on back-to-back days for the first few weeks. This will allow you to rest different muscle groups between sessions.

Build time and resistance over the weeks, but only when you can safely perform each exercise with proper form. Unnecessarily pushing yourself can easily lead to injury.

Start grouping your exercises in the last few weeks. Start treating your sessions like the competition itself. This conditions the body to the coming challenge.

Aim for two days in a row of rest each week. It’s important that your body gets time to recover. You’re pushing yourself to a new level, so you need to allow time for your body to rest.

Proper nutrition is massively important, too. You need enough protein to support your muscles, carbs to provide energy, and fat to keep you feeling full.

Focus on the Fundamentals

Before breaking the triathlon down to its components, you can develop an approach that is applicable to each sport. These fundamentals are a linear progression that will help you develop the necessary form, strength, and endurance to compete.

Form

An injury won’t just slow you down: it could prevent you from competing altogether

Practicing proper form is essential to preventing injury. Stick to weights and distances that allow you to follow perfect form, even when fatigue sets in. While it may seem unsatisfying at first, it will build the muscles necessary to develop real power and endurance.

It will also allow your muscle memory to develop. By always practicing proper form your body will learn how to properly position itself. Soon this will become an automatic response, allowing you greater focus.

Power

Starting to feel ready for speed? Once you have mastered proper form you can begin to focus on strength-building. The more power you develop, the faster you’ll be able to move.

Resistance training is a great way to target individual muscles, but compound movements allow you to make the most out of each workout.

Deadlifts, squats, and bench presses develop your back, chest, shoulders, and legs while incorporating stabilizing muscles like triceps, core muscles, and more.

Endurance

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have the stamina to complete the triathlon. Training for the distances you’ll have to compete in conditions your body to face the challenge.

The controlled environment of a training session can’t replicate the experience of race day. However, the more you prepare your body, the better you’ll react.

Keep Your Cool

The one thing that training can’t account for is the mental challenge of race day. Adrenaline has a way of knocking people off their game. The extra rush of blood can cause competitors to push too hard too early, burning through their energy reserves quicker than they trained for.

Take deep breaths. Enjoy the experience. You’re competing in a challenging sport against other committed athletes. 

Adopt the mindset that you’re not competing against anyone else. You’re simply applying the last 12 weeks of training, going through the motions you’ve been practicing.

The only challenge you have to face is the one in front of you. You can’t worry about cycling when you’re in the water. You can’t stress about your swim time halfway through your run.

It’s just one stroke, one pedal, one step at a time.

How to Train for a Triathlon: Final Thoughts

Triathlons aren’t for the timid. They’re a challenge for even the most season athlete, demanding excellence from a variety of sports.

Knowing how to train for a triathlon is the key to successfully competing. The above is a roadmap that will get you from the couch to the finish line safely, confidently, and with pride.

Visit our Health & Fitness archives for more articles on healthy living.

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