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8 Triathlon Training Tips Every Beginner Must Know

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Go the Right Distance

    Choosing the appropriate distance for you comes down to how much time you are able to dedicate to training and how skilled you are in all three sports."If you're a collegiate swimmer, that turns a triathlon into two-sport training for you," says Pennino. The same goes if you are already an experienced cyclist or runner. Determine how much training you'll need to put in based on your skills and fitness levels and choose your distance accordingly. That being said, don't underestimate putting three sports together in one event. Pennino recommends a sprint or Olympic distance for a first-timer to get an idea of the sport. "It's not about the distance; it's about what you'll learn by getting out there and racing," he says.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Do Your Homework

    There's a lot to think about as a first-time triathlete, but preparation is key. Pennino can't stress enough the importance of reading the race packet. The race directors include a ton of useful information for every single race course. "Read everything you can and absorb the information," he says. "Take the unknown element out of it." The more you know, the more prepared you'll feel, and the less anxiety you'll have.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Test the Waters

    If you're not an experienced swimmer, you'll want to consider what kind of open water you'll feel comfortable with. Ocean swims can be more difficult depending on conditions (think: temperature, waves, swells, and current). "If you have an ocean swim, always expect the unexpected," says Pennino. "Lake swims are typically more controlled and calm so they are a great place to consider for your first race." If you're really hesitant to start in open water, some sprint triathlons hold the swim leg in a pool.

    If you've already signed up for an ocean swim, don't fear. The more you practice in open water, the less worried you'll be. "Force yourself to get out there during training and especially the morning of the race," he says. " You'll feel ready and the panic won't set in."

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Hang Back

    Worried about getting trampled in the swim? There's an easy solution to that. Simply line up correctly in your wave. "If you're not confident, stay to the back and let the wave go ahead of you," says Pennino. Some races even reserve the last wave for first-timers and not-so-confident swimmers. No one will judge. Promise.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Make a Smooth Transition

    Aside from physically and mentally practicing your routine in transition, make a checklist of the gear you think you'll need to bring, and then haul it all to transition. "When it's your first race, bring anything and everything you need to feel comfortable," says Pennino. "As you keep competing, you'll figure out what the essentials are." Eventually, you can start shaving time off your transition as you become more competitive. Pennino also recommends walking from the swim-in to the bike-out and the bike-in to the run-out the morning of the race so you know where everything is.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Clip In for the Win

    Beginners often find clipping in intimidating (when you use special pedals and bike shoes that attach to offer retention), but doing so will not only make you faster, it'll keep you safe—believe it or not. "When you're just on the flat pedals in tennis shoes, your feet can slip off and move all over the place," says Pennino. If your foot's in a cage, it's actually a lot more difficult to free yourself when you're about to fall.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Master the Brick

    Running after biking is definitely different from running by itself, even if you're a three-hour marathoner. Your legs are going to feel heavy (that's why they call it "a brick"). "You're going from a seated position to an upright position, from a non-weight-bearing to a weight-bearing position very quickly," says Pennino. He recommends incorporating brick workouts [when you practice getting off the bike and immediately start running] into your training to help your legs get used to the feeling. After a few minutes, your body will adjust.

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    Triathlon Training Tips: Run for Fun

    Once you've made it to the final leg—the run—most of the hard work is behind you (yay!), and you can start enjoying it. Even if running isn't your thang, you can relish in the fact that the finish line is in sight. "Don't start off too fast, stay consistent, and remember to hydrate," says Pennino. "Then ultimately, go out there and have a blast!"