When I took the plunge and registered for my first race, I didn’t know the first thing about biking and I hadn’t been in the pool in ages.
But, after surviving (and even having a little bit of fun with) my first tri, I thought it would be fun to share what I learned so that you can get out and try your first triathlon too!
1. Anyone can do a tri, even if you aren’t a super fit or fast athlete. I was really intimidated going into my first race. I was so afraid I’d finish dead last or be the only newbie in the crowd, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. A lot of girls in my wave were first timers and we bonded before the race even started as we shared our apprehensions. And although I didn’t finish very fast, I certainly didn’t finish dead last.
2. Training for three sports at once was a little bit tricky and required more advanced planning than I was used to, but I loved the flexibility. I definitely had to pay more attention to my schedule to figure out when I could get to the pool to swim or when roads would be closed to let me bike safely, but I loved having the freedom to move workouts around. If you’re legs are feeling burnt out, you can swim or bike. If it’s raining outside, you can go to the pool and move your bike ride to a day when the weather is nicer. The flexibility was an amazing bonus I wasn’t expecting.
3. I’m glad I didn’t buy a super fancy bike. My bike still cost me a little bit more than I wanted to spend, but I’m glad I didn’t shell out thousands of dollars. Sure, the top competitors all have bikes worth more than my car, but for your first race, there’s no sense spending that money. Check Craigslist to see if you can find a cheaper used bike or borrow one from a friend. If you want to buy your own bike, make sure to try out several different models so you find one you’re comfortable with.
4. I’m glad I spent some money on quality gear. I debated for a long time whether or not I should invest in a pair of tri shorts, but after doing one of my bike rides without any padding to protect my butt, I realized they were a worthwhile purchase. Seriously, your butt will thank you.
5. Triathlons have a lot of rules and I was scared I’d break many of them and get disqualified. After finishing my first tri, I’m happy to say, if you don’t over think it, you will be just fine. I was especially worried about the bike-drafting rule, but I just rode the way that felt natural, keeping a decent distance between my bike and the person in front of me, and I found that it was pretty easy to follow the rules. So don’t let them psyche you out.
As a newbie, it’s OK to ask a million questions. There are tons of great triathlon bloggers out there who are more than happy to answer questions. I leaned on them heavily as I went through my training.
At the end of the day, the race is all about having fun and challenging yourself. As long as you stick to your training, you can go out on race day knowing you’re prepared to do your best and have fun.
If you’re curious to learn more, you can follow along on my training (mis)adventures over on my blog, Jess Runs.
About Guest Blogger Jess Milcetich:
Jess Milcetich is the runner/blogger behind Jess Runs where she talks about all aspects of running, health and fitness, including training, nutrition, motivation and making it all fun. You can follow her on Twitter @jessmilcetich.