The triathlon combination of swimming, cycling, and running engages muscular and cardiovascular endurance at a level unmatched by most other activities. To succeed, you need to be in shape and well prepared before the race day.
There are hundreds of detailed training plans to help you get ready for a triathlon, written by highly qualified athletes and trainers. Elisabeth Skibba, a triathlete currently preparing for 2012’s Vineman Tri, suggests staying away from one-size-fits-all plans found online.
“While there are many good training plans online or in books, I highly recommend working with a coach specific to triathlon. A coach can see your strengths and opportunities, offer specific advice, and tips to help improve performance.” One of her examples is for proper foot placement on the bike, which she never would have been aware of if not for her trainer. “By changing that small thing, I was able to gain more power.”
Start with a sprint triathlon
Sprint triathlons are about one-half the distance of an Olympic length event. These are a good introduction to the sport and can help you train while keeping you on track. Even if your ultimate goal is a full-length triathlon, scheduling a sprint about two months before the Olympic event is a good idea. In fact, Skibba likens it to running a half marathon prior to a full marathon.
“Every beginner should start with a sprint or short course triathlon. There is so much to learn in doing a triathlon correctly,” agrees Ria Farmer, a triathlete with almost ten triathlons under her belt who recently finished Oklahoma City’s Redman Tri. “There is more to a triathlon than just swimming, biking, and running. There is equipment, nutrition, transitions, and proper training.”
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