17 May 2016


You’re a triathlete – your friend wants to be. This is how you can help their transition to multisporter be a seamless one. Triathlon is open to all, as you’ll know if you’re already a signed-up member. But remember what it was like when you first dipped your toes in triathlon waters? Cold, scary and confusing? But, for your mate, it needn’t be so.
The first thing we’d suggest is helping them choose a race. A supersprint (400m swim/10km bike/2.5km run) or sprint (750m swim/20km bike/5km run) are good choices. A pool-based swim is a good option, too, though don’t rule out an open-water triathlon – there’s nothing like jumping into the deep end for added motivation. Also, keep it local so you don’t have the added anxiety or expense of travel costs. You should also encourage them to…

Pedro Gomes’ technique and set-up is something to aspire to!

Join a club
One of the most positive entries into triathlon is by joining a triathlon club. From the outside, it might seem intimidating but triathletes are a friendly, welcoming lot and they’ll soon allay any nerves you might have. Clubs have structured weekly swim, bike and run sessions for all abilities.
Many newcomers enter the world of multisport on a hybrid or mountain bike, which is fine – just make sure it’s rolling and braking smoothly, so a swift check-over from your local bike shop’s worth the outlay. There’s plenty of opportunity to look at upgrades later.

Open-water swimming
Chances are, you’ll be a much more experienced open-water swimmer than your fiend. So it’s up to you to instil confidence in them during what is, for many, the most anxious part of triathlon. You should source a beginner-friendly stretch of water to train in (a lake rather than the sea, for instance) and ideally one that’s set up for outdoor swimming, so feature turning buoys that’d replicate what you’d experience in a race.
You should then swim beside them, offering tips that put them at ease with the dark body of water (like they can swim breaststroke if they find it easier and/or not to kick too hard so they reserve energy for the bike). As they grow in confidence and ability, get them to follow your feet. You should vary your pace, again to more accurately replicate what they’ll experience in a race.

Downhill riding
Unless your budding triathlete pal is an ex-cyclist, chances are that they’ll be intimidated by downhill riding. This is where you come in. Offer your friend advice like keeping their weight even on their bike and staying relaxed, while keeping looking forward and aware of any obstacles. Then take them down the hill by following your trail. They should ride a few meters back.
Begin on a relatively benign, shallow and short hill, then find routes that gradually induce faster and longer descents. Within a month, their confidence would have grown so much that you’ll be chasing them down hills! Check out our tri bike handling tips.

Transition practice
Even experienced triathletes forget that triathlon is multi-discipline – not single sport – hence some sessions should train two of the disciplines together. You should take the lead here, realistically focusing more on the bike to run than swim to bike as a) it’s more practical and b) this is the changeover many triathletes have trouble with because of the noted jelly-leg feeling. You should set up your garage or garden with a mock transition zone, so placing your run shoes by an area where you’ll rack your bike (this could simply be a wall to lean it against).
Both of you should go out for a 30-minute ride, back to your place and then time each other changing from bike to run (in other words, how long it takes you to slip out of your bike shoes and into your run). Clearly you’ll be first but, over time, this will change. Read Pedro’s Tips on Transitions.