I often get asked for triathlon tips by beginners who are just getting into the sport That’s an absolutely huge topic, so I decided to put together a short list of my biggest, baddest tip for each part of a triathlon race: the swim, the bike, and the run.
TIP #1: THE SWIM: CALM THE EFF DOWN!
Here’s the thing about swimming that’s different than bicycling and running. On the bike and run, if you’re pushing harder, you’ll probably go faster. It is NOT that way in the swim! Swimming is more like yoga or tai chi where it’s more about technique than brute force strength. Swimming is about learning proper technique, calming yourself down, learning how to get control of your breathing, and getting through a triathlon swim with minimal effort. Let me repeat the two most important parts of that: it’s about going a reasonable speed and keeping control of your breath.
Check out this Triathlon Taren video to see how to get control of your breathing as you start swimming for triathlon.
TIP #2: THE BIKE: DON’T KILL YOURSELF, JUST GET AERO
You should not be going all-out on the bike. You need to ease up and save your legs. If you kill yourself on the bike, trust me, you’ll have a horrible run. Don’t toast your legs! How you make up for not killing yourself on the run (and for not having a fancy triathlon bike) is to get as aerodynamic as possible. About 80% of the total drag you have to push yourself through during a triathlon is from your body. So the best thing you can do is get low and get out of the wing, staying aero.
You do this in two ways. First, go to your local bike shop and get your bike professionally fitted to your body. They’ll be able to take your bike (and that’s literally any bike you’re starting out with) and make it as aero as possible within your body’s natural limits. The second is to grab yourself a pair of clip-on aero bars (if you don’t have them on your bike already) and learn how to get down into the aero position and get comfortable there.
If you need a pair of clip-on aero bars, there’s a highly rated pair at a very reasonable price on Amazon.com (they around $80 at the time this article was written) that I really like. The setup of the bars is great for beginners. The link is right here — it is an affiliate link, so if you buy these ones, Amazon throws a couple of bucks my way which helps support the blog and the channel.
TIP #3: THE RUN: LEARN HOW TO RUN AFTER BIKING
I’ve said this in many of my videos because I can’t stress this enough. Having a good run during a triathlon isn’t about doing a whole lot of running in your training, it’s about doing a whole lot of running AFTER being on the bike. That’s what’s known as a bike-run brick workout, and you absolutely need to do these as part of your triathlon training. It’s almost a non-negotiable. Running after the bike is a really unique thing because your blood has to re-route itself from your cycling muscles into your running muscles as quickly as possible. If you’ve never conditioned your body to do this, you’re going to get off the bike and cramp up. It’s nearly inevitable.
You need to get AT LEAST six workouts in where you’re going from the bike to the run as quickly as possible. If you really want to step it up, check out the video I did for five tips on how to get the most out of a brick workout.
If you do ONLY these three things getting used to and ready for your first triathlon, you’ll be ahead of a lot of people out there (including me… my very first race didn’t go well.)