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Ironman Pro Catriona Morrison tells you how to make your first triathlon a success.

Ironman Pro Catriona MorrisonIn Pro Triathlete Advice, your multisport questions are answered by the world’s finest athletes. This month, Scotland’s Cat Morrison helps you with your first triathlon.

The question:
My friend has signed me up to a triathlon in May 2013, the Slateman Sprint in Llanberis, North Wales. I cycle as a hobby but hardly do any running and occasionally swim as part of my job as a kayaking instructor. Where should I start to train to become a triathlete? I have no idea where to start or what to do. I don’t even know what to wear for the swim in a cold lake, a cycle up a huge hill and a run up an old slate quarry?
Ann Jones, via email

Cat’s answer:
“The good news is that it sounds as if you already have an active and healthy lifestyle, so starting to train for this event will build on that and having a race to target is great motivation for some winter training. So, where and how should you start training to become a triathlete?
In terms of general information on triathlon training, equipment and preparing for races, is a great place to start. However, as we all know, the volume of information that is available is immense and it can all seem a bit confusing at first. Logging onto the website of your national triathlon governing body is also a good first step.

“One of the first things that I would try to establish is if there is a triathlon club in your local area. Have a search on the internet and ask around. If you can’t find a triathlon-specific club, have a look for local running, cycling and Masters swimming clubs. There are many benefits of club membership and these can include coached sessions in a safe and nurturing environment, being surrounded by like-minded individuals and access to a wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience.

“If you are daunted by the prospect of going to a club by yourself, rope in a friend to support you. If you are not confident in your ability to plan a personal training schedule, consider seeking advice from a qualified coach who will guide and support you towards your triathlon goals. Some clubs will offer coaching services, such as working out a training plan, as part of their membership but not all of them do, so you may have to employ a coach independently.

“With regard to your specific race, it sounds as if you have already done some background research on the event and that is an excellent start. This information can help you to refine your approach to training, such as tailoring your regime to work on cycling up hills and practising running off road. You will definitely need to buy or borrow a wetsuit for the swim and a neoprene hat would also be a good investment.

“You may want to consider having a triathlon-specific race suit that you wear for all three disciplines without having to change clothes. Equally, you may also be happy wearing a swimsuit under your wetsuit and putting on biking and running gear in transition. These things come down to personal preference and comfort.

“What is essential is that you try the options before you race so that you know what works best for you. As you start to train for the event and further research the triathlon world, you will gain more knowledge and understanding and you will find numerous people willing to offer you a helping hand.” is the online home of Triathlon Plus. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.

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