Triathlon beginner’s guide How to prepare.

David Lagesse Triathlon preparation

I was getting ready for my first triathlon and had no clue what I was doing at the time. I just knew that I wanted to get fit again. This is my triathlon beginner’s guide How to prepare.

So I decided to put it down in writing. Maybe it will get you to the starting line stress-free and ready to focus on your task ahead.

So you have made the big decision and booked your next event. You have put in the hours of training.

Now you are settling into pre-race and race day preparations. What should you think about and how will you prioritize your planning?

The 4 essential things you should know after reading the triathlon beginner’s guide How to prepare.

Hydration | Nutrition | Equipment | Race Day


What sort of hydration and how much of it you will need is going to depend on several factors?

Here is a short checklist that you can go through to avoid hitting the wall in your first race.

What distance is your triathlon?

The distance of your race and general weather conditions will most likely be the dominating factor in the hydration choices you make. As a general rule, race day is not really the day to try out something new.

Go with what you know and use your past experiences to guide you. It is recommended to test and monitor your drinking habits during your training. This will give you the best idea of what you will need to do on race day.

How to prepare?

Once this is established you can prepare everything the night before. Fill your bottles and add the products you have chosen. You may want to freeze a few bottles depending on how long your race is. Consider at what times you will be needing each drink. Keep in mind that some energy tablets will expand when frozen.

Tag your bottles so you know what you are consuming

Mark your bottles for each step with some kind of identification system to avoid using the wrong bottle at the wrong time. For example.

You might need more energy from your hydration coming out of your swim leg and transiting into your bike. Likewise for your transit into the run.

If you are in doubt and would rather stick to a simple solution then you can stick to plain water. Some people like to add some honey, sugar, and salt as an option.

Test several approaches to your strategy.

Make sure you are taking in what is best for you. Remember there is no best solution, just the solution that is right for you. It may take you several events before you can master your hydration requirements. So keep this in mind while you are training.

Keep things simple

Generally, if you keep things simple you should be fine. I am not a nutritionist so for specific products and when to take them I recommend speaking with a professional.

Doing some extensive personal research will also help you along the way.

How to prepare for nutrition?

Dealing with your pre-race and race day

nutrition can be a worrying process.

It is always the big question, but at the source, it really is a matter of preference.

Eating habits

Your training has most likely changed

the way you eat already.

So by race day, you should have a general idea of what will give you the best output.

Avoid leaving these decisions to the last minute. Especially if you are traveling to a foreign destination for your event.

If this is the case for you then some research is advised.

What distance is your race

and how long will you take to finish?

If you know you are in for a long day then additional sources of energy should be considered.

Easy options can be either in the form of gels or natural foods. Dried fruits and nuts are easy to carry and eat while on the move.

If you feel adventurous try making your own bars and snacks with your favorite ingredients. It is always a good idea to start packing in your nutrients several days before the race.

Think of this as a way to stock up on nutrients. Your body needs to have reserves during the big effort.

The night before, it might be preferable to keep things light and early to avoid an upset stomach.

If in doubt seek professional advice.

We do recommend taking your nutrition seriously and there is a lot of information you can find online, but seeing your doctor or a nutritionist is always the safer alternative.


Equipment for triathlon

Getting into triathlon can be intimidating. When it comes to sorting out your equipment, it is easy to get caught up in the moment.

This has consequences that result in expensive and potentially unnecessary spending. Going down this path will certainly put a break on your journey to the start line; as equipment can become very costly.

Do some research

Take your time with equipment decisions and do some research or ask some more experienced triathletes what they think of your next purchase. This is the time to take a step back and really evaluate what equipment is essential to get you going.

Start with what you have

With this in mind, you could find just about everything you need in your garage or wardrobe for your first triathlon. A pair of goggles, swimsuit, towel, water bottle, hat, bike, helmet and a pair of running shoes;

That’s it! Unless you are out to set the local course record! You can get involved in a triathlon with very basic gear.

If you are starting out with nothing in your garage or wardrobe then here is a way of breaking down your gear list into categories of importance. This will help you decide on what you need to buy straight away and what you can buy progressively as you train.



Put your feet into a decent pair of shoes.

If your existing shoes are in good condition then use them, otherwise, find a new pair that fit you well. When it comes to shoes, SIZE DOES MATTER.

Getting a good shoe fit will make your training much more enjoyable and lower the risks of unnecessary injuries. There are plenty of great quality shoes to choose from at reasonable prices. Being comfortable can be affordable.



Goggles are a must item on your list. Don’t be afraid to try on a few pairs. Make sure they are adjustable to your size and comfortable on your face.

Consider where you will be swimming and at what times of the day you will be training the most. This will help you decide on the lens shade and size of the viewing cap that you prefer. For example. If you are swimming early in the morning with the sun in your eyesight then maybe tinted goggles are the way to go.

If you are swimming in places with low visibility then you might prefer using a clear pair. Goggles are a necessity for swimming. They only become expensive if you keep choosing the wrong pair so keep this in mind the next time you decide to buy a pair.



There is no escaping this one.

Although you can decide to swim without goggles if you choose to, wearing a helmet is part of the required list to participate in a triathlon event.

If you have an old one lying around, try it on for comfort and check that there is no visible damage. If you do find signs of wear and tear then its maybe time to consider replacing it.

The cycling portion of a triathlon is the longest leg of the event and will require long hours of training.

If you are going to buy a new helmet, make sure you adjust everything on the helmet until it fits your head size properly and you are comfortable. Don’t settle for the first helmet you find if you don’t feel comfortable.

BIKE Preparation beginners guide

preparing your bike for triathlon

The bike is By far the most expensive item on this priority list but it doesn’t have to be unaffordable.

There is no rule that regulates what bike you use for a triathlon as long as it is roadworthy and passes the checkpoint inspection. This means you can use just about any bike you please including a borrowed or rented one.

You don’t need to wait until you have a bike to start training for your triathlon. Running and swimming will keep you busy and fit while you shop around for a bike.

If you are a first-time cyclist, as long as your bike is safe, the style and configurations will make no significant difference to your overall performance.

How to choose a bike

Before buying your bike, think about where you will be training the most and what sort of cyclist you want to be. For example, if you like riding off the beaten track and want to join a training group that rides on trails then you will need to get yourself a mountain or cross-country bike.

The case is the same for road enthusiasts. If you are not planning any off-road riding then consider going for a traditional racing bike to start with.

There is no need for a triathlon-specific bike or time trial bike for your first experiences riding and taking part in a triathlon. Time trial bikes and triathlon-specific frames are less versatile bikes and are generally put together with performance, aerodynamic and efficiency as the focus.

Riding alone or in a group

If you are planning to join in some group rides during your training, just stick to a mid-range road bike and you will fit in nicely. You can experiment with some clip-on aero bars if you wish but it is not essential to the success of your ride.

If most of your riding will be alone then you might want to consider getting a time trial bike that gives you a more aerodynamic ride.

Triathlon beginner’s guide for buying a bike.

But it doesn’t need to be. If all you want to do is finish one triathlon and enjoy yourself then buying a bike is really unnecessary. Just borrow one.

That sums up the essential list you need to consider in order to train and participate in a triathlon.

All the other items that you may need such as swimming costumes, cycling gear, hydration solutions, running clothes and technological equipment are optional and at your discretion.

It is advisable to participate in several events before you really start to invest in performance gear. If you are a regular participant you will find that over time you can upgrade certain items as you get better and more involved in the sport.

Being on a budget can work

The how-to prepare for a triathlon beginner’s guide starts in your back pocket. If you are worried about the budget required for a triathlon, just stick to the basics and get through your first race with whatever you can get your hands on. Don’t be intimidated by the high-performance equipment in the transition zone.

The reason why you are doing a triathlon is for your well being and health. It is no point busting your bank account in the process. Keep that for later if you decide to continue the sport.


The day leading up to race day can be a stressful time for athletes so being prepared always helps to settle the nerves.

Prep your gear by laying out a towel and figuring out your transitions, this will ensure that you have all your gear accounted for.

Take some time thinking about the food you will eat and anything that needs packing gets packed straight away.  

Getting a good meal and an early night is essential to your pre-race planning. You want to feel rested and relaxed but not lethargic and slow.


Race morning is always a special time.

Up early, breakfast in time to digest and generally hit the road to your event. Be prepared for traffic issues, and know how long it takes in the worst-case scenario, that way you are relaxed on your expected arrival time.

If everything is prepared and checked the night before, you only have to worry about your nutrition and coffee. Get your bodies moving early especially if you have had a long drive getting to the event!


Preparing for transition in a triathlon

Also known as the 4th leg in a triathlon, getting familiar with transitions will contribute to a smooth triathlon experience.

By transitioning faster, you will feel faster, so think of faster transitions as free speed without any additional training. Layout your race clothing and gear in order of priority to speed up the transition process.

If you are new to triathlon, practicing your T1 + T2 transitions at home will give you that added advantage and increase your confidence on the day.


Your bike preparation for a triathlon

Triathlon requires a substantial amount of stuff. Be sure to check every item.

Remember that every item on your list will contribute to getting you to the finish line. Your gear preparation could make the difference between you finishing or blowing up when you least expect it.

If there is one item you should pay close attention to it is your bike tires and tire pressure. A flat during a race will put a dent in your motivation.

If it does happen to you, be prepared by practicing a change of tire several times at home. Its no point ending your first event because of a flat, just do the fix and get back on the road as quickly as possible.


How to prepare for a triathlon

Remember that pre-race anxiety exists at all levels and you are not the only person concerned about your race performance.

Triathlon is above all a personal challenge so hang onto the important reasons that have contributed to you starting this sport and evaluate the benefits it has brought to you.

Everyone around you has for the same objective “that is to cross the finish line.” As soon as the start gun strikes no one else counts but you. Have fun.

So now you know a little bit more about how to prepare for a triathlon. I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide. All that’s left now is for you to put it into practice and have the experience for yourself.

David Lagesse

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