A triathlon is an endurance race or event that consists of swimming, cycling, and then running. Each event is performed in sequence and athletes must transition, quickly and seamlessly between events. All triathlon races are classified as endurance events although there are varying race distances. The distances range from a sprint: Swim 300-800 yards, cycle 9-18 miles, run 3.1 miles (5k), International/Olympic: Swim 1500-2000 yards, cycle 24-30 miles, run 6.2 miles (10k), Half Ironman: Swim 1.2 miles, cycle 56 miles, and 13.1 miles, Ironman: Swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and 26.2 miles. The athletes compete for the fastest overall times.

What is a Triathlon

Great question! Not only are triathlons a fun way to compete with your own personal bests, but also make it exciting to compete with others in a healthy and fun environment. If you train safely and effectively, triathlon training can provide excellent cross training opportunities that can be sustained throughout life and even reduce your risk for sports related injuries with the proper plan and goals for you. Training with a coach can provide you with accountability and motivation and training with a group can bring level of comraderie and fun that can’t be beat! You’re more likely to follow through with your goals if you have a coach and training partners or team to achieve it with you.   The benefits to training are not limited to improved physical health, endurance and overall fitness. Other benefits include, increased self-confidence, improved sleep, a sense of accomplishment, and improved overall well-being… not to mention being able to refer to yourself as a triathlete!

Why should you do a triathlon?

Training with Cain Coaching focuses on achieving your personal goals and helping you to become a better, swimmer, cyclist, and runner. With safety in mind, we’ll work together to improve your overall health, muscle balance, posture and sense of well-being through training for your goal race(s). Cain Coaching works with all levels of triathletes from beginners to advanced age group races. Triathlon training programs are group training sessions that are designed to help a group work toward a shared or common goal—most often for a race that is coming up! Check out our programs section for more information.

What will training involve?

The idea of competing in three very different sports can seem daunting to someone new to the sport, so you may want to consider starting with a sprint distance triathlon, which is the shortest distance, but still provides a challenge to participants without requiring them to train for months to participate. You can train and complete a sprint triathlon in a few months of training with very basic equipment. Once you get a race or two under your belt, you may want to consider racing in a longer distance race, such as an Olympic or International distance, half or full ironman distance race. These races will require more training time, and often require you to invest in some more equipment. A coach can advise you about which distance would be best for you after beginning some baseline training assessments.

How do I choose a distance?

The amount of time you spend training each week will vary greatly depending on your goals, family, work, travel plans, or other obligations you might have. Training for a triathlon is about balancing your life and training. Training for a sprint distance triathlon, you can expect to spend approximately 8 hours per week on training. If you’re training for an Ironman distance race, you’ll likely spend about 20 hours per week training. I work to find a happy medium for my clients to make training fit into their already busy lives. You have to weigh the cost to benefit ratio when deciding how much time you’re willing to dedicate to training and how to maximize your available time to train!

How much time will I spend training?

I frequently hear people say they can’t afford a bicycle, but I beg to differ. If you’re interested in doing your first triathlon you don’t have to break the bank to try it out and see if you enjoy the sport. You can train and compete for your first race on a modest budget. You will need: a swim suit, swim cap, goggles (or two), a bicycle (which can be borrowed), helmet, water bottle/holder, a triathlon suit, and some sturdy, safe running shoes. If you’re just starting out, keep it simple in terms of equipment. You will frequently see hybrid and mountain bikes at triathlon races. You should try different bikes, talk to experts and determine what will be best for you based on your goals. If you find you’re really getting into the sport, it will be worthwhile to invest in better, high quality equipment and gadgets to help you train better, smarter and more effectively.

What equipment do I need?

This is an important topic because triathlon can certainly become a pricey sport if you want it to. You should look at your budget and discuss with your family the appropriate budget for you to establish for your training and equipment. You will need to get equipment for three very different sports, and that equipment will wear out over time with frequent use! You’ll need to decide what equipment is most important to you and which items you’d like to invest in first. Each race you enter will cost you an entry fee as well. Generally, the shorter the distance the lower the entry costs ($75-$150), and the longer the distance the more the entry costs ($500-$1000). You will also need to consider travel costs to races (gas, flights, hotels, food). The cost for coaching can vary greatly, and depending on your own needs and goals you should establish a healthy budget that will best suit you.

Some of the things you’ll need to get right away are:

Swim suit: $20-$50

Goggles: $10-30

Bicycle: You can choose to borrow one for your first race, and depending on what you buy the costs can vary greatly!  $350-$15,000.

Helmet: $30 – $500

Running shoes: $100-$150

Heart rate monitor: $90-$550

Triathlon suit/bike shorts:  $40-$200

Of course, you could spend more or less on each of these things, and there are plenty of other items you will eventually want to have that will make training and race easier.  This is by no means a complete list, but it does give you a general idea.

What should I budget?

Hiring a coach may not be for everyone but there are a few things to consider when making your decision. Consider your current goals and experience in the sport—where would you like to end up and would it be to your advantage to hire a coach to help you get there? Consider that all Olympic athletes have coaches and some have many coaches that help them achieve their goals, keep the accountable for their training and help them stay motivated. Coaches are also trained to help you stay safe and can help you stay injury free and recover from injuries if they do occur. Coaches should provide you with guidance (training plans), support (emails, phone calls, plan reviews), and direction (help you with goal setting and achievement of those goals). It is important to make sure you like your coach, you get along and can trust them. You should contact several coaches before making the decision on who might be the best fit for you and your training goals.

What to look for: 3 C’s

  • Credentials
  • Costs
  • Coaching Philosophy

Also consider other factors…

Location/Proximity to you

Accessibility—can you contact them easily if needed

Does the coach do custom plans?

How will you receive your workouts and how frequently?

Should you hire a triathlon coach?