The Definitive 10 Tips For New Triathletes

Are you ready to take on a triathlon? Fantastic, let’s get you started. Below are top ten tips to have a great first race. Check out the links embedded in the tips to dig deeper into each topic. Happy training, and I hope you have great first triathlon.

1. To get started, Sign up for a race

Close up of sign up form

Signing up to the race sounds kind of obvious, but  is very important. First, signing up tells your brain it’s go time.With that race day looming in the near future you will be more committed to train. . Second, choose a race that gives you the proper amount of time to train, but not lose your motivation. A training cycle of 8-12 weeks works well for new triathletes. Lastly, after you sign up, tell your family and friends. They will know you are serious about your new goal, and be your support system.

7 Tips for Selecting Your First Triathlon

2. Choose a great training plan, and find a partner.


A great training plan is the key to ensure you show up for the race ready. The plan should layout your workouts week by week leading up to the race. Choose a plan that fits into your schedule. Also, be realistic about your current ability. Be care not to choose a plan beyond your current fitness. Too much training volume too quick is the recipe for injury/burnout.

If possible talk someone else into being your training partner. A training partner provides encouragement and accountability. You are less likely to hit that snooze button seven times when that alarm goes off at 5:30 am on Saturday, if you know you have to meet your training partner at 6:30 for your long run.

Check for some great plans.

*The official First Time Triathlete plan is coming soon. 

3. Become a confident fish in the water.


Be a fish in the water, not a fish out of water in the water. (yeah that makes sense). For new triathletes the number one concern is swimming. The water is an unfamiliar environment,  and the more time you can spend swimming the more comfort you will gain. You don’t have to be Micheal Phelps to complete your race, but you need confidence in the water. Having confidence in your swim will keep you calm and smooth in the water. Smooth is fast.

Three Steps to Overcoming Swim Fears

4. Do BRICK work, but not too much.

Brick Workout

A BRICK is a bike to run workout. The purpose of a BRICK is to work on the transition from bike to run. It’s a great idea to fit in a few of these sessions to your triathlon training cycle. Don’t get carried away, and think you have to do these workouts all of the time. It is better to work on biking and running individually, and sprinkle in some bricks. A BRICK workout every couple weeks is plenty.

Intro to Brick Workouts

5. Practice transitions

Beach 2 Battleship_0093

Transitions are the fourth sport of triathlon. To get efficient at transitioning from swim to bike to run, takes some practice. A small amount of practice on transitions goes a long way toward saving time. During your training cycle build in a few transition practice sessions. On race day you will be confident, and transitioning like a pro.

6. Preview the course

2010 HM Course MapIf you have the chance before race day, drive or pre-ride the race course. Having knowledge of the course is a big advantage. You can run through the course in your mind to increase confidence. You won’t second guess if you are going the right way. You will also know the area wher you an can and where you need to back off. I once did not heed this advice, and suffered greatly. I was racing an Olympic distance triathlon on the hottest day of the year. At the 4k point of the run, there was 6 sets of stairs with 30 steps each. I was already at my limit, and the stairs blew up my run.

7. On race day plan, don’t stress

medium_5790013440Failing to plan is planning to fail, so the saying goes. On race morning you can’t control everything, but control what you can. Having a plan for your transportation, gear, food, family, potty, etc., will let you focus on your race.

More tips on Reducing Race Morning Anxiety

8. Pre-Race & Race Nutrition

Original_ Buttermilk_Pancakes

During training figure out what foods work best for you. Have a plan for your nutrition, and try to stick to it. Nothing new on race day. Don’t let an upset stomach leave you heaving on the side of the road, instead of flying to the finish.

9. Practice in open water

origin_3936735160An open water swim is the most daunting part of the race for most triathletes. We are land animals, and jumping into the water with a washing machine of arms and legs is not natural. To get more comfortable in open water, practice in open water. Before your race try to get in a few open water swims. Try out your wet suit and goggles. These swims will help you build your confidence, and will pay off greatly on race day.

Enter the washing machine – Tips for your first open water triathlon swim

10. Make your goal to finish

Jim's First Triathlon Finish

Try not to get hung up on finish time for your first race. If this is your first race, make your goal to finish. You already put in all of the hard work in training. Your race is a just a parade of your awesomeness. There will plenty of other races to stress about getting faster. Enjoy your first race, and celebrate your accomplishment.


11. Cheer on fellow racers

You areHigh Five out there being awesome, and so is everyone else. Let other racers know. Give high fives, offer encourage to a struggling racer, or just smile. Your positive is energy is contagious, and greatly appreciated.

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