The world of triathlon competition can be pretty overwhelming for anybody, especially for those brand new to the sport. There’s so much to learn, so much to do, so much to buy, but don’t let that deter you from becoming part of this great lifestyle. Cardiovascular sports have many health benefits, including fat loss, an increase in energy levels, a lean, muscular physique, and a better sense of self. Just for those reasons alone, you shouldn’t let anything keep you back from training for and competing in a triathlon.
If you do fall under the beginner category, it is highly recommended that you first compete in a sprint distance triathlon for your first race. It usually consists of a 750m swim, a 20km bike, and a 5km run. These distances are definitely manageable for a first time tri-athlete, especially if you stick to a good training program. But before you make that leap into preparing to compete in all three sports, you need to build up your endurance by concentrating on just one. Start by training in that one sport for 4 days a week, increasing the distance by a factor of 10% every week.
As a disclaimer, the first week or two will be tough as you build up your cardiovascular base, but you’ll soon begin to see the tremendous physical and health benefits as your stamina increases. Remember, though, that overtraining can be just as harmful, if not worse, than not training at all. Contrary to what you may have formerly believed, it is during your periods of rest that your body repairs itself and grows stronger. In training for a sprint triathlon and any triathlon, for that matter, you must include a week of lower intensity (about 40% decrease) every month. You will find that after this much needed break, you will return to your normal routine with renewed vigor, making your workouts more effective and efficient.
After a period of 3-5 months of building up your stamina, you are now ready to incorporate the other two sports into your regimen. You will find that introducing two new sports into your training will greatly The goal is twice a week for each individual sport. This is where you can determine what works best for you. If you like going six days on, one day off, then train that way. Some people like to knock out two sports in one day, or even all three, allowing them to rest 2-3 days out of the week instead of just one day. Determine which rotation works best for you as far as results and schedule. Make changes when and where you need to confuse your body so that you don’t hit a plateau. Some days you just won’t feel like exercising, but if you keep at it and remain consistent, your hard work will definitely pay off during the race.
While training for a sprint triathlon as a beginner, it is very important that you don’t obsess too much with how fast you are swimming, cycling, or running. Your focus should be on being able to perform all three sports for as long as possible without stopping. Get especially comfortable with swimming continuously for at least half a mile; a mile would be even better. If you build up your endurance to the point that you are able to complete distances beyond what you will be performing on game day, you’ll have nothing to worry about during the race. Speed will come as you get a few triathlons under your belt and you begin to really get your feet wet in the triathlon world.
While in the race, just relax and take it all in. This is something you have worked for, and this should be the celebration of a past year’s worth of toil and sweat. Have a fun mentality. If it requires you to whistle like the Seven Dwarfs, then all the more power to you! And like everything else in life, start small and take the baby steps. Establishing the right way to train and compete now will help you out tremendously in the future. Then, when you are ready to make the big steps, you will succeed.
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