Robert Jackson is an Ironman UK finisher and certified personal trainer based in Canary Wharf, London. He specialises in training time-poor office workers who want to get back in shape, and first time triathletes. Find out more at www.minimalfit.co.uk
So, you’d like to take on your first triathlon? You probably have lots of questions already, such as “how should I train for my first triathlon?”, “Can I use a mountain bike?” and “what distance triathlon should I choose?” I’ll be covering all that and much more in this helpful guide on how to train for your first triathlon. Before we get started, let’s clarify a few key points…
What Does A Triathlon Involve?
As the name suggests, there are three (tri) parts to a triathlon, which are completed in this order: swimming, cycling, then running. There are four main race distances you can complete, which are Sprint, Olympic, Half, and Full. Full distance is also commonly referred to as an Ironman Triathlon.
How To Pick A Distance
It’s good to set lofty goals, but only the brave or foolish would consider taking on a half or full distance triathlon for their first outing. Most people start with a sprint distance triathlon. In fact, some even start with a super-sprint, which is a newer addition to the scene to help accommodate first timers. I would personally recommend choosing either a super-sprint or a sprint distance, depending on your previous sporting experience.
The longer the distance, the more hours you need to spend training each week, and for more weeks leading up to your event. Because this post is aimed at first timers, I’ll assume you’re training for a sprint distance triathlon. A short answer is that you’ll want a good 12 weeks to prepare. There will inevitably be days or weeks where you can’t train because life gets in the way, so it’s rare you’ll actually be training for 12 solid weeks.
Let’s break down each discipline and see what kind of sessions we need to do for each one to make good progress. For swimming, you would ideally do 3-4 sessions a week. Little and often is key in order to keep your “feel” for the water, so the sessions need not be long, maybe even just 15 minutes. For cycling, you’ll want at least two sessions a week. 1 long ride, getting used to the distances and being comfortable on the bike, one interval session to improve your fitness, and, if possible, one hill sprint session to develop power. For running, again, at least two sessions a week following the same structure as cycling.
In total, that’s at least seven sessions a week. No one said triathlon training was easy! You also need a rest day, so you have to fit seven sessions into six days. First, let’s take a look at the first part of a triathlon, the swim.
Leg 1: Swimming
Swimming is the first stage of a triathlon. In most races, you will start in waves of different age groups which are separated by men and women. This is the case for most outdoor swim events, but for indoor (pool) swim events it will differ. Let’s start by taking a look at the differences between them so you can choose what’s best for you and your first event.
If you’re confident in the water and can get some good practice in open water before your event, go for an open water one. If you’re not a confident swimmer and are unlikely to join any courses or practice in open water, you’re probably better off starting with a pool swim. It’s entirely up to you, but I have seen many first timers have to get out of the water in open water events because they were not used to it and had not practiced.
Swimming in open water is incredibly intimidating just by itself. There are some key skills you need to master before you can swim in open water safely, effectively and efficiently, which include sighting, drafting (staying behind another swimmer), turning, wearing a wetsuit, and learning to be comfortable in cold and crowded water.
Because swimming is mostly about being comfortable in the water and being relaxed, the key part to all your swim sessions is about technique and being calm. There are a few different sessions you could do. One is a long steady swim, where you should aim to build up to swimming 1km in distance without stopping. Don’t worry about how long it takes, just aim for the distance and remaining relaxed. Another is an interval session. Aim to swim four lengths at a time (assuming a 25m pool) then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat those intervals for up to 30 minutes in total. The last is a technique session. Spending time improving your technique will pay dividends, but since swim technique is complex, make sure to get help from a local triathlon club or swim coach.
Let’s now transition into the second leg of the race, cycling.
Leg 2: Cycling
The cycling leg of nearly every triathlon is proportionally the longest part, which means that strong cyclists do quite well in triathlons unless they are terrible swimmers and runners. As a result, it pays to spend more time practicing cycling than any other area. For your first tri, there will be some key points to consider, so let’s get stuck in with the first one…
If you don’t have a road bike, don’t worry, but make sure that the race you enter allows mountain bikes. This is important, because a lot of events will not allow them. If you’re semi-serious about cycling or triathlon, a road bike is a must-have item. You don’t have to spend thousands, but a half-decent one will make a world of difference. Regardless of your bike selection, you can still perform the same style of training to maximise your performance.
Without going into too much detail, there are three main types of session you want to perform. Longer, steady pace rides (to get used to the distance you need to ride), interval sessions (aimed to do a set amount of time at a speed faster than you can hold for your steady ride, with a set amount of lower speed riding), and hill repeats (designed to improve your leg strength, fitness and ability to tackle hills).
Leg 3: Running
OK, now we’re onto the final leg of the race. The run. After swimming and cycling you are going to be tired, so this is where all your training sessions will help you. Let’s start by looking at brick sessions, which are called as such because they’re when you complete one exercise session after another.
A ‘brick run’ is where you run immediately after cycling, which is what you will do in the race. This is a very important technique to test out in training. If you have not done this before, it will be a shock. If you’ve pushed hard on the bike, your legs will be tired so when you start running they might cramp up. That’s why we practice it in training first.
After one of your bike rides, come home and have everything ready to go out for a run. You can treat it like a practice transition two. Get off your bike and as quickly as you can get out running. You should aim to do at least one of these types of session a week so you know you can run straight off the bike without getting cramp.
There are also other run sessions you can complete. These are the same as the cycling sessions and for the same reasons as already mentioned, longer, steady pace runs, interval sessions, and hill repeats.
Images: Coen van den Broek / Unsplash; Giphy (4)
Is there anything to do on a snow day aside from eating carbs and online shopping? The answer is no. Like all responsible adults, we spent our work-from-home snow day productively searching the internet for cheap swimsuits that are super trendy and look super expensive but really aren’t. Like, anyone can spend last week’s salary on the same neon Triangl bikini Instagram models have been wearing since 2014, but we’ve moved onto better things. The swimsuits coming out for this summer season are all about cool prints and cutouts, so we compiled a list of our favs. Here are 10 cheap swimsuits you need to own by the time the snow melts.
1. ASOS Wolf & Whistle Snake Swimsuit
Does anything say luxury better than snake print? The one-piece is classy already, and the little cutout is a cute perk. Plus, it’s only $45. I’m into it.
2. Out From Under Twisted Bikini
Kind of a boho take on a classic bikini. The tie detail *might* give you more of an illusion of cleavage. This suit comes in a few different styles and colors so you can mix and match, and you’ll look good in all of them.
3. Missguided Blue Scallop Lace Up Swimsuit
Pastels are huge right now, and this baby blue one-piece is amazing. Perfect cut for any size and the color will make anyone look tan. Also, since it kind of looks exactly like every bodysuit girls on Instagram are wearing, you can totally throw shorts over this and wear it to the bar and no one will notice.
4. TopShop Ribbed Colourblock Bikini Set
The high-waisted bikini is tricky to pull off, but this one’s a winner. Plus, the color block and ribbed texture make it look super expensive, even though it’s one of the cheaper bathing suits.
5. Target Sugarcoast by Lolli Women’s Ruffle Triangle Bikini
This one’s super pretty and feminine, but it’s also navy, which literally looks good on everyone. That’s just like, the rules of feminism. The ruffle details will also enhance your curves, so really, everybody wins.
6. Forever21 Marble Print Bikini
If you don’t follow at least five Instagram bloggers who either wear or use marble print in every post, are you okay??
7. Victoria’s Secret PINK Strappy Front High Leg One-Piece
Thank god Victoria’s Secret lied to us about stopping their swimwear line, because they make the best cheap bathing suits. This suit comes in every color and I honestly want more than one. And obviously it’s 2018 so we need some sexy lace-up detail on our one-pieces. Whatever, it looks amazing.
8. Revolve x Kendall + Kylie Mesh Mix Bustier Bikini
Another color block suit, and the army green is SO chic. Did I mention top and bottoms are like $30 each? Cheap swimsuits are my reason for living.
9. MODCLOTH Beach The Alternative One-Piece Swimsuit
Florals try to make their comeback every couple years, but they actually work really well with this sick keyhole neckline thing. It will give you depressing tan lines, but it will be well worth it.
10. Zara Gingham Bikini Set
The cut on this one is so different, and honestly I’m pretty sure Rihanna owns this. She probably paid a lot more for it, though.
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Life is hard when you want to go to the beach looking like a Victoria’s Secret model without having to do anything at all. This would require a change in diet (i.e. no late-night pasta and
hourly weekly shots of vodka), which is something I’d like to say I want to do, but I don’t. It would mean putting on a ridiculous amount of makeup, where it would just become socially unacceptable to go to the beach at that point. No one wants to be that asshole who clearly is trying too hard to look good at a family beach. Everyone and their mother knows you look like a fucking idiot if you come to the beach with a fucking smokey eye. Like, please do so much less. Winged eyeliner says “I’m getting fucked up tonight,” not “I’m trying to get so tan that I start to look racially ambiguous”. A full contour is cool and all, but not worth getting an uneven tan over. You would think this is common sense, but apparently some people need a reminder. Ladies, it’s really times like these where the saying “less is more” is crucial to understand. If you want to pull off a convincing “I woke up like this” look with the most subtle makeup, here’s how:
1. Sheer Foundation
Obviously before you do anything with makeup, put some sunscreen on first. If you’re one of those lucky bitches who doesn’t have to wear foundation, don’t. If you must, though, use a powder-based or sheer foundation that enhances your natural glow. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation eliminates the appearance of dark spots, evens out your skin tone, and leaves a light, satin finish.
2. Beach-Inspired Contour Palette
Instead of having to find individual shades, Becca has done it right yet again. The limited edition Sunchaser Palette came just in time for summer 2017. The hues are inspired by a sun-kissed glow from a day at the beach. Lightly blush your cheeks to give the illusion that you may (or may not, no one has to know the truth) have burned your skin. Use a minimal amount of bronzer, but again, just a little. Remember, that’s the sun’s job. Finish off with a gorg shimmering highlighter to really step up your glow game.
3. Neutral Eyeshadow
We aren’t going to use any purples, blacks, or hot pinks because this isn’t a night at the club. Too Faced Natural Eyes Neutral Eyeshadow Palette has all the colors you need to pull off an effortless natural look. Start with a light nude, applying a slightly darker brown towards the outer edges of your eyes, and finish with a light shimmer towards your inner eye. Using a light shimmer will make your eyes look brighter and bigger. Although the girl next to you will assume your eyes don’t naturally glitter, the hot guy you flirt with won’t notice a thing (because he doesn’t even know what eye shadow is). That’s all that really matters, right?
4. Layers And Layers Of Mascara
Your not-so-natural-but-natural look means nothing if you don’t have the most volumizing waterproof mascara. Even if you’re slightly convinced you don’t have any lashes at all, the smallest ones are nothing the Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof Mascara can’t fix. By like, the third coat (maybe four for good luck), your sultry lashes will be batting the lenses of your sunglasses in no time.
5. Lip Gloss
Instead of a lipstick, go for a gloss to keep your lips looking full, shimmery, and hydrated. Pick a color that lies in-between a nude and pale pink. Soap and Glory’s Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Gloss comes in a bunch of natural-looking colors, so there’s bound to be several you’ll fall in love with. It’s also lip plumping so you’ll achieve that pouty look guys love without having to go full Kylie.
Read: The Sexiest One Pieces That’ll Still Hide Your Winter Weight
Swimwear shopping is the fucking worst. Even Kendall Jenner has tried on a one piece unflattering enough to make her question her entire existence. (Okay, maybe not. IDK, I’m just trying to make us all feel good.) That’s why I hate that “how to get a bikini body” meme that’s like, “step one: put a bikini on your body.” That’s just not how life works. Unless you’re a celebrity that can somehow profit off of indecent exposure when suffering a wardrobe malfunction at the beach, getting the right swimwear for your body is important. Here are the best swimwear styles to
outfit your next thirst trap flatter your body.
To Show Off Your Boobs Without Risking A Nip Slip
Rock a simple triangle bikini. Have you ever noticed that Kim Kardashian is almost always wearing a triangle bikini? It’s because it’s the most flattering style for anyone with huge boobs. Bandeaus and other strapless styles just won’t stay up (you lucky bitch). Triangles are also awesome because the classic ties won’t cut into your back the way a top with a clasp would. It kind of sucks to have to worry about potential back fat situations, but it’s what you get for not having to stuff your bra in middle school.
Becca by Rebecca Virtue Triangle Top
Definitely stay away from: Any style with underwire or padding. It will just create extra bulk that you don’t need. Even most triangle bikinis are loaded up with a bunch of padding that can make your boobs a super weird shape, so removing that is probs in your best interest.
To Get People To Comment The Peach Emoji On Your Instagram
Go for a suit with a high leg cut, duh. This silhouette basically does the same thing for your butt as a thong, but it’s a one piece, so it’s not as shameless… if you care about that kind of thing.
Aerie Super Scoop One Piece
Definitely stay away from: Those bottoms that pretty much give you a permawedgie. You know, the scrunchy ones with ruffles and the elastic down the middle? They’re fugly and not even the most flattering design for your butt.
To Celebrate Your Spot In The Itty Bitty Titty Committee
Pick a really cool high neck top. High neck bikini tops can be so tough to pull off, but betches with small boobs can make them look better than anyone else. The tan lines are going to be totally brutal and I really have no way to sugarcoat that, so you’re just going to have to deal with it, I guess.
Rhythm Havana Floral Print High Neck Bikini Top
Definitely stay away from: Triangle tops. IDK, I barely passed geometry, but I’m going to guess that triangles are not the best shape for small boobs.
To Subtly Brag About Your Hourglass Shape
Wear a one piece. Literally almost every single one piece looks amazing on anyone who’s curvy and thankfully there are currently tons of one pieces available at the moment because designers have realized that everyone’s totally obsessed with them. If you have trouble fitting your boobs into one pieces, try one with lace up details or some kind of adjustable fastening down the middle, which will give you some control.
Aila Blue Spirit One Piece Swimsuit
Definitely stay away from: Suits with lots of cutouts. It’s so rare to find one with cutouts that actually reveal the bits of skin you’d like to show off. Opt for a suit with an interesting back design or a plunging neckline to keep it ~scandalous~.