Resolution #1: Run Better Off the Bike
Even the most seasoned runners fall victim to that familiar “dead legs” feeling after dismounting the bike, but there are ways to power through. “As triathletes, we never run fresh,” says pro triathlete Tim O’Donnell of Boulder, Colo., one of world’s top-ranked long-distance racers. “So we need to learn to how to run fast when tired.” A longtime swimmer, O’Donnell’s transformation to a triathlete entailed completing all of this runs off of the bike or out of the water. “For long runs, I would spin for 45 to 60 minutes before the run to adapt,” he says. “I would also do my easy runs after hard swim sessions on the treadmill.”
Resolution #2: Swim Stronger
While the thought of donning a wetsuit and slipping into a murky body of water with a group of strangers may not give you the warm and fuzzies, swimming is actually the easiest part of a triathlon to improve upon. If you have little experience, enlist the help of a swim instructor to get the basics down. “Many masters groups cater to triathletes and offer technique tips as well as challenging workouts in a group environment,” says Cami Stock, a former pro triathlete who now heads Wild Blue Racing out of Colorado Springs, Colo. Another tip? Enter yourself in a swim meet to get the feel for swimming fast in competitive environment.
Resolution #3: Make More Time to Train
Some days, you hardly have time to brush your teeth, yet alone head out for that planned two-hour ride. How to deal? Commit to a training schedule based on what you can realistically get done, suggests pro triathlete Becky Lavelle, who doubles as a stay-at-home-mom. “Don’t get hung up on what can’t be done—focus on what you can do,” says Lavelle, who suggests shortening and intensifying workouts on days when you’re really lacking time. It can also hold yourself accountable to someone else: Convince a coworker or neighbor to register for a race with you, then schedule a regular meet-up to swim, bike or run.
Resolution #4: Save Money
We’ll be the first to admit it: Triathlon is a pricey sport. But there are ways to get by without zeroing out your savings account. Start by investing in the important stuff: Properly-fitting running shoes, goggles that don’t leak, a well-fitting tri kit and a good helmet. Borrow or rent the rest until you’re completely committed to the sport. “I did my first triathlon with a borrowed bike from my friend’s garage,” says Stock. “There is always an opportunity for upgrade, which makes this sport so fun.” And when it comes to races, go local. A large portion of triathlon costs are tied to travel, so save on gas and hotels (and the dreaded baggage fee on airlines) by finding a race you can drive to.