Run, Bike, Swim: Triathlon

The triathlon has a very daunting reputation.  Swim, bike, and run in one day…wait, do it all in one race?  Who would want to do that?  I used to think the same thing when friends of mine started doing triathlons.  Then I started doing triathlons after an awful soccer injury to my right knee.  I needed a goal, and one that would be a bit easier on my joints than a contact sport or running a marathon.  I found it in the triathlon.  For me, it caters to my chaos driven personality that thrives on the idea of changing activities, not to mention avoiding boredom and repetitive motion.  Yes, a triathlon can be (in some cases) competitive and long, but it can also be fun, short and liberating.  I quickly became a Triathlon Coach after starting my Personal Training career, and love proving to people that they are capable of conquering the triathlon.  I want to debunk some of the myths about triathlon in hopes of encouraging more people to give it a shot.


1. You have to work out for 8 hours a day to do a triathlon.  WRONG.  There are 4 official distances of a triathlon- Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman, and Ironman distance.  While the Ironman distances do take quite a bit of training time, the sprint and olympic distances are very attainable for anyone who wants to try something new and can swim, bike, and run.

2. You have to look like a Greek god to do a triathlon. WRONG.  One of the first tips I give someone as a coach is to go and watch a sprint triathlon.  There will be all shapes and sizes, all ages and abilities- that is exactly what makes it so inspiring.

3. You need to spend thousands of dollars on triathlon equipment. WRONG.  If you have a pair of shoes, a bathing suit, goggles, and a bike, you CAN do a triathlon.  You may not be the fastest person on the course if you are riding a mountain bike, but that just makes it more admirable.  Do not sell yourself short because of the equipment you have.

4. You need to be Michael Phelps to do a triathlon. WRONG.  Yes, you need to learn the basics of swimming to ensure your safety in the water, but you do not need to be able to win any gold medals to do a triathlon.  Find a pool, take a couple of lessons, and practice in the open water. 

     Doing a triathlon can be extremely liberating, and it is a great accomplishment.  It can also be a lot of fun.  Get a few of your friends to do it with you, and practice together.   Maintain your strength training to avoid injury, and try to practice each activity 2x a week.  Here are some more tips on each discipline in a triathlon.

The SWIM- Practice swimming 2x a week, and make sure to practice a few times in open water before your race day.  The last thing you want is to work hard and then panic because you are not comfortable in the ocean, lake, or river.  Here is a website with beginner drills to practice in the pool:

Practice Swim Workout (Beginner, Intermediate)

100 Warm Up

100 Kick

8x50 Intervals (50 at Max Effort, 50 at recovery pace)

100 Pull

4x25 Sprint (30 seconds rest in between each)

100 Cool Down

The BIKE- Make sure you have a bike that is tuned up and functional.  Although a road bike or hybrid bike are preferred because of their lightness, I have definitely seen people do a triathlon on a mountain bike.  Practice on your bike outside, and take a spin class once a week if you have one available at your gym.  Just remember to practice outside as much as possible.  A spin bike may be great for conditioning, but it will never prepare you for the actual terrain you may encounter on the road. 

Practice Bike Workout (Beginner, Intermediate)

10 Mile Time Trial- Complete a 10 mile ride in the fastest time possible

Every month, redo the time trial and see how you have improved!

The RUN- Mix it up.  For example, in a sprint tri the run is 3.1 Miles (5K).  This does not mean all of your practice runs should be 2-3 miles.  Do speed workouts at the track, intervals, hills, and distance runs.  It will really pay off on race day when your legs are tired and you want to stop.  Prepare yourself for everything.

Practice Run Workout (Beginner, Intermediate)

Find a 400M Track

2x600M Run (as fast as possible, 2 minutes rest between each)

4x400M Run (as fast as possible, 90 seconds rest between each)

4x200M Run (as fast as possible, 1 minute rest between each)

*Time all runs and record*

     The most important thing about any fitness routine is to change it up and HAVE FUN.  Triathlon training will most definitely get you into better shape, but can also be a lot of fun.  Get outside, and find a group of friends to practice with.  Most importantly, do not be intimidated.  Triathlons are not as scary as you think, and you ARE capable of finishing one.


July 28, 2013 CRABMAN SPRINT TRIATHLON, South Kingstown Town Beach, Matunuck Beach, RI

August 11, 2013 WILD DOG TRIATHLON, Colt State Park, Bristol

September 22, 2013 OCEAN COMMUNITY YMCA TRIATHLON, Westerly Town Beach, Westerly