Tailored especially for women, Vo2 has published an in-depth guide to training for your first triathlon , incorporating tips from Leah Peploe, International GB Junior Triathlete and Director at Vo2 Sportswear, Matt Tomkin.
Where to start
Due to the different distances, anyone can compete in a triathlon with the right level of commitment.
Having a solid foundation of fitness is advantageous, but you can start training for the sprint distance triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) as a fitness novice. Those who have absolutely no training will struggle, but Leah states as long as you are competent at swimming and can run for an hour at a steady pace, then you’ll be able to compete in a sprint distance with a bit of training.
Any one who is already fairly active, which Leah describes as people participating in physical activity for three times a week or more, should apply for the Olympic distance (1,500m swim, 40km bike and finishing with a 10km run).
Joining a club and training for events at the same time as other members is a useful way to find out about other events. Visit the British Triathlon Association to find a list of clubs that you could join. As a beginner, joining a club is a great way to introduce yourself to the training, while giving you an added motivation boost.
Leah believes the best triathlons in the UK are the Liverpool and Blenheim triathlons.
“They both are really challenging courses but there is such a great atmosphere behind them both as they are such big events. I’ve never taken part in the London Triathlon, but I’ve heard it’s a fantastic event so if you’re from the south.”
Aim to complete at least two hours in the pool, two on the bike and two hours running every week when training for the Sprint distance. If you’re aiming for the Olympic distance, then you’ll need to increase the training hours that you do (the distance is double the Sprint after all!). Extend your training sessions and throw in some extra days in the gym to strengthen your core, which will act as the engine that drives you through the event.
Leah integrates her endurance training with strength work in the gym: “At the gym I do more core stability work, squats with weights, leg press and general circuits e.g. press ups, sit ups, tricep dips. I also do a strength and conditioning session called a 20x20x20 circuit.
“It’s split into three parts where you concentrate on the lower part of the body for 20 minutes, core work for 20 minutes and then foam rolling and basic stretches for the next 20 minutes.”
To prepare for transitions, atheletes should participate in brick sessions, back-to-back training to get your body used to the changes.
So for example you do two hours on the bike, then have a five-minute rest and jump straight onto the treadmill for the rest of your session.
“Transitions are the only time you’ll have to refuel, get changed and brace yourself for the next event. Prepare yourself by having your nutrition (energy gels, water, a small snack) on your bike so you don’t have to scramble about finding it in the heat of the moment.”
Getting the gear
Leah advises beginners to by the basics and improve the kit as you develop.
A swimming costume, goggles, professional running kit, a great pair of trainers and properly fitted bike are the essentials.
Heart-rate monitor equipment can also significantly improve your performance during training as you can focus on getting your body into an anaerobic zone, crucial for speed and building up endurance.
As you grow in experience you may think about buying custome gear, which V02 can provide with your input.
Enhancing your performance on race day
Here are a few tips to help calm your nerves for your first race.
- Eat Breakfast. Fill your stomach with plenty of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein to make it through the race. Opt for a bowl of porridge and some fruit, or two pieces of wholemeal toast and poached eggs three-four hours before the race.
- The swim is the most challenging aspect for most beginners, so aim to stay at the back and swim at a steady pace that you can keep up with. Kick your legs as you get towards the end of the water to encourage blood to pump back into your legs for the bike.
- Drink plenty of water during transitions and take any extra drinks people give you during the course. Salt tablets are also fantastic at reducing cramp and restoring fluids.
- Get your legs moving on a low gear during the cycling part of the race, you can always increase gear and speed towards the end as you are going into the run.
- Get a quick carbohydrate and sugar burst from energy gels, or sweets, before the run and channel this extra energy into making it to the finish line.
- Visualise yourself crossing and the amazing sense of accomplishment you’ll feel!
- Cool down properly – all you’ll want to do is stop but you must cool your body down after all that hard work, otherwise you could seriously injure yourself.
- Lightly jog or walk, and remember to do some stretches. Use a foam roller after the race to relieve the tension in your muscles or have a sports massage
You can browse V02’s range of gear here.
For more gears and reviews you can check our Gear Section.
To find news on any upcoming events, check our Triathlon News Section.