Everything You Should Know When Training For Your First Triathlon

Triathlon. Such an awesome sport. One of the fastest growing sports in the US right now in fact. It’s exploding in popularity and that makes me so happy since I have grown to adore this sport.

Everyone starts somewhere though. When I signed up for my first triathlon I went all out. Bought a tri kit, a new road bike with clipless pedals, the whole nine yards. I didn’t even know if I would like triathlon or continue doing them, but I jumped in completely from the get go and I haven’t looked back since.

I learned a lot from that first race. The first triathlon you run is really a giant learning experience. You might race it sure, trying to do your best, but it’s still a complete curveball and the lessons you take away from the first time can be used to fuel your training and perfect your racing techniques. However, just because the first triathlon is generally a learning experience for most, doesn’t mean you should go into it blind. Triathlon is crazy because it’s three very distinctive and individual sports all smashed together and done in succession, and that creates a lot of questions and confusion that shouldn’t have to be learned during that first race. There are some things you should take away from that race, but there are other things that are just plain old good to know before hand. So I did some asking around and have come up with a concise list of what you should know before your first triathlon!


1. How to shift your bike

2. What the “hoods” are on a road bike and that you don’t have to hang out in the drop downs.

3. Better bike = better race (yes you can finish a tri on any bike, but the fancier they get the more comfortable you’ll be and better you’ll do on that leg of the race)

4. Bikini waxing is essential for long bike rides (Cycling can be rough on your lower bits, be nice to them!)

5. A strong bike leg is the key. Being a good runner means nothing without the ability to get off the bike after 10k/20k/40k/90k/180k and run

6. That the dead leg between bike and run is real but half mental

7. Practice transitions. A lot.

8. Double sports bras for the win

9. Nothing new the day(s) prior for fueling

10. Learn and practice efficient swim technique

11. Don’t go out too fast on the swim

12. Open water swimming can be scary. Tough it out!

13. Find a place to practice open water swims.

14. Register for more than one, because otherwise you have to wait a whole year to do another

15. You’ll love it.

A huge thank you to everyone who offered up a piece of advice. I truly hope this post helps others who may be new to the sport or looking to get into triathlon focus their training and have the best race possible. Happy training!

What else would you add to this list- When you first started triathlon, what’s one thing you wish you knew then that you know now?

17 Replies to “Everything You Should Know When Training For Your First Triathlon”

    1. Glad you found it helpful! Good luck to your sister and maybe I’ll see you out there someday too =)

    1. Transitions are one place you can save time with just a little attention to detail and focus!

    1. For sure! The engine is definitely the more important part in the equation. These are all tips and advice I gathered through some crowd sourcing, so opinions may vary. I definitely believe in building the engine first, although you can still buy yourself a little speed if you really try =P

  1. There’s a newbie-friendly one here in May that I’m so intrigued by…the swimming is in a pool so I don’t have to freeze AND I bought a bike today! It’s an almost new Huffy bike that I bought for $50 off Craigslist and I think it’s a mountain bike? Yeah, I’m that new to biking! I’ll post a picture on the blog soon I’m sure! But I still don’t know if I can get it together in such short notice, especially with my crazy half marathon training issues right now and another half in July. But maybe next year? Now I’ve lost my mind haha.
    Kristen recently posted…Searching For My Yoga HomeMy Profile

    1. You have more than enough of a fitness base to finish!Especially one that is beginner friendly. You can swim any stroke you want and the type of bike you ride doesn’t matter. I like crazy Kristen, so don’t worry about your mind =P

  2. What a great list!! I would add the following:
    1. Make sure you are in the correct gear when leaving the transition area so you are prepared for the terrain
    2. Put your swim googles under your swim cap while racing so your googles don’t accidentally get kicked off your head
    3. Be sure to practice nutrition (if needed), so you don’t have any unexpected things happen during a race
    4. If you are swimming in a wetsuit, be sure to practice swim in it a few times before race day…some people get a claustrophobic feeling in a wetsuit, which can increase anxiety
    5. Practice changing your tire many times just incase you flat on the bike, so you know what to do and are comfortable fixing the problem on your own.

    Kecia recently posted…Random Training ThoughtsMy Profile

  3. I’ve done like 10 tris and there are things on this list I didn’t even know, haha! I’m so with you on the bike stuff…the bike is my weakest and least favorite part but it got a lot more enjoyable once I got a tri bike! Definitely not a necessity, especially for a beginner, but it does make it a lot more comfortable. And yes to practicing transitions! One of the things I remember best about my first tri isn’t even from the race itself, it was riding around in the parking lot behind my house the night before, practicing getting on and off the bike and transitioning 🙂
    Tracy @ Tracy Tris recently posted…People I Don’t GetMy Profile

    1. Getting on and off your bike is definitely something that needs to be practiced! Something so small that we take for granted.

  4. My first tri was a half IM (or kinda as I think it was a 2 mile swim and the bike was actually longer than 56)- back in 1982. The choices that day (or the day before I should say when I signed up) was for a full and a half, so not wanting to be out there “all day” I chose the shorter distance. I had plenty of 100 mile bike rides and marathons under my belt, but I wasn’t prepared for the cold water and came out of it relatively hypodermic (no such things as wet suits then…at least for me!) I think I ended up third in my AG or something like that, but again, the women’s field was not crowded. We have actually had some sprint races here locally a few years back where the women out-numbered the men. Training for my 123rd currently. Still love it, but I don’t think I know “enough” about the sport still to give information to anyone.

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