Making the Decision to enter your First Triathlon!

Introducing Rhys Chong and making the decision to enter your first triathlon

My name is Rhys, I’m a physiotherapist  based in London and completed my first  Ironman in Switzerland last year. I’ve been asked by NewToTri to write weekly articles to help all of you who might want to do your first triathlon or are regularly enjoying this incredibly exciting sport!

I trained for one year to complete my Ironman and when I started training I wanted to learn the sport fast as there was no time to waste.  I managed to find several coaches to help me. These coaches included Ironman experts covering the areas of training, swimming, nutrition, mental preparation, bike mechanics, massage, and pilates.  I was able to take care of my injuries as a physiotherapist.

These coaches directed me in all aspects of Ironman training and saved me hours of work looking for information on places to train, equipment to buy and events to enter. I hope to share the knowledge I have gained to give you all a great start to your triathlon training and racing.

First Triathlon Advice

If you’ve never done a triathlon and are thinking about starting you might have loads of questions you want answered. It helps to read magazines, books and websites like Newtotri. Some of you will want to start with Sprint distance triathlons or Olympic distance triathlons. There is nothing that beats experience so my first tip is enter and learn by doing your first triathlon.

The first question I had after entering the Ironman was how do I train? Training for triathlons will vary from individual to individual. The more triathlons you do the more you learn how your body adapts to training and what works best for you. To get started you can get training programs from magazines, books and websites. They are perfect for learning the basic training regimes that work for the majority of triathletes.  Once you learn how you reacted to training in your first race you can tweek the programs to suit you.  Remember, you can listen and learn from other triathletes but always listen to your own body and do what is right for you.

When I was making a decision to start in triathlon I had many excuses and these were based on fears. Fears like, Could I do it?  Was I able to fit it into my life? Who would help me? and where do I get the information I need? I asked lots of questions and did my research and wanted everything to be perfect before I started training.  In reality there is no such thing as perfect preparation or perfect timing.  Like I said earlier, enter a race and then find out what to do. That action alone will focus your mind and the answers you are looking for will present themselves to you. Take small steps in training and before you know it you will be standing on the start line of your first triathlon. Making mistakes will happen but correcting these mistakes is when you learn the most. 

Training with a triathlon club can introduce you to other triathletes and resources. I personally found training myself was better. Training in a group intruded on my own training outcomes. In a club the speed, distance and times of training were predetermined. I wanted to train when I had the time and at the speeds and distances suiting my training plan.  In a triathlon race you will be racing alone so it is better to train alone to get used to it.

Training alone has other advantages. I became more aware of my body and my equipment during the training session. I noticed my heart rate rise rapidly when I exercised hard and I was aware of how fast I recovered. I learnt to make adjustments whilst I was training for better results. Being more in-tune with your body can help prevent “hitting the wall” at the end of your race. Hitting the wall is when you body runs out of energy, is dangerous for your body and spells a premature end to your race.

In this article I’ve shared with you three tips to getting started in triathlon.

  1. Enter your first race and then learn what to do from magazines, books and websites.
  2. Your training plan will be specific to you and you will learn from your mistakes.
  3. Training alone gets you in-tune with your body and replicates race day. Get used to it.

Feel free to contact Physical Edge with your questions and read my blog on one year of Ironman training from my website.  Until next time, remember to stay focused and enjoy your new sport. You’re now an athlete in currently the fastest growing Olympic sport in the world!

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