View Full Version : Total newbie interested in triathlon...need advice

February 19th, 2010, 04:58 AM
Okay, so I'm new to swimming. I swam for a team when I was a kid, but my version of 400 IM was so terrible that lifeguards were probably tempted to intervene. I'm a pathetic (stroke-wise), but strong swimmer. I taught whitewater kayaking and I'm well-trained in both lifeguarding and whitewater rescue. I completed more than one multi-day rescue courses that literally required me to jump in a nasty, man-eating hole, strip off my gear, and crawl to the bottom of the river only to be spit out and make my way to the river bank after saving a hypothetical "victim."

I just registered for my first triathlon. Can anyone tell me how to begin training? My husband is a "retired" D1 (and world ranked) swimmer who is more confident in my abilities than my own mother is. I know better than to listen to him. So I'd like to hear what you have to say about how I should begin training for an Olympic-distance tri, given this: I am a strong (but NOT pretty swimmer) and I currently run 7-8 miles a day. I also mountain bike probably 30 miles a week. I'm not looking to place in this triathlon, but I hope to finish with a respectable time. Where should I start?

February 19th, 2010, 10:12 AM
I started with a mini triathlon 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, and 3.1 run. I suspect you'll probably want to be ready for the longer version so my advice is for you to begin with a baseline swim. Get in a pool and see how far you can go without stopping and time yourself. If you can swim two miles or around 150 lengths (25 yards) without stopping you should be confident that you could make a open water 2 mile swim. The open water swim even for a strong swimmer is very different. I got dizzy my first time because I picked up my head too often to find out where I was going. You learn to pick your head up less when you know the course better (current) so be sure to get out to the course and learn it and ask other triathletes their take on the course. Every chance you can, get an open water swim in to test yourself. Most triathletes in your area will give you a nice course or outline where you can swim (take your husband along). If you can't get an open water swim in, start some long distance indoor work. With a baseline swim established you can get back on-line and tell us where you're at (yardage wise and time-wise) so more people can help you. You're going to love it. Master swimming and tri swimming gives you more reasons to stay in shape. You'll never regret it. Good Luck, Coach T.

February 19th, 2010, 10:40 AM
There are several websites for new triathletes. beginnertriathlete.com and trinewbies.com are a couple. There are plenty of articles and discussion forum topics that address training for your first triathlon.

The biggest concern most new triathletes have is the swim. You seem to have quite a bit of outdoor water experience, so the fear factor of swimming in a lake, river or ocean probably isn't there for you. You will want to make sure that you can finish the 1,500 meter swim somewhat comfortably. If you aren't already there, just work your swim distance up over a few weeks until you can complete at least 2,000yds (or meters). If you are looking for a "respectable time" on the swim, just go to the event website & look at last year's results for your age group and look over the times of the top 50%, 33%, 25% (or whatever you consider "respectable") and see how your pool time compares to theirs.

The bike leg is where you will be spending a majority of your time, so you should increase your mileage to a point where you can ride 30+ miles without stopping at least a couple of times before your race. If a mountain bike is all you have, then use it. But you'll be happier (and faster) if you can borrow or buy a racing bike (not necessarily a triathlon bike) for a couple of weeks leading up to and including the race.

You shouldn't have any worries about the 10k run.

Good luck!


February 19th, 2010, 10:50 AM
I have not done a triathlon, so for what it's worth, here are my two cents regardless.

I swim with triathletes and I ask them questions. I am intrigued with the event. I think it would be cool to say I've done one, but I don't really care for bicycling, meaning I don't want to buy a road bike and train on it for hours, and the half marathon doesn't sound fun either. I like open water though.

After speaking with some tri-guys, one of them mentioned that he uses the swim and the bike races (during the triathlon) to set himself up for the run. What I take from this is, to answer your question somewhat, get to the point with your swimming that you are comfortable with doing the yardage but in a conserving to moderate pace.

From his advice, I take this as, if I can do 3000 for time and determine my 100 time as 1:XX, then during a triathlon, I might do 1:XX + 5 seconds. This would allow me to be competitive but conserve energy for the bike and run.

During the bike ride, I guess do something similar, then during the run, bring it home. He gives it his all during the run. I believe because it is the last event and not his strength.

Good luck!

February 20th, 2010, 12:57 AM
It sounds as if you have all the tools need now. IMHO do a shorter one to start , it will build you into feeling better about moving up in distance. Good luck.