At a certain point, it can be difficult to continue a pattern of exercising and working out solely for the purpose of fitness. Even knowing that it's "good for you" isn't enough when there isn't a clear goal in mind. Why not think about giving yourself a goal towards which you can strive? One of the best opportunities to challenge yourself in your fitness pursuits is a triathlon. This exciting competition combines running, cycling, and swimming, and puts your whole body to the test. A triathlon will test everything from your cardiovascular fitness to your endurance in this contest of wills.

Like the marathon challenges the runner, the triathlon challenges the amateur athlete like nothing else. So you want to participate in a triathlon ? now what? Now it's time to start your training. However, training for a triathlon is much more than just practising each event on its own. It's important for you to take steps to harmonize all of your workouts together. That way you're assured to feel prepared on the day of the competition. In this article, we'll look at the steps you should take to train up for participation in your first triathlon. Knowing how to tackle each facet is essential for blending a good workout schedule. This kind of race is a big trial to put your body through, but the satisfaction of coming out on the other side is well worth the effort.


First things first: get your training gear together!


Before you start training in earnest, it's important to make sure that you have all the equipment you'll need to train safely and comfortably. Most of the training items you'll need are basic, such as a bicycle, sturdy and well fitting shoes for running, plus a swimsuit and snug goggles. A water bottle is an essential tool to have as well ? dehydration is your worst enemy, and doing what you can to combat that during your training sessions is essential. Other gear can be useful as well. Overall, you should feel comfortable and retain your freedom of motion when geared up for training. All set? Let's take a closer look at each of your training regimens.


Run: Going the distance with your triathlon training


Running is a large component of the triathlon, often comprising at least one-third of the total activity in the race. Whether you've already taken up running, and you hit the pavement regularly, or you're just starting to ramp up, it's important to keep some things in mind. Since you will be running after biking (more on that leg later), it's critical for you to train up your endurance.

Muscular endurance is a key factor in your ability to complete the triathlon. Starting the run already exhausted is only going to lead to a difficult race; instead, a few training tips can help you avoid that scenario. First, heavily aerobic endurance runs should make up the bulk of your training. Don't overdo it, but ensure you're getting your heart rate up and keeping it there several days a week. Developing the ability to last longer throughout the running portion will not only make it less of a slog, but it will keep you in prime condition to power through the race.

Try doing some of your runs after a biking workout. Simulating the experience you will have during the actual triathlon can also aid in preparing your body. This type of training is called a brick workout and can show you some real gains. Find the right balance of running and rest that works for you. Aim to run about four days a week, but make sure you give your body time to recover. After all, you're putting it through a lot of punishment when you train hard. It's important to give your muscles time to heal so they can build up and become stronger. Don't forget to give yourself some resistance training as you run, too. No one likes running uphill, but it does wonders for your ability to endure over long distances. Mix up your run game and you'll be able to tackle this portion of the triathlon.


Ride: The best ways to prepare for biking hard and fast


OK, now let's talk about the cycling portion of the triathlon. Far from being your leisurely Sunday ride through the park, this segment is all about focus and speed ? and, you guessed it, endurance is a big factor here as well. Because you will spend the most time in a triathlon on your bike, now is an excellent opportunity to put in extra sessions on two wheels if you're not feeling confident in your skills.

Important here is just getting out and riding ? as long as you're out and going some distance, you're making headway. Using indoor training bikes is also very beneficial. This equipment offers you a way to train hard and fast in a short period of time. Mixed up with your longer and lower impact outdoor bike rides, you're preparing your body to hold up under the pressure of the race. As previously mentioned, combining your bike day with another exercise directly afterward provides you with an excellent goal to achieve. Slowly increase the distance you bike when you're outdoors. Once you're comfortable doing long rides, try doing them a little faster. Soon you'll develop a much better sense of where and how you need to work on your ride.

Swim: Making a splash in the triathlon pool



Finally ? what many consider being one of the most challenging parts of any triathlon. Running and biking over distance can seem easy compared to the difficulty of endurance swimming. Not only must you master the correct movements in the water, but you must exercise excellent breath control as well to keep going.

How should you train for the swim portion of the race? First, work on developing your ability to swim at length. Start with 15 minutes of continuous swimming and work your way up to half an hour. Cap off your swims with a vigorous push to go faster; this way you're conditioning yourself for what you'll encounter in the triathlon. Mix this up with "sprint" type swims of 50 yards or more as well as taking several series of laps.

Practice developing your swimming form, too. Performing swimming strokes correctly not only makes you faster, but it reduces the amount of stress placed on your muscles. That, in turn, allows you to swim harder and for longer. Consider drills such as swimming with only one arm at a time, or specialised training strokes, to build up your ability. The swim is tough, but with enough practice, you can tackle it, too.


Consider the big picture when training


It's important to organize your weekly training schedule in such a way that you can hit your goals without hurting your body. Remember, downtime and recovery is just as important as getting out and training hard. Take stock of how you feel every few days. Push hard, but not too hard. You'll find the balance is easier to figure out after a couple of weeks of training. Don't forget to eat right during your triathlon training as well. Fuelling your body with the right nutrients at the right times is essential to keeping your muscles working hard.

Try following some simple nutrition rules such as sticking to carbs and increasing your vegetable intake to make it easier. Budgeting calories for "cheat" items is also an excellent way to ensure you stick to your diet. Cut back on protein and balance your diet carefully. Enjoy the potential for weight loss that comes with your training. Triathlons are daunting for the first time participant; there's no denying that. Putting your body through its paces with swimming, biking, and running long-distance is no small feat. With the proper amount of time and dedication to accomplishing your goals, however, anyone can do it. From the experienced exercise nut to the beginner climbing off of the couch, conquering the triathlon just takes a lot of hard work and competitive spirit. Get yourself psyched up for race day, and get out there and do your best! Put your training to good use and make yourself proud ? crossing that finish line will be unforgettable.