Here you will find some answers to some of the questions that we get asked by new members.
There are never answers to all the questions. But there is victory, on your terms, at the finish. And that’s what it’s all about.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us.
What are the typical triathlon distances?
• Long / Full Distance (Ironman / Challenge): 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
• Half / Middle Distance (Ironman 70.3 / Challenge Half): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
• Standard / Olympic Distance (ITU): 1500 metre (0.93 mile) swim, 40k (24.8 mile) bike, 10k (6.2 mile) run
• Sprint Distance (ITU - Half Olympic Distance): 800 metre (0.46 mile) swim, 20k (12.4 mile) bike, 5k (3.1 mile) run
• Super Sprint Distance (Quarter Olympic Distance): 400 metre (0.24 mile) swim, 10k (6.2 mile) bike, 2.5k (1.55 mile) run
Do you really think I can finish a triathlon?
Yes, we do. If you’re reading this, the chances are pretty good that you could finish a triathlon. You’re interested in fitness and endurance. As long as you pick a triathlon that’s suited realistically to your abilities, you can finish.
What you really need, ultimately, is to want it bad enough. If you do, you will. [Note: see your doctor before attempting anything related to endurance training and racing]
What triathlon distance is right for me?
Always consider the distance you can realistically train for and always ensure you have your families support as this will be crucial in the months leading up to race day.
The other factor to consider hinges on your comfort in the water. You can probably ride or run (or walk) the distance in longer events. But don’t put yourself in the water for a longer distance than you can handle.
If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider a super sprint distance, with roughly a 400 meter swim (equal to about 16 lengths in a pool) in shallow water, with sprint distance doubling that to 800 meters, and an Olympic Distance race covering 1500m. Many mistakenly choose Olympic Distance, above their abilities, for their first race. The swim ends up being too long, but the bike and run are fine.
Do I need to have a strong background in one of the events?
Not necessarily. While you will encounter athletes who swam in a Club or who can run or cycle to a high standard, many new triathletes are approaching at least one of the disciplines for the first time.
Our sessions are designed to help you to improve and to race confident in the knowledge that you can do it !
'Train hard - Race easy' is one of our favourite phrases ....
I'm worried this is male dominated environment !
Not so - we have a strong female contingent within the Club - currently over 40% of our membership are ladies and we all train on a equal footing which is something we are rightly proud of.
I’ve heard that a triathlon swim is rough, and people even try to swim over you; true?
The talk about the swim typically surpasses the reality, which is: there are no lane markers, everyone’s trying to go in the same direction, some with more success than others. Yes there is occasional contact, but it’s unintentional. Do not take it personally, just keep swimming. Some races are trying to stagger their starts too, which helps with congestion.
Do I need to train for hours and hours every week?
Short answer: no. You've got limited time to train so be realistic.
Consistency and quality is the key so train hard in the time you've got and make it count. You can do very well while training far less than you think you have to.
Can a training log help?
Absolutely. But it doesn't need to be very complex to be of tremendous value. There are plenty of free, online training assitants - Garmin provide one of the best !
What's the most important concept in creating and executing on a training plan?
In our view, periodization. Train in 4-week blocks, increasing time and mileage week by week. At the end of four weeks, back off; start the process again, at a slightly higher level than you did in the previous period.
Do I need to buy a lot of expensive gear?
No. It’s possible to compete in a triathlon with basic equipment but you may need to invest a little to get those initial, basic items - see below;
Do I need to buy a wetsuit?
A triathlon wetsuit can cost from £150 to over £800, so it’s a pricey investment. The reasons to get one: help you stay warm in longer swim distances, and the buoyancy will make most amateur swimmers swim better. It's also a must for most open water swimming in our climate here in the UK !
But a wetsuit is not mandatory for some triathlons, and may not be needed in the short distance races like Super Sprints, or races that are pool based.
You can rent a wetsuit online, and that’s a good bet if you only plan to do one or two triathlons, but if you plan to swim open water regulary, it will pay for itself in no time. Also, if you can see yourself staying engaged in triathlon longer, the cost of a wetsuit makes sense.
Do I need to buy an expensive triathlon bike?
Anything with two wheels in your shed or garage can get you started at no extra cost. We've even seen people complete their first triathlon on their mountain bikes in the past.
The Club has many very keen cyclists with years of experience, so if you do decide to buy that bike - whether it's a first time ride or that fully specced TT bike, you won't be short of finding advice to help you.
Will a new bike make me faster?
There’s a saying ‘if you think a new bike will make you faster, then it will.’ In part that is true, but it's also psychological. You are the one powering your wheels and as you get fitter, you will get faster and be able to ride further - then the question is 'is it me, or is it the bike ?'. If you are not in shape, a £10,000 dream bike won’t make a difference.
What if something goes wrong in the triathlon I’ve spent so much time preparing for?
For some, understandably, a triathlon is a culmination of much dedication, preparation, training, and family support. It’s a project, and it's a huge investment in time and money, and naturally you want it all to be worth it.
But sometimes things go wrong, in the same way that it might rain on a long-planned outdoor event; the swim might not go as well as you expect. You might get a flat tire on the bike. You might experience unexpected cramping on the run.
Don't worry - the variables are what makes this sport so exciting. We have the experience and knowledge to help you cope should this happen to you, and what to do if it does !
What's it like?
Triathlon is about the expected as well as the unexpected. The successful triathlete – you – earns that internal and external respect by taking whatever the day, the course and the competition hands you.