Triathlon Training...it's own science!

Training for triathlons is one of the hardest parts for beginners in the sport. Where do you begin? Most first time triathletes are already somewhat athletic so they are in shape, while others are trying to challenge themselves and want to start slow. There is no exact right-or-wrong way to go about training for a triathlon. So the following are suggestions. Try them or use them as ideas for your training program.

Where to start...

The first thing to do before you even run a step, swim a stroke or pedal a bike is buy a training log. A training log is used to record daily workouts and how you felt, this becomes an important part. Training logs allow triathletes to keep track of mileage (so they don't overtrain) and how their body is feeling. Sometimes it can help to stop sickness or injury.

The log will also help in later years, you can look back and evaluate what worked or didn't work in your training program. This can prevent future training mistakes.

Step 2...

Step 2 involves being honest with yourself. What kind of shape are you really in? What category do you fall in...

Beginner "First-Timer"

A beginner is someone who is not from a strong athletic background or does not regularly workout. It is important for beginners to start training slowly. There are a couple of reasons a beginner should start slowly. The first one is the human body needs to adapt to exercise, muscles need to be built gradually. There are very few people's bodies that can handle just "jumping in" to a strenuous training program without getting hurt. The second reason for a beginner to start training slowly is if training is hard right from the beginning, chances are the training will be miserable. The soreness and injuries that could result could lead to a "bad overall experience". Bad experiences are usually not something a person likes to repeat, so many times beginners will be frustrated and stop training all together. Recommendations for a beginner are to start with easy swimming 3 times a week. Swimming is non-impact, increases flexibility adds strength and gets the cardiovascular system strong. Biking should be attempted 4-5 times a week. Don't worry about being "fast", just try to get comfortable with sitting on a bike and being comfortable riding with other cars and riders around. Running is the part of training most people get hurt from,running needs to be started slowly. The impact on the legs, creates soreness and can be frustrating. START SLOWLY! Run only 3-4 times your first week of training AT THE MOST. Do short runs and on grass or trails if possible. Runs don't have to be all running at the beginning. Do intervals of running with walking. Over a period of a few weeks your body will adapt, and you can change the amount of running verses walking and increase the distance.

Intermediate "First-Timer"

An intermediate could be classified as someone who participates in an athletic activity pretty regularly (4-6 times a week). The activity is somewhat strenuous and they are physically fit. Suggestions for training in the swim and bike are the same. Swimming and biking are non-impact so you can train as you feel comfortable with. You might want to start out with 3-5 times a week with each. On the bike and swim, focus on technique and feeling comfortable during each activity. You might want to consider joining a swim team or biking with a group. Find groups or teams that are around your speed that will be easy and enjoyable to swim or ride with. Training with other people will let you learn from them about training or other training ideas. Plus, it makes time go by much faster. Once again the run needs to be started slow, but since you are starting with more overall fitness than a beginner, time or distance can be increased at a faster rate. Start with 20-25 minutes for a run, then gradually increase one run a week by 5 minutes. The next week increase two runs during the week by 5 minutes and continue building. Start with low intensity and as you gain strength and stamina,go harder.

Advanced "First-Timer"

This is the first-time triathlete who ran, swam or biked competitively in the past. Triathlon is a huge "immigration sport" Many athletes from one the three individual disciplines switch to the sport. It is easier for them to "pick up" the sport because they need to only add training in two other sports. While this group needs to start gradually as well, they usually are already "fit "in one sport, so they can train hard in that one sport, while starting slowly with the other two individual sports. My recommendation would be to keep with your usual training plan and add the other two sports slowly. Your body will need time to adapt to the new sports. So look above for ideas. Athletes can usually recognize their limitations, so just listen to what your body is telling you.

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