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First Triathlon- how to choose the right distance?

Hi everyone!
Aussie first timer here. I picked up a copy of 220 Triathlon at the local library and thought "I could probably do this!" So, now I am! I am training for Triathlon Pink at the Sunshine Coast in just 3 weeks time 

I am having a few internal arguments about which event to enter. I was originally going to enter the Medium length (200m swim, 6km ride, 3km run) but after two weeks of training I feel like maybe I should stick with a short one as I KNOW I could hack it, as opposed to just thinking "yeah I could probably do that" with the medium. 

I am confident in running on dead legs after a ride, and I am an ok swimmer. I guess what I want to know is, is 3 weeks enough time to train myself from a 28min parkrun (5km), non-biking, non-regular-swimmer (need a break after 100m), to the medium length tri?

My PT put me through a session to help me prepare for it on Tuesday and I am still paying for it now on Friday night. I was ready to vomit! Not being able to complete the workout is what lead to my onset of self doubt. 

What would you do- security or challenge???



PS. Current training schedule:

Tues: Pilates
Wed: Program/Strength (Bike/Treadmill Brick, Lunges, Squats, Aerobike, Stairclimber), Yoga
Thurs: 1/2 program, swim (1/2 hour interval laps)
Fri: Boot Camp
Sat: Parkrun
Sun: Rest or trail run


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Hannah, for your first triathlon keep it short and fun. You will learn so much that you can build on with your PT for the next one whichever distance you then try.

    Doing a short race doesn't mean security nor a long one a challenge. What counts is how hard you push your limits. A 25min Park Run can be a greater challenge for a 28min runner than a 56min 10km.
  • AngiemacAngiemac Posts: 40

    Hi Hannah,

    My first triathlon was a Pink triathlon too - except I took the full plunge and went "long" (300m, 9Km and 3km). I knew I could do the swim, I knew I could do the cycle, but the run was daunting for me - I'd never run before. I ended up walking a lot of the run, but I finished and it inspired me to carry on.

    The question is do you want to "smash it" or "finish it"?

    If you are looking for a challenge to complete and you can swim the 200m now, I'd go medium - the 6km bike will fly past and you know you can do the run. A reasonable test is can you exercise for 60 minutes non-stop without collapsing. 

    If you want to "smash it" go short and train hard for speed in each event. 

    The most important thing is to enjoy it - and the pink triathlons are designed to be fun. Even if you go medium - don't worry about it - you will finish. The adrenaline rush and determination drag you round and as the swimming sounds like its your weakest discipline its out the way first.

    Just a suggestion with the swimming - I struggled at first to get past 50m until I slowed down and then, suddenly, I could do 200m without stopping. it's easier to say than do, but relax swimming and it will come more easily.

    Best of luck which ever distance you chose!



  • Hi Hannah

    First triathlons are always nerve racking and you want it to be an enjoyable experience.  As Angie says focus on finishing rather than smashing.  Harry also highlighted you learn a lot on your first time.

    The distance you suggested I think would be fine based on your current training schedule (providing your swimming is ok) although just for the next couple of weeks focus on your the disciplines and maybe give yoga/pilates a miss until your done although 10-15 minutes post training would help.

    Day1 Swim

    Day2 Bike

    Day 3 Run

    Day 4 Rest

    Rinse and repeat.

    It would be a good idea to get some 'brick runs' in.  Eg 20 minutes cycling then run for 15 minutes.

    Hope the above helps.

    Have a great time and enjoy your first tri.


  • Thanks so much for the replies everyone! I feel a lot more confident now in my pick- I registered for the medium today.

    You hit the nail on the head Angie, my goal is to just finish it- I don't care about time at all and am very open to just taking the bike easy and walking if I have to. I think I would feel a better sense of accomplishment to finish the medium than doing a good time in the short one. 

    Thanks for the advice Russell- I will be giving it a go this week. I have been riding to parkrun the past two weekends so I am counting them as my brick sessions. They haven't gone TOO well but I will persist!


    Harry- a 25 min parkrun- I can only dream of such things!! haha

    Thanks again!

  • AngiemacAngiemac Posts: 40

    Hi Hannah, 

    Well done, I think you'll appreciate the sense of achievement at the end - maybe not immediately but when those happy hormones kick in you'll fell wonderful. Don't forget to drink something during your event - little sips often.Come back and let us know how you got on. 

    Best of Luck to you


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