How to train for your first triathlon

From understanding how its basic rules work to planning your training, understand what triathlon is and know what your body needs to gain strength and enter the competition.

Assuming that you are keen on rehearsing marathon, you ought to realize that it is a mix of three disciplines: swimming, cycling and running. During the competition, these modalities are performed in this sequence – and without breaks.

It is important to try and enjoy practicing all these activities to not only fit them into your exercise routine, but also enjoy and perform well in the triathlon.

If what you are doing is training for your first triathlon, set aside a little time each day – around 45 minutes or an hour – this way, you will be able to practice all the modalities and find out if it is really worth the investment, not just with the equipment, but for training.

Some very common questions may also arise, such as:

  • how triathlon works;
  • each of its modalities;
  • how to start training;
  • which equipment to buy, among others.

Therefore, it is ideal to put together a triathlon training plan.

Triathlon rules

Each category has its own rules, but they are all very simple and clear. The three main stages (start, finish and transition areas – place to wear the appropriate attire) take place in the same location.

Furthermore, in the rules of triathlon there are variations in distance, and this article focuses on how triathlon works in the modality recommended for beginners, called Sprint.

Below is a general introduction to the types of triathlon:


This test comprises of a typical distance of 25 kilometers altogether. The distance is variable, for the most part being 750m swimming, 20km cycling and 5km running.


In this methodology, you really want to overcome a sum of 51.5 kilometers, of which: 1.5km swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running.

Half Ironman

There are 113 kilometers altogether, typically partitioned into: 1.9km of swimming, 90km of cycling and 21km of running.


This test is not for the weak. There are 226 kilometers, divided into: 3.8km swimming, 180km cycling and 42.2km running.

For each step, there are some general rules

First of all, it is important that the athlete carefully reads the rules of the race to be contested, as there may be details that will make a difference in the final result and it is necessary to be aware.


With all the competitors positioned, each one next to the others, the start begins. The route is marked using buoys to guide the athletes.

A foul will occur with a penalty of 30 seconds of delay in the transition area if one competitor interferes with the performance of the other.


With the start of the swim, each competitor now has their own time to reach the transition point.

The only rule of cycling, in triathlon competition, is not to put your feet on the ground during the journey.

Please note: the cycling stage in triathlon is considered an individual competitive modality, which means that the athlete cannot benefit from other competitors.

In other words, the practice known as “taking a slip” (which means pedaling close to another cyclist, with the aim of breaking the wind barrier to increase performance) is considered, by many regulations, prohibited.

It is important to know about the guidelines of every contest, as they might forbid the training and, for this situation, lead to punishments or even preclusion of the competitor.


Proceeding with the course as indicated by your course time, the main rule applied to the race is in regards to dress, and it isn’t allowed to run shoeless, without a shirt or with goggles and swimming covers.

Triathlon training plan

If what you’re looking for is how to do your first triathlon , start with planning.

This planning must include at least 12 weeks of training before the competition. However, if you are not in shape and do not have a physical exercise routine, you may need up to 16 weeks of training.

You will need to include swimming, cycling and running in your schedule. The ideal is to train twice a week, each of the modalities – in addition to once a week completing a route with the three modalities, in sequence.

Remember to train in open water (you can’t just do it in the pool), to create the habit and adapt – after all, in competition, swimming takes place in natural waters.

Depending on resistance and your habit, increase the distance by 10% weekly. Remember to rest your body and leave one or two days a week for muscle recovery.

Give preference to rest before training the full distance.

Resistance training

You need to include resistance training in your planning, which can be done after the exercises corresponding to the main modalities.

Focus mainly on strengthening the muscles that will be used most in the competition, in addition to creating mobility and stability in your movements.

  • For swimming, strengthen your back, shoulders and arms, with improved trunk mobility;
  • For cycling, increase the strength of your hips and glutes, with stability in your torso and chest;
  • For running, strengthen your legs, hip mobility and trunk and shoulder stability.


For a triathlon athlete, it is important to breathe bilaterally. With this, remember to keep your head down, turning to each side, depending on the stroke, breathing after every two or three attacks.

Also train your vision, so that there is no risk of going off course: every three attacks, look up and see if you are heading in the right direction.

To survive this part of the competition, it is necessary to train swimming at least twice a week. Start by swimming 800 meters until you reach 1.5km, initially in the pool and then in open water, as most competitions take place in oceans or lakes.

Before starting training in open water, make sure you have prepared enough in safe water and recognize the training environment and, preferably, have a partner or group and swim during the day.


The strength needed here will depend on your equipment and physical condition. Practice in different locations and with different terrains to get your body used to all types of elevations.

Remember to practice changing gears to know which ones are most comfortable on uphills and downhills. Try to train in places similar to the triathlon route.

During your training, practice starting, stopping, turning, slowing down, accelerating and drinking water while cycling, as you will do all of this during the competition.

Depending on your physical fitness, practice a journey of between 25km and 30km three times a week.


Run two to three times a week, increasing the mileage as your endurance improves. To advance in distance, make sure you can complete 5km in 30 minutes, this is the trigger to improve your training.

When running a triathlon, frequency is important. Leaning your body slightly, relaxing your hands and letting your arms move forward and backward can help with the impulses of your steps.

Triathlon equipment

Swimming: Goggles, swim trunks/swimsuit.

Cycling: Bicycle, helmet, cycling sunglasses, cycling clothing, two bottles.

Running: Sneakers, cap/visor, watch with stopwatch.

Options: Cap, palms, board, float, fins, rubber suit, cycling shoes, pedals for shoes, running socks, number belt and heart rate monitor.

Respect your time

A race like a marathon requires a ton of preparing and actual planning, so attempt to begin as quickly as time permits to get your body used to and impervious to the exercises expected in the races. It is also necessary to follow a healthy diet rich in carbohydrates, which can help with the process.

Remember to work your mind, so you can concentrate and understand that, in the beginning, everything is new and, therefore, it may seem more difficult.

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