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How to do a sprint triathlon
How I did it: I decided I wanted to get into shape, so I convinced a friend to a sprint triathlon with me. We looked for a triathlon that was well enough in the future that we'd have plenty of time to train.
Because I was starting out from total couch potato, I decided to focus on the swim and the bike, because you can walk the run,but you sure can't walk the swim or the bike! I also looked for a triathlon that had a friendly reputation, because I was such a total beginner that I wanted a really nice one. The other thing I did was to look for a local triathlon club. A lot of them take athletes at all levels, and I was lucky enough to find a super-friendly group that really did have activities geared towards all levels, including utter beginners like me.
It was a fantastic experience! I was slow, but I finished! And I was a darn sight faster than everyone who's never tried one. It's an amazing rush to finish something you thought you'd never be able to do. It really helped me get into shape, and I really love cycling now.
Lessons & tips:
- Be honest with yourself in judging your fitness level. I was starting from scratch, so I gave myself 5 months.
- Get a buddy! Find a friend to do it with you. Even if they're not nearby, you can still email and call each other to offer encouragement and accountability.
- Tell everyone you know that you're doing it. Then you can't back out!
- Find a triathlon and sign up. Sign up well ahead of time, they often sell out of slots. Also, when choosing one, take into consideration how strong a swimmer you are, because that might help you pick a triathlon with a lake swim versus an ocean swim. (I picked lake. I'm not a great swimmer.)
- There are a ton of resources online. Use them!
- Get a training plan and stick to it.
- Set goals that will make you train hard but that aren't impossible. Be proud of what you do. If you're slower than you wanted to be, if other people pass you... remember that finishing is, in and of itself, a HUGE accomplishment.
- Go for it!
- Sprint Training programs
- Tri-Newbies, a great website.
- Slow Fat Triathlete, an incredibly motivating website and book for people who thought they'd never be able to do a triathlon.
- The Danskin women's-only triathlon series. Very beginner-friendly, although a bit crowded!
- A Couch-to-5k running program geared towards beginners. In my opinion, absolutely the best training program for the beginning runner.
- Find a triathlon club near you.