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Take on your first triathlon: top tips from four beginners

Dive into triathlon: these beginners share their journeys, fears, and tips. Get inspired and find out how to start training for your first triathlon.

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Want to give triathlon a go but feeling a bit intimidated by it all? The thought of taking on an event, which has not just one discipline but three – swimming, cycling and running – can get your heart racing before you’ve even stepped out of the house. You might think that triathlon is a sport reserved for top-level athletes. But in reality, the world of swim-bike-run really is more accessible than you might think. Triathlon offers up races and events for everyone – from first-timers to professional athletes. That means wherever you are in your fitness journey there’s no reason you can’t become a triathlete, too.

Taking the first step is the hardest part of trying a new sport. Whether that’s signing up to a race so that you have a clear goal. Or confronting the discipline you’re most nervous about (which for so many people is almost always the swim). But once you take the plunge, this triathlon thing can actually become quite addictive…

If you’re looking to take on your first triathlon, the best way to get going with your triathlon training is to break it down into the three sports: swimming, cycling, and running. You don’t need to be doing brick sessions (back-to-back training sessions) right away. First, get comfortable with each discipline. Clock up some easy, enjoyable miles on the bike. Join your local master’s swimming group to build confidence in the water. And for advice and support on all things triathlon, find a local tri club. Once you’ve got into a routine and you’re feeling more confident with each discipline you can begin to adapt your training to the race you’ve signed up for, be it a sprint, Olympic, or maybe even longer!

How these beginners started in triathlon

These four triathlon beginners tell us how they discovered the sport, what their major fears were and how they overcame them.

Oyinda Okunowo
OYINDA OKUNOWO
Gymshark athlete and Shreddy trainer
Background

I am a fitness trainer for Shreddy, an app where I produce some of the daily workouts. I’m also a Gymshark athlete and content creator. When I was younger, I used to play professional football, but I stopped when I was 18, which is what had me searching for something else I could get…

Getting started

I have never done a triathlon before but love the thought of doing one and setting myself a new challenge. I began running again during Covid and am now working on my swimming and cycling technique.

BIGGEST worry

I had a traumatic experience while I was swimming when I was younger, which has left me a little rattled when it comes to getting in the pool. But I’m keen to overcome this fear.

first race

I haven’t booked one yet…

top tip

Don’t be scared about learning something new for the first time. It’s Ok to be an adult to learn how to swim and overcome your fears. Take it one step at a time. No one’s judging you, take your time.

future plans
I’d like to continue working on the triathlon disciplines and in the near future I hope to take part in a triathlon.
Luke Massie
Luke Massie
Entrepreneur
Background

I am an entrepreneur and businessman. I founded my first company when I was 17 and sold it in a year. In 2014, I founded Vibe Tickets, a peer-to-peer ticket marketplace for users to buy and sell tickets, followed by VibePay in 2018.

Getting started

When I turned 30, in February 2023, I felt like I needed to do something… you could call it a midlife crisis. So I booked Ironman Bolton. Once I had the date, I had a goal. Something to work towards.

BIGGEST worry

I have always stayed quite fit, as I used to play football. So while I was confident with the running, swimming and cycling I was a little more apprehensive about, so I took some swimming lessons and now I actually really enjoy the swim part.

first race

The Lakesman Triathlon Half.

top tip

The word Triathlon sometimes feels a bit scary. If people can break it down into the three disciplines of swim, bike, and run, it’s much more manageable. Even if sometimes it’s just 10 lengths in a pool, going out on your bike or for a small, slow jog, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is you’re training, you’re working on the disciplines.

future plans
I think I would really like to do a few different variations of triathlons, to see which is my preferred distance. I’ve done a full Ironman now, a half Ironman, and a sprint triathlon. I’d like to do the Olympic distance next, to see how I fare.
Lucy REEVES
Fitness content creator
Background

I was always very athletic at school, participating in swimming, athletics and dancing. I wanted to find a way to continue my fitness journey, so I joined a gym, began lifting weights, and now create fitness content online full time, focusing on self-love and body confidence.

Getting started

I enjoy the discipline you need while training for something. And you need quite a lot of it when training for a triathlon.

BIGGEST worry

The bike is my least familiar discipline, so I am a little nervous.

first race

I haven’t done a triathlon… yet.

top tip

It isn’t as scary as it looks. Find groups to train with, as being part of a community is great support.

future plans
I don’t have a triathlon booked yet but I hope to do one in the future.
Scott Thomas
SCOTT THOMAS
Love Island 2016 and Co-founder of Food 4 Thoughts
Background

I am the Co-founder of Food for Thoughts, a personalised meal plan service helping people to achieve sustainable weight loss. I am also the director of public relations agency, The Social PR.

Getting started

Since I decided to go sober in 2020, I am always looking for new ways to push me out of my comfort zone and to grow as a person, and triathlon is a great way to do this.

first race

WTCS Sunderland – Sprint

top tip

Don’t overthink it. You’re swimming, biking and running! Start with a shorter race, like a sprint and take it at the pace you want to.

future plans
I can’t wait until my next one. Taking part in the sprint triathlon was one of the best days of my life. I had a huge sense of pride and achievement.

Start your triathlon journey today

If you’re thinking about getting into triathlon, don’t delay! Everyone was a first-timer at some point, and you’ll be surprised with how much you can achieve once you get going. Start small – super sprint (S – 400m / B – 10km / R – 2.5km) & sprint (S – 750m / B – 20km / R – 5km) distances are perfect for beginners – and there are a huge range of events to enter. If you are too nervous to consider entering a race don’t let that stop you from enjoying training. Triathlon is a perfect balance of different types of exercise, which is great for fitness, whilst minimising the risk of injury.

While some people like to train solo, training with someone else offers a little extra support and motivation. Get a family member or a friends to join you on your sessions. Or check out your local triathlon club, run or bike group where you’ll find friendly faces who will be more than willing to share their knowledge.

You never know, you could end up getting the bug for triathlon…

Start your triathlon journey today

British Triathlon’s Swim Bike Run programme gives you the opportunity to get involved with triathlon, in a way that works for you. Whether you’re new to the sport or looking to take the next step, make your move and discover Swim Bike Run activities happening near you.

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