Looking to sign up for your first triathlon? We share everything you need to know—from gear essentials and nutrition basics to mental prep and tips for hiring a coach—to help you have a successful first race.
What are your triathlon goals?
As part of your intro to the sport, consider why you’re taking up triathlon to begin with and what you hope to gain from the experience. Are you motivated purely by the desire to have fun and expand your social circle? Are you looking for a fitness kick in the pants to battle the bulge of middle age? Were you inspired by media coverage of a seemingly impossible pursuit? Are you an athletic type already, aiming to be a serious contender? Whatever your reasons at the start, formulating your goals and priorities will help you plan a race season best suited to your desires and strengths.
As you peruse race calendars looking for key events, consider a number of variables and options. Local races are likely to be packed with friends and family for those who thrive on race-day support, while destination travel races can be a unique and wonderful way to explore foreign lands and cultures, albeit slightly outside your comfort zone. Also take into account factors such as altitude (can you tolerate oxygen deprivation, or are you better off at sea level?), weather (will you perform best in hot or cool temperatures, and in a dry or humid climate?) and the course itself (do you prefer an ocean or fresh-water swim, and a hilly or flat course?). Calculate how much time you can allot to training and racing, and be proactive in communicating your plans with your partner or family. Involving those closest to you in your newfound sport and being honest about the anticipated time commitment will go a long way toward avoiding issues of stress and resentment that can develop if an athlete’s focus on triathlon becomes obsessive.