Just out of curiosity what kind are you training for? Sprint, Olympic, half ironman or ironman.
I have done 2 sprints and trained for an olympic but ended up getting Lymes desease so I had to cancel.
Get a workout schedule online and follow it. Get a wetsuit, practice your transition period and practice changing a flat tire. Make sure you do bricks, it will help you put the swim, ride and run together.
Most important it is not a job learn to have fun. It helped me to have training partners.
I started them last year (sprints). I've signed up for Olympics this year, one of which includes the swim in a river. THAT will be challenging.
1. Balance your workout with run, swim, and bike, but if you have a weakness, work more on it (mine is swimming I think).
2. Work in some brick workouts where you transition from swim to bike or bike to run. That bike/run transition is funny feeling on the legs. Fast paced 3-5 mile ride, then run a mile, then back to bike...
3. Train with friends if possible. Our area has triathlon training groups for beginners. That's what my wife and I did as we prepped for the sprints.
4. Consider finding some duathlons in the area (usually run/bike/run) to get some practice in.
5. For swim and run, consider speed workouts to increase your overall speed, though the speed sections may be shorter (such as 50m sprint in pool or race pace + for an 800m section). repeat.
6. Focus on good nutrition to get the nutrients you need. With the endurance stuff, I found myself getting iron deficient, so I upped the spinach and red meat consumption (along with more supplements).
I do not use any protein shake stuff or any of that powder stuff from places like GNC. Natural foods and supplement (pills) only for me.
As jeepTB mentioned, your tri length will really dictate how you train. If the triathlon uses a pool, get pool time in. If it is open water, get open water time in. If you will need a wet suit for the swim, get it now and get practicing with it, but not every swim session. If you can't get to open water for training, go to a pool while they're doing a water aerobics class. The water will churn pretty good and give you a more realistic feel for open water.
Above all, do it and HAVE FUN with it!!!! Don't stress about getting on the podium for your age group. You'll come up against a lot of folks in your age group that have things down and FLY. I don't stress about my swim speed. Going relaxed, but efficient pace/form, is better than going balls to the wall furious only to finish with maybe 20 seconds difference. If that is the case, practice transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. I have bike shoes and running shoes (clips on bike). I use speed laces that I don't have to tie. Little tricks like that are where you can really gain some good time with a bit of practice.
You won't lose it on the swim timewise, but you can certainly help yourself in the transition area by laying out gear logically and ready to use. I even put a bit of babypowder in rolled up socks so I can go from swim to bike without worrying about socks sticking to wet feet... little tips like that will help too.
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Keep moving forward. But keep an eye on history, for if you don't, you are doomed to repeat it.
I've done all sorts of distances up to Half Ironman. Most important is to pick a training plan based on your abilities and the distance you want to compete in and stick to it. I recommend googling different training programs. Theres probably about 100 various websites that have similar ones, but your best bet is to find one from USA Triathlon (governing organization).
If this is your first one and you aren't sure if you caught the bug, then don't go out and blow tons of money on a wet-suit, tri-bike and other gear. If its your first then I recommend using what you have. I did my first few years in Minnesota where the water temp rarely got above 65 and I was perfectly fine without a wet-suit. I use one now, but only for the added performance benefit. You'll be more than fine with a pair of tri shorts (at least get these). Side note, use tri shorts and not bike shorts. They have a padded butt still, but not as thick as traditional bike shorts. You'll appreciate it on the run so it doesn't feel like you're carrying a load in your shorts.
Can't emphasize this enough. DO BRICK WORKOUTS. Its always obvious at the transition areas when somebody hasn't done a brick workout before. Typically they're the ones who go to hop off their bike to start the run and end up falling flat on their face because they weren't ready for the change in muscles used.
Open water swimming is important because its a lot different in open water than a pool. Its alright to do a lot of training in the pool, but be prepared for the open water. It can be choppy and the fact that you can't see bottom can affect your swim. Both mentally and by how straight you swim.
This ones important. If this is your first tri, then don't try to be in the front/middle of the swim pack. You will be punched/kicked/swam-over and it'll be a shock. Just stay to the back and outside and let the veterans semi drown each-other as they fight for a spot.
Figure out your fuel requirements. Some people like GU, some like apples, some like muffins. Personally I like Sport Beans mixed with some apples and bananas. Learn what fuel your body likes the night before and morning of the event. Make sure to eat, you'll regret it if you don't.
Go the bathroom before the race. Take a dump no matter what.
And of course, HAVE FUN. The tri crowd is a great and supporting one. Definitely see if there is a local tri club near you. They'll be able to help you out the most with your personal needs.
I am starting with sprints, next year or two I would like to work up to a half ironman. I am starting by doing some runs first. Running is my weak point, so I have signed up for some 5 and 10k's to kind of force myself to work on it.
1. Don't over exert yourself on any single event. The idea behind a triathlon is for endurance and if you're swimming with a heartrate around 160+, then you can be sure you'll burn out before the end. I highly recommend a heartrate monitor for this very reason. I am fond of my Polar FT4. You can pick one up at REI for around $80-$100
2. I carry mustard packets with me while on the course. I learned this trick from some old timers last summer and it really works. Basically if you are starting to cramp then you just consume a mustard packet and BOOM the cramp goes away. I'm sure of the exact science, but it has something to do with the vinegar in the mustard and tricking your brain to flush out the acid??? Either way I know it works for me. That little trick came in handy at about mile 10 of the run during my Half Ironman last summer.