5 Rites of Passage Every Tri Newbie Must Experience

We smooth out your learning curve and let you in on the rites of passage every triathlete must go through in their first year.

Photo: Getty Images

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Every spring, a fresh group of aspiring triathletes, armed with positive attitudes, a keyboard, and a sprinkling of naiveté, light up the Googleverse with search queries like “beginner triathlon training,” “beginner triathlon tips,” or the always shock-inducing “how much does a triathlon bike cost?” If you’re one of these athletes, then I’m going to smooth out your learning curve and let you in on the rites of passage every triathlete must go through in their first year.

1. Swimming as a kid is not the same as swimming as an adult.
The first time you swim, you’ll realize the “Don’t Drown Levels 1-7” you took as a kid did nothing to help you swim laps as an adult. The trick to swimming is learning how to be calm in the water: Do drills like sink- downs and blowing bubbles with your face in the water to build comfort and make swimming more enjoyable.

2. Bike seats are to bums as legos are to feet.
The often- experienced but rarely talked about saddle sore. Don’t fret. Wash your bike shorts regularly, get a saddle recommended from a bike shop, and slather on chamois butter. Your
undercarriage will thank you.

3. Everyone wears spandex and you will too.
How non-triathletes go through life not realizing that everyone… EVERYONE… looks good in lycra is beyond me. Give it a few months and you’ll be showing off your high cycling socks and floral jersey too.

4. It’s OK to spend your kid’s college savings at the bike store.
When you cross the finish line of that sprint-distance race 20 seconds faster than you would have without that $4,000 aero wheelset, you won’t care that Billy now hastogotoastate college instead of Stanford.

5. Your body might be 90-percent water, but your legs are 77-percent cement.
Ever heard of brick workouts? Get to know and love them. Without doing six to eight bike-to-run workouts prior to your first triathlon, you’re headed for Crampsville when you head out of T2.

“Triathlon Taren” Gesell is best known for his “Triathlon Taren” YouTube channel, the “Triathlon Taren Podcast,” and the “Triathlon Trainiask Podcast” where he helps new triathletes learn about the sport.

Trending on Triathlete

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.