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For starters #10: Five essential tips for a triathlon beginner

By Amaia Ervin-Armbarri, May 1 2024—

Entering the world of triathlon can be quite daunting, it is not just a single sport, but instead it is three at once. Don’t let this dissuade you, however, as triathlon is quite rewarding, and in fact, quite addicting. Not only will you find a community of like minded individuals, but most importantly you will be able to brag to your friends and family that you mastered three sports in one! Triathlon is characterized by a swim, typically in open water, followed by a bike ride, and then a run, with in between sections called transitions during which athletes switch their gear as fast as possible. There are a great deal of distances to conquer, ranging from the super sprint, all the way up until to an Ironman. 

Still interested in conquering the world of triathlon? As a Dinos varsity track & field athlete and triathlete myself, here are my five hot tips for beginners looking to take on the multisport world. 

1. Get in the pool, go for a bike ride and tie up those laces.

Most simply, you are going to have to commit to getting out the door. Get out your swimsuit, runing shoes, and your bike. Doing three sports in one can be a bit of a time commitment, so committing to early morning pool swims or after school or work runs is important for whatever your goals look to be in the sport. So, don’t leave your run shoes at the door unattended. Use them to go out to take your first steps into your triathlon journey. Sometimes the hardest part is getting ready for a workout, but I promise, once you are out the door, it will be so much better and easier. Plus, you’ll feel amazing afterwards! 

2. Find a local community.

Finding a local community is quite important in building up your own inner circle of training partners. Training partners are crucial, not only will they push you, but they will make all the exercise much more enjoyable. There are a range of different local communities to join, whether you are looking to join a swim, cycling, or running specific group, all the way to multisport groups. There are many formal, and informal, groups that will provide you with friends and company who share your passions and interests. Some local Calgary multisport groups include Kronos Triathlon Club and 3433 Triathlon Club. The University of Calgary hosts a triathlon swim specific program, and the Elbow Valley Cycle Club provides rides and cycling destinations for riders of all abilities. These are great opportunities to build a local network of athletes and training buddies.

3. Plan your training. Get a coach!

Planning your training is very important. It will give you a schedule to work off of and to balance having to train for three sports at once. Days can be busy between school, work, and your own personal life, so making and having a schedule also benefits in time management and planning. Maybe that’s in the form of a self designed schedule, however, having an opinion of a coach in the process is extremely important, and helpful. There are many tools for cheaper online coaching, or in person groups that will provide you with both a community and a coach. Coaching will give you the benefit of having an expert on your side to balance this three in one multisport lifestyle. Especially if you are new to the world of swimming, biking or running, having a coach to work on form and your weaknesses is extremely helpful in progressing throughout your triathlon journey.

4. Get the proper, not the most expensive, equipment.

Proper equipment does not mean the most expensive. Triathlon can very much be an elitist sport. There is so much advertising that you need certain products, when in reality, you do not. You don’t need the fanciest bike or run shoes to get the job done. Bikes are very expensive and they are going to be your most expensive equipment in triathlon. Instead of looking for new bikes, check second hand sellers which will get you a nicer bike, at a lower cost. Some places to find used bikes within Calgary include, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace and Pink Bike. Discount websites such as The Last Hunt are a great place to find cheap helmets, cycling equipment, running equipment, and shoes that are new. Look for deals and sales in local run stores and bike shops. You also don’t need to buy expensive gels or bars for exercise as there are plenty of recipes to make your own at home for a much cheaper price. A lot of the labeled sports nutrition products are quite expensive for what they are. It is much more sustainable to source and make your own nutrition for your training sessions.

5. Don’t get caught up in comparison. Focus on your own goals. 

At the end of the day, you are racing for yourself. Don’t get caught up in the big numbers of comparing your stats and data against other racers, instead focus on what you can do. Set your own personal and achievable goals for races, whether that is completing a triathlon, or having specific time goals in mind. It does not matter what everyone else is doing, it only matters what your personal goals are and how you are going to go about achieving them. 

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