Your First Triathlon

By Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner

You’ve been a runner for some time and you are ready for a new challenge but you are not sure where to begin.  As a long time runner, 27 years, I have been in your shoes but have made the switch.  I love the variety and challenge triathlon training provides.  Here are some tips on how to get started.

Since triathlon include three sports:  swimming, cycling & running.  It’s best to get experience in all of them.  Most tend to shy away from swimming, but I encourage you to buy a good pair of goggles and jump in with both feet.  The more time you spend in the water the sooner you will get more comfortable in it.  But there is one thing you should know about swimming, to be fast you need to learn proper technique.  Even the fittest runner will often be gasping within 10 yards of the pools edge.  To learn proper technique I highly encourage you talk to someone that has been trained in distance swimming (not sprint) and get some coaching.  This way you can learn proper technique from the start and master this new skill quickly.  If you live in Northern Utah, I offer swim coaching.  Click to learn more. 

Most triathlons in Utah take place on the roads so having a road bike is ideal.  However if all you have is a mountain bike and your not quite sure if you want to invest in a new bike yet then that will work.  When you first start aim to get out and ride at least two to three times a week.  Limit your time riding to allow your “sit bones” to adapt.  This is more often the limiter than fitness.  Don’t underestimate the value of good padded cycling shorts.  (note:  there are triathlon specific shorts with less padding to be used for racing).  Spin classes or upright bikes at the gym can also be helpful to get started but as you get more comfortable start paying attention to cadence and proper pedal stroke.  When you do decide to invest in a bike, make sure it is fit for you properly.  This is important.  Click to read about my experience with bike fitting

Most likely you are familiar with running, however triathlon training is not just as simple as adding two more activities. You will find as you swim and cycle more you will need to adapt your running schedule to allow for proper rest.  You will also want to start incorporate “brick” workouts; this is where you run immediately after a you cycle.  This will help you adapt from one discipline to another.  It is often a shock to beginners how “dead” their legs feel while trying to transition from one sport to the next thus the term “brick.”

The final discipline that you need to consider is transitions (T1 & T2).  This is often over looked and not well executed by beginners.  The transition is the time spent transitioning from swim to bike and bike to run.  Transition times are counted in your final time so fine-tuning these can really help your over all performance.

On average I would say an athlete can be ready in 10-12 weeks to complete a sprint distance triathlon event, however if you have little to no experience with triathlons; I would suggest going and watching one first. There is a lot you can learn just by watching or even volunteering at an event. Another great way to learn is to get involved in triathlons groups, clinics or classes like the TBR team triathlon training.  This is a great way to make friends and have fun with fitness.  Triathlons are a blast.

Happy Training,

Coach Lora

Lora Erickson aka “Blonde Runner” is a USATF certified running coach and nationally ranked triathlete.  If you’d like to learn more about her coaching and triathlon team training visit

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest


Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete and certified running and triathlon coach recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa in 2018. Lora was born and raised in Colorado and was to run for the University and Utah & Utah State University where she obtained a degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Coach Lora has a true passion for health promotion and loves to share her experiences. Learn more: About Coach Lora Erickson