Fitness & Nutrition

10 Steps to Become a Triathlete

Triathletes are not superhuman. I believe this connotation came from the famous ultra-triathlon series IRONMAN. In an Ironman Triathlon, athletes swim, cycle, and run for a total of 140.6 miles in one day. Not all triathletes compete in Ironman races.

Let me put your mind at ease. Becoming a triathlete may be easier than you may think. Let’s dig-in to 10 steps that will get you to the finish line.

1. Find your why.

There is no way around it. Triathlon training requires hard work and discipline. Before signing up for a race, define your why. Write it down and read it every day.

2. Choose your adventure.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Triathlons—like people—come in all shapes and sizes. You must choose and sign-up for the distance you’d like to compete in. General distances include:

  • Try-a-tri: Beginner level. 400 m swim, a 10 km bike, and a 2.5 km run.
  • Sprint Triathlon: Amateur level. 750 m swim, 20 km bike, and a 5 km run.
  • Olympic or Full Triathlon: Advanced level. 1500 m swim, 40 km bike, and a 3 km swim.

3. Get the gear.

You don’t need fancy gear to be a triathlete. All you need is a bike, a swim suit, and a pair of runners. If you decide to make triathlons a hobby after your first race, I recommend investing in a triathlon suit, and a road bike.

4. Pick a training plan.

Choose a training plan that fits your lifestyle. Training Peaks is a great website that offers killer plans for minimal fees.

5. Become one with the water.

Photo by Emily Rose on

I highly recommend investing in swimming lessons if you’re not comfortable in water. Your local YMCA will do.

Open water swimming is a whole other ball game so don’t let race day be your first day in the ocean. If you’re not experienced in open water, you have the option to try out a pool triathlon. Once you gain confidence, swim with a few friends and let them knock you around. Body contact with other swimmers is inevitable. No one wants to be the person who’s rescued on race day.

6. Make friends that are ahead of you.

The best part of triathlons is the people! If you don’t have a “tri-friend”, join your local triathlon club. Lean on experienced triathletes to walk you through the logistics of the race.

7. Use all of the free resources.

Every race offers an informational session where organizers discuss the transitions and race logistics. Some races even offer clinics for new triathlon newbies. Use all the resources that are available to you.

8. Complete a dry-run and visualize the race.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Complete the course before race day if you have the chance. If that’s not possible, visualize the race in detail: your swim start, transitions, cycle, everything. This will help calm any pre-race jitters.

9. Bike check.

Most races require a mandatory bike check. These are generally done on site or at an independent cycle shop. Make sure you get the check done even if the check is not mandatory. You are putting yourself, and others, in danger if your bike doesn’t meet the requirements.

10. Rock the race and celebrate!

There’s nothing more important on race day than having fun!

Volunteers will be on-site to cheer you on and guide you through the transitions. Completing a triathlon—no matter the distance—is a major accomplishment. Take a minute to relish the moment, get your “bling pic”, and high-five some friends. You did it!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

We are judged by what we finish, not what we start.


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