Tri Hard

You’ve thought about it. Some of your friends do it. However, you’re not quite sure how to do it. Don’t be intimidated—participating in your first triathlon is a wonderful endeavor that you can accomplish.

The most important thing is keeping your training as simple as possible, since triathlon training is easy to overdo. Generally speaking, you should perform two or three workouts for each discipline every week. Some of the basic gear that you will need to train for any triathlon includes the following:

• Swimsuit or wetsuit
• Goggles
• Swim cap
• Bicycle
• Water bottle or other hydration system
• Helmet
• Sunglasses
• Running shoes
• Hat

The Swim
To train for the swim portion of a sprint-distance triathlon, alternate your workouts between slower sets of 300-500 meters with quicker sets of 50-100 yards. Rest as much as you need to in order to complete the next set. As the weeks progress, you won’t have to rest as long, and your speed should be picking up. You should be able to swim the distance of the race and then some. Remember to take one or two days off between workouts. If your race is an open-water swim, practice outside once per week.

The Bike
If you're going to do a road triathlon, have a road bike. If you only have a mountain bike, however, it will suffice. Off-road triathlons (think XTERRA WildHorse at Hyalite) necessitate a mountain bike.

Again, keeping it simple will work wonders for you. Alternate rides that include longer, sustained hills with longer distance rides (think about riding out Springhill or perhaps South 3rd). Of course for an off-road triathlon, singletrack riding is a necessity. Trails are abundant in the Bozeman area, even in town (think Peets Hill or Story Mill).

The Run
Remember, for a sprint-distance triathlon, you only have to run 3.1 miles—but after you’re exhausted from swimming and biking! That's why you should run after most of your bike rides, even if it's only for five minutes.

Running-only sessions are important as well. Alternate your faster sessions (think half-mile intervals) with longer durations of 40-60 minutes at a slower pace.

The Finish Line
As a triathlete, it’s important to establish consistency in your training from week to week. Build up your minutes appropriately (no more than a 10% increase from week to week). A week to ten days before your race, drop your total time in half for each workout but keep your intensity up. Take a day off when you need to. Stretch often.

Hiring a coach is beneficial to make your training plan more specific! Plan your work and work your plan. Utilizing local club workouts will assist in building your fitness. You can find schedules of those workouts online.

Matthew Parks is a USA Triathlon Level-1 Certified Coach and owner of Moving Forward, a triathlon coaching and sports massage enterprise. He can be reached at [email protected] or 580-7987.

Triathlon Resources

Local Clubs

Upcoming Races (This information was published summer 2011 – check our events calendar for updated events.) 
Spring Meadow. Sunday, July 10, Helena. Sprint and Olympic distances.
XTERRA WildHorse. Sunday, July 24, Bozeman. Sprint distance.
Bozeman Triton. Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31. Sprint and half-Ironman distance.