Ah, the magic of the first multi. The thrill of jelly legs meeting a sense of achievement can be somewhat addictive. But getting to the start line is the hardest part – here are some tips to help you get there.
1. Keep it simple
If you have a training plan, or better still a coach, great! But if you don’t have a rigid plan in place, simply try to stick to an absolute minimum of one of each discipline per week. Avoid the temptation to increase your load too quickly, add on time and intensity incrementally to avoid injury. Adding a bit of yoga to your weekly routine does wonders for averting-aches and pains.
2. Discover the benefits of going it alone
Running, cycling and swimming with friends is great for motivation, but getting out there on your own comes with unique rewards: authentic space and recharge time, confidence-building and the ability to squeeze in sessions in your available time slots, great for time efficiency in busy lives. Cycling in a group is safer in the darker months though, and as the evenings draw in, don’t forget good lights and hi-viz.
3. Get the kit without blowing the bank
Tri gear is expensive, but all you absolutely need is a decent pair of padded shorts or tights, a running or cycling top and a good pair of trainers. Cycling shoes have great benefits but are expensive and non essential for your first race. DHB via Wiggle does great quality clothing at fair prices, and their jerseys stand the test of time. A must-have item is the humble tri belt — fannying around with safety pins in transition is no fun! Pop your number on a tri belt and voila, one minute transition as you spin it around from back to front between the cycle and run. If you feel inclined, elastic laces also save time.
4. Join the 6am club
If you wing it to the start line, you’re missing all the fun! Hours spent training means time dedicated to thinking about what you’re preparing for and why, along with a wonderful sense of achievement as you build upon fitness and feel the tangible improvements. There’s nothing quite like the training ‘flow’, that intangible feeling of utter awesomeness that comes along when you least expect it during a session. If time isn’t on your side, make the most of mornings and set your alarm an hour early for a quick swim or toasty turbo before work. Prepare yourself for the ‘6am club’ glow that comes thereafter (and hunger!).
5. Consistency is key
This is your golden rule. Whatever your plan is, define one priority session of each discipline per week (swim, cycle and run) that you will not miss, and commit to it. Winter is the time for pesky sniffs and snivels, and a consistent level of training can actually help ward off nasty bugs. But it’s best not to train with a virus, skipped sessions due to ill health are best forgotten, not ‘caught up’ on. Simply put, commitment to consistency will win the day (and maybe even the race).
These five tips are the tip (ahem) of the iceberg; triathletes love to talk for hours on the complexities of kit and the technical side of the sport, but over complicating it, although fun, is entirely unnecessary. All you need to know is get out there and spin your legs, run outside and feel the wind and Vitamin D on your face, and set the swim alarm with your favourite motivational song to aid the early morning throwing back of covers. It can be that simple. Enjoy!