Beginner triathlon training tips

Where, when and how to train for a triathlon

Training for a triathlon is a unique experience with the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running offering triathletes a challenging test of the mind and body. Getting started in triathlon training really isn't so difficult and should hopefully be a rewarding experience. Here's our beginner's guide to triathlon training in the early days.

Beginner triathlon training tips

Where to train for a triathlon

With jogging, running and cycling, virtually nowhere is out of bounds when it comes to triathlon training. From treadmills and static bikes at the gym to the great outdoors, the possibilities are endless. Some people never venture from the roads whilst others triathlon train almost exclusively on paths, trails and in local parks — the choice really is yours.

A sensible approach is to start training locally and then venture further afield as you progress. That way, when building up, you are never far from home. Varying your routes is a must; even the most committed triathlete tires of following the same circuit session after session, so use your local knowledge to keep your sessions fresh.

Swimming is obviously more limited — unless you have your own pool, that is. To make the most of your swim sessions, plan them carefully so you get the absolute maximum out of your triathlon training. Hone your powers of concentration and focus during your time in the pool.

When to train for a triathlon
From early morning through to lunchtime and late evening, everyone has their favourite time to exercise and train, and flexibility is one of the great pluses with all three triathlon disciplines. Physiologically, early afternoon has been found to be the best time to train; the body is fully woken up and loose and you have had the opportunity to get well fuelled and hydrated. However, if for example midnight is the most suitable session for your circumstances, there’s nothing to stop you training whenever you wish.

If you triathlon train first thing in the morning, as well as a great start to the day, you really boost your metabolic rate (the speed at which your body burns calories). This takes effect during your session and for several hours afterwards, which is a great weight management strategy.

Principles of training for a triathlon

It is common to think that when a training improvement is made, for example running further or swimming faster over a given distance in the pool, that the improvement has been made at that specific time. In fact that is not the case; the improvement has been made some time previously, following an earlier triathlon training session.

During the training session, it is the measurable results that are registered in the form of quicker times or further distances. This is because of the way the body responds to triathlon training. When exercising, the body is challenged. Following a training session, when the body is at rest, it adapts, gets stronger and improvements can be measured during a subsequent session. Hence the most important component of any training program is rest, so that the body is able to adapt to triathlon training. Inadequate rest can result in excessive fatigue, loss of motivation and at worst, injury.

You may be a beginner but there''s no reason not to get signed up to your first event, so why take a look at our triathlon event listings and tackle your first triathlon.

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