You did it! You made the plunge. You signed up for a triathlon! But, now that the excitement of submitting your registration has subsided, all of the questions start creeping in: How do I train? What gear should I get? How do I physically and mentally prepare for race day?
I’m Dan Cox, one of AfterShokz Global Ambassadors, and I’m incredibly passionate about fitness and health, especially swimming, running, and… sometimes biking. Six years ago, I completed the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon with my brother Will, who ended up beating me, so this year I’m coming back for redemption with more focused training and help from my coach. Thankfully, I’ve completed my fair share of triathlons (including the Louisville Ironman!), and I’ve made my own mistakes along the way, so I have a lot of tips to help you navigate all of these seemingly daunting questions.
First, let’s tackle training.
1. Train how you want to race
Figure out your goal for the triathlon and keep this in mind when structuring your training plan. If you are just trying to finish (which is a huge accomplishment!), then do not stress about your training times. However, if you have a specific time goal in mind, map out your training plan with workouts to meet that goal.
2. Training should be fun
Sure, not every single swim, bike, or run is going to be pure fun. But, for the most part, you should enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re not enjoying it, then why are you doing it? You might need to get creative to make your workouts fun - consider joining group rides or runs, or listening to music or podcasts, with your AfterShokz of course! Triathlon training takes a lot of time, but it’s also important to make time for your family, friends, and other hobbies, too. By doing so, you won’t feel like training is taking away from your life, but instead adding to it.
Training > Gear
Proper training will benefit you much more than the newest, most aerodynamic, high-tech gear. Yes, gear for triathlons can be cool, and it can help you improve your performance. But, keep in mind that putting in hard work is what will get you to the finish line. Identify the essential gear you need to train and race, and purchase those items first. As your training progresses, your gear needs may change. Upgrade to more sophisticated gear as needed.
Next, let’s talk about the swim, bike, and run.
1. Don’t stress the swim
Did you know that most people who complete triathlons are not swimmers? Did you know that you can literally finish last in the swim and still win the triathlon? Now, before you get too excited, that doesn't mean you shouldn't incorporate swimming into your training plan. It just means not to stress too much about it. Your training should make you feel confident in the water.
2. Get comfortable on the bike
Make sure you are comfortable on your bike. The more comfortable you are, the better you will feel during the bike and on the run. After spending a few hours on your bike, it will be obvious you need to invest in a proper bike fitting at a local bike shop. Sometimes the minor adjustments can make the most significant difference since you are on your bike for so long.
3. Enjoy the run
I love the run because it’s the last part! It’s also when you get the biggest boost from friends and family, and have an opportunity to interact with other racers, so visualize that energy during your training.
Finally, let’s talk perspective. Whether this is your first race or you have been in the sport for years, don't forget how lucky you are that you can compete and complete this experience. In the moment, it’s easy to forget that you are doing something that the majority of people in the world will never do. The fact that you are able to complete a triathlon is a HUGE achievement. The fact that you are able to push your body in a way you once thought was unimaginable is amazing. And, the fact that you are probably inspiring someone in your life through your commitment and perseverance is priceless!