Home Training for a Triathlon

Complete Newbie

Im 25 years old, and have been fairly active throughout my life but have never excelled at any one sport. I am still carrying a little excess podge from 5 years at uni studying for a veterinary degree, and I would say my current fitness is average.

I am really keen to get into Tri but I have noticed that a lot people who take up tri tend to come from a relatively high level of a single sport discipline - half marathon/marathon runners etc. I have only ever ran 10k, I am a fairly fit cyclist as it was my only mode of transport last year and I couldn't really swim until a month ago. 

I am really working on my swimming and can now swim 1250m with small breaks. I have had back pain so my chiropractor has told me to have a rest period from cycling and running for another couple of weeks but they were coming along nicely as-well.

I am just wondering if there is anyone else out there in the same boat as me or if I am expecting too much from myself? The first Tri event I want to do is next June and I am going to try to fit in a couple of winter duathlons in the new year. 


  • risris Posts: 1,002

    hello sarah jane - glad to see you are interested in tri!

    i really wouldn't worry about your sporting background and how you compare with others - my experience of the sport is that it isn't for ex-club swimmers and decent club runners. there is a huge diversity in the sport and there are lots of people taking part at races who have no athletic or sporting background but love the challenge.

    depends on the races you are looking at, but the first tri i did was a local pool sprint and there were two or three times as many old racers, shopper bikes, hybrids and mountain bikes as there was posh road or tri bikes. the racers themselves came similarly varied in age and sizes. 

    personally - i didn't take up 'proper' swimming until i was 25, never swam in a club or was coached as a kit, didn't run until a couple of years later and was a bike rider rather than a 'cyclist'. i played a bit of football and badminton for fun, but that was about it. you certainly aren't alone! 

  • I'd reiterate Ris' post.

    I came to tri as a club / district level squash player. My squash fitness hasn't helped one bit as tri is predominately 'aerobic' based (low and slow) whereas squash is 'anaerobic' based (high intensity, short periods). I used to swim as a kid, but not at any decent level, hadn't ridden a bike in over 15 years and had never ran further than a mile in one go! 

    I started tri this year and have entered 2 aquathlons, a 10k run, a sprint distance tri and the Great Manchester Swim (1 mile). Whilst doing these events, I've met a wide variety of people of all shapes and sizes (racing snakes to weebles!) with different specifications of kit! 

    Get involved - don't worry about everyone else. That's what I think is the best thing about triathlon. You don't have to compete with everyone else if you don't want to. Competing against yourself and trying to improve each time is what its about for me!  

  • For next June you'll be fine. Go for it.

    I am/was in a similar boat. I'm late 30s, had played recreational sport (rugby then hockey for the last few years), hadn't run since school (where I was a sprinter viewing anything over 800m with suspicion), never cycled competively but used the bike as only form of transport for the last fifteen years, haven't swum since early teens.

    Four months ago I restarted running (sort of couch to 5k though skipped half based on cycling fitness). A month later I entered a local Olympic length tri on a whim/challenge. Found out the week after I couldn't actually swim front crawl (I thought I'd be able to do a little! Though breast stroke was fine). A few of swimming lessons and lots of time in the pool got me up to swimming 1500m for the first time a couple of weeks back.

    I did my first triathlon (a sprint) ten days ago and really enjoyed the experience. There were lots of smart bikes but my pannier racked, mudguarded commuter got me round fine (and overtaking the odd person on fancier bikes was a big morale booster). I came halfway through my age group.

    I've got my Olympic distance on Sunday and am looking forward to it though slightly apprehensive (mainly as it's a hilly looking race at Hever rather than the pretty flat one in Cambridge I'd originally planned/trained for).

    I'm already planning races to aim for next year.

    Hope that helps.

  • All the advice the guys above are giving is spot on, I was the same this year, totally novice coming into tri. I could run but could swim 4 lengths without needing a rope to pull me out. At my local tri club's beginner session night last year in the pool, I was asked to sit out after doing 6 lengths as they were scared I might actually need rescuing. And I'm fit, no top ten podium finisher but still fit. But now I'm up to 2k swims and run and bike are no problem. I'm still not fast but I'm finishing in times I feel are decent and I'm only competing against the voice in my head which tells me that if only I would stop, I could sit down and have some chocolate..

    One thing I would suggest is to get a proper bike fit done, not some lad with a good eye but a proper one in a good bike shop. I struggled earlier in the year with hip flexior issues and tight shoulders on the bike and it was down to an incorrect bike position. It wasn't cheap, about £75 for 2hrs but totally solved my issues. If you train steadily you'll be fine for next year, just try and be patient as it will all come together.

  • One of the reasons this sport is so great is because each of the disciplines compliments each other so well! It doesn't really matter if you come from a high level background in one sport. You will still improve vastly. If you need any tips or tricks check out Triathlon Research. This website has helped me quite a bit over my years in the sport! Here is a link for it: http://goo.gl/1MtiiF

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Sarah Jane!

    I'm the same age as you and this summer finished my first olympic distance (having done one sprint at the beginning of the year and one last year). I came to tri through NO sporting background whatsoever - ballet as a kid and a bit of sailing. University saw me through three years with no exercise at all. January of this year, I couldn't swim 100m in a pool, had never run 10k, and was ridiculously slow on my bike. My mum also started triathlon a few years ago as a 55 year old with no history of swimming, biking or running. We both love it and my mum even qualified for the European Championships this year! I was nowhere near last in my event as well. As long as you train you can do anything, even if you don't really train you will most likely finish!! Good luck

  • expecting a lot from yourself is natural, that is how we improve. Remember why you are doing it? Are you aiming to be a champion? or are you doing it to challenge yourself? What ever you do it for remember to enjoy it and realise how far you have come, and what you are capable of. All the best in what ever you do x

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