The last couple of weeks have been an interesting dive into the unknown for me. I understand most sports, what equipment to get, how/where to get it, and how to go about joining a team, but triathlons are different.
There are club (TriClubs) that can be found in your area and you can become a member of. They go on rides together, train together, can teach you the ropes if you’re a beginner, and help you along your journey. Most clubs are welcoming and understanding, because hey they’ve been the newbie too, and there is a lot to learn about riding and running and swimming.
Once you’ve found a triclub – which I’m still working on – you should probably ask around for the best places to get equipment or what kind of equipment you will need. Before you ask, yes, there is a ton of equipment involved in triathlons, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go full boar to start and clear out your life savings.
There is a bike shop in my hometown, I went up there and the guys are great! I told them that I was starting to train for triathlons and they took me right over to the road bikes and tri bikes. They explained the differences, new versus used and what to look for in your fit for your body. They even let me take it for a spin around the block a few times to learn the gears and get a feel for how a road bike rides.
What’s really cool is that they have a lay-away system where I can throw a few bucks down, claim the bike, and pay it off within a few months. Pretty reasonable considering I did not have the $450 chilling in my pocket. They didn’t push the newest bike either, they showed me the used bike, which was actually a bump up from the new bike. The only reason the used bike was traded in was because the lady ordered another tribike.
There are also places that will rent you bikes for races, checking into that so that you do not have to fly your bike everywhere is an option. Ask your local bike shop about their options for rent or buy.
If a bike or riding outside is not possible, there are always spinning or cycling classes that you can take. I know that it can be intimidating at first, but everyone starts somewhere and before you know it you’ll be riding like a pro. Prices vary depending on type of class and where the classes are held, but your community rec center or health club should have them, or a gym may have them as well. Best to check around and talk to someone about pricing and classes for beginners and triathlon athletes.
Running doesn’t involve much equipment, a decent pair of shoes, sunscreen, some good tunes, heart rate monitor, and water/sports drink. Heart rate monitors are easy to find considering most of our phones and watches (especially Fitbit, Apple, or Galaxy) are set up to monitor steps and heart rates.
You don’t have to go out and buy the fanciest one, anyone will do, just so long as you can monitor your heart rate to make sure you’re not going above your target heart rate (THR) and overdoing it, or below it and not getting anything out of the run. Staying within your THR is best for working out and keeps you from hurting yourself in the long run.
Shoes, well, shoes. There are millions of types of shoes, most people I know run in Nike, Asics, Adidas, or Reebok. I alternate between my Nike, Puma, and Asics. Alternating helps keep your arches from falling and is recommended by doctors for various health reasons. Just like you shouldn’t wear the same shoes every single day at work, you shouldn’t do that for running either. Again, no need to blow your savings on a few pairs of shoes, just make sure they are comfortable, they won’t give you blisters, and they’re the right size and fit for your foot.
Swimming involves goggles, suit, cap, sunscreen (if outside), and possibly a membership to a rec center or health club. Swimming doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to swing, but when you realize that you need to swim laps and not just kick it at the beach or pool side, it becomes a little different.
Finding a pool that is a minimum of 25 meters is necessary for proper training, if a lake or ocean are not easily accessible. (Swimming for most triathlons is done in open water, not a pool, so some form of training in a lake or ocean is recommended) I doubt you have a pool that size at your house, if you do, kudos to you and can I come over and hang out?
Most of your recreation centers or health clubs within your community will have these types of pools and usually a general membership will allow you access to them. The rec center in my hometown, like most, has specific times that they allow lap swims and you can even reserve a lane to practice by yourself in. Most lanes are shared and there are rules about how to share a lane, and if you ask, I’m sure they will be more than willing to explain them to you.
All of this can seem overwhelming and probably scare you away from training, but stop, take a breath, and relax. It’s only scary at first, once you dive in and get into a groove (there are a ton of people who are willing to help) you’ll be fine in no time.
So far, I have my bike waiting for me to pick it up, a membership to go get, and my running shoes need some febreeze.