Over the years, I have received a number of common questions from new and newer triathletes. I am not a coach and nor am I an expert, but I can share my personal experiences as a newer triathlete. So, I decided to compile some of those questions here! What additional questions do you have?
What do you wear in a triathlon? Do I need a super expensive tri kit? Will I look strange if I don’t wear a kit like everyone else? First, there is no requirement to wear a tri kit! At my first race in 2015, I wore a one-piece bathing suit for the swim, tossed on bike shorts for the bike, then took my running clothes into the port-o-potties to change for the run. Although I don’t recommend a full change in the middle of the race while in a port-o-pottie, I didn’t feel out of place at all. In 2016, I started using bikini bottoms and a Zoot tri top (bought on sale through REI) for the swim, then tossed run shorts on over the bikini bottoms for the bike and run. Eventually, I bought Zoot tri shorts so I could keep the same bottoms throughout the entire race. I did not go out before my first race and shop for tri kits and am really glad I waited to test out options that would work for me.
Do I need a fancy tri bike? Not at all! I have seen so many different types of bikes during triathlons. I’ve seen hybrid, mountain, bikes with baskets, fat tire, road, and tri bikes. During my first couple of seasons, I used a hybrid comfort Diamondback bike with a kickstand. It was actually quite perfect for me starting out. I knew bikes could get expensive so I wanted to make sure this was a sport I wanted to continue in. Seriously, ride what you are comfortable on. No one will be paying attention to what you are riding but will watch how you are riding, especially if that will impact someone else.
Do I have to be a fast swimmer to do a triathlon? In the swimming portion, you need to make forward progress either fast, slow, or something in between. I’ve seen people do doggy paddle, side stroke, freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, or a combination of strokes to make that forward progress. There are also lifeguards on paddleboats that you can hang on to if you need to catch your breathe or rinse out your goggles. If you feel uneasy, ask for a special swim cap. These are typically a different color and helps the lifeguards know to keep an extra eye on you. Some races have swim ‘angels’ who will swim with you and encourage you but can’t hold or help you in your forward progress.
Do I have to be fast overall to do a triathlon? Nope! Some athletes compete to win but many do not. I do triathlons to keep myself healthy, and work to improve at least one of the three disciplines at each race. Making it to the podium has never been my goal (but when it happens, wow!). My goals have been to have fun and stay healthy. Everyone holds different goals when they enter this world. Choose goals that works for you!
Do you work out everyday for hours on end? LOL – not even close. I try for quality over quantity. During the week, I work out 3-4 days up to an hour each day. Weekends usually include a longer workout, especially on the bike, so maybe 2-3 hours at a time. Workouts include swimming, biking, and running but has also included kickboxing, ballroom dancing, hiking, walking, and strength.
Do you use a coach? For the exception of a couple of months of needing assistance transitioning back to racing after an injury that required 6 months of PT, I have never worked with a coach. I have read a lot and created my own workout plan. Part of it is that I just don’t understand the language of some of those plans (I started in this world in my 40s) so I still have a lot to learn. I have joined running and bike groups which have helped.