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Absolute Beginner

i am looking to compete in my first sprint triathlon in the spring of next year but quite naively I have some questions How do you attach your race number from one discipline to another Swim/bike/run and Do I need a tri suit just wondering what to wear? Would a tri suit have padding for bike and should I get elastic aged laces? Etc 

just trying to understand everything apologies if this all sounds silly but never raced before 

also if anyone can recommend a good Triathlon to try in April in the Home Counties I live in Essex


  • You don't need a tri suit per se but it does mean that you don't have to faff about with putting on cycle/run shorts and a top in T1 and/or 2. The suit should (will) have adequate padding to protect your unmentionables for the ride, the trick is to train in it so you're used to the sensation as it might feel slightly 'bulbous' when running, especially after the swim segment.

    Your best bet for race numbers is to buy a race belt which is an elasticated band with plastic buckles which clips around your waist to which you attach your race number via two cords which each have a stopper. You pop that on in T1, wear it around your back for the bike leg and your front for the run. Failing that you can use the waistband of a pair of underpants and some safety pins to effect the same thing. You'll be body marked for the swim so need not worry about that.

    Elasticated laces are much quicker than tying your own and don't come undone so I would definitely recommend them.

  • Hey Mark,

    we've been blogging about our first year in triathlon (link below). Started with a couple of sprints and then finished with an olympic a few weeks ago. We're hooked

    You can get a simple race belt for a few pounds to afix your race number too. makes it easy to switch around on the bike and run.

    I didn't go for full tri suit, but used tri shorts & a seperate vest. whatever you do on top, I'd def suggest some good tri shorts, as makes the bike more comfortable and whisks water away a bit on the run, so not as bad chaffage

    First tri we did, i used one of my surf wetsuits, which was fine (it was damn cold!!), but i bought a sleevelss tri wetsuit after as water temp is kind of fine from May onwards for main tri season.

     good luck!!

  • Firstly I would have a look and see if there is a local Tri club, if there is you may want to buy a club tri suit - when I started Triathlons earlier this year, I bought a tri suit, I then bought a club tri suit.

    Local tri clubs are great, they often provide training, advice and friendship

    You will almost certainly be able to buy a race belt at the event for around £5, but probably worth buying one ahead of time

    If you plan on doing a sprint, it will probably be in a pool and no need to buy wetsuit..... however, you will probably get addicted and triathlons, running, cycling and swimming will take over your life, and you will need to buy a wetsuit for those lake an sea swims  

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Echo what everyone says - an April tri will be in a pool (by virtue of being a strong swimmer I don't find this as fun) but you won't get me jumping in the open water until May as a rule of thumb... this means you won't need a suit but you can easily rent a wetsuit for year 1 (I think its about £75 for the year effectively) and avoid having to invest in your own wetsuit.

    As a general point, I might be tempted to push more towards late May or even early June when temperatures should theoretically be warmer. This also means that you should be able to peak your training when the weather improves rather than building up when its still Feb/March and chilly and can be "a bit grim"

  • if you're anywhere near Braintree check out Born2Tri club - friendly bunch, very helpful. Entry Central is a useful tool for finding a tri event. I ended up doing my first tri of thi year in WInchester (quite expensive) but there are loads to go for. Born2Tri have a duathlon in APril as their season opener and a Sprint/Olympic tri in July.


  • Hi Mark,

    I completed my first sprint Tri in September and had similar questions, fortunately triathletes are a very helpful bunch of people!

    My own experience is that whilst specific kit will help (and make it more enjoyable) it isn't absolutely necessary (I did my swim in a 15 year old windsurfing wetsuit because that is what I had). As a runner I already had the running kit and bought a tri specific number belt for the bike run sections, these cost a few quid off Ebay etc. Again the elastic pull laces will shave a bit of time off your T1 but are not essential. For the bike I used my trusty, now 20 year old road bike. I would suggest you use what you have and then learn what you need / want from each section.

    The most important thing is to not get too anxious and enjoy the experience as it will be a PB!

    Good luck!



  • Thank you for all your kind comments I am looking for a sprint tri in essex in April/May and then there will be no stopping me 

    Does anyone know what a half descent bike time is for a 50 male doing 47mins at moment

  • A reasonable average speed is anything upwards of 18mph.

    On an Olympic distance, an average speed of 20mph will put you mid way through the field and a speed of 23mph will put you in the top 20%

    However, it is all dependent on hills, wind and conditions on the day

  • Thanks everyone the information was excellent will certainly help me - I am getting very excited about completing my first triathlon now and 6 months to prepare any tips on the swim would be much appreciated 

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Biggest swim tip I can give - Perfect practice makes perfect performance...

    Too many weak swimmers spend lots of time slogging up and down the pool ingraining poor technique habits. Between now and February you have a great window to really work on swim technique and nailing your efficiency through the water - use it well and you'll see huge benefits come the start of race season.

  • Forgot to say that Born2Tri do a duathlon in April at Notley if it's of interest.

  • check out this new resource for beginner triathletes - they blog and are going to launch a course to help you plan your training through the season:


  • check out this new resource for beginner triathletes - they blog and are going to launch a course to help you plan your training through the season:

    Triathlon Training Plan


  • grakaygrakay Posts: 16

    It's May 2017 now. How did you get on?

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