Novice Triathlon Tips

 1st time triathlon mistakes
Avoid all the common mistakes made by first timers.

Race morning breakfast & nutrition plan-
This must be tried and tested, try nothing NEW!
Pressure release
Don’t add extra pressure by trying to beat your own individual time targets do it to enjoy the experience.
Stay calm
The word “Triathlon” makes people think of gruelling Ironman.

Don’t start the swim to fast keep a long relaxed stroke, going too fast in the first 100m can result in you slowing down in the swim and never really recovering.
Don’t tighten up your goggles more than normal just because you are in a triathlon.
If they did not leak in training don’t adjust those minutes before the start.

Sports drinks
Don’t make your sports drinks double the strength it will not make you super charged instead you will feel sick and will actually under perform.

During endurance events like the triathlon you have plenty of time to think, you should never get bored you have to concentrate on road conditions and when to safely eat and drink.
Arriving to registration early avoid the queues for to get your number.
You will find there is less queuing to get into transition and then to use the toilets.
This will allow you time for the following which will save you time during your first triathlon.
Walk to the swim start and back track to the bike, this is the way you will find your bike after the swim.

Transition Tips

Lay out your transition weeks before & practise.
Be clear in your mind; use my triathlon check list so you don’t forget anything.

Practise and organise your transition.

  • Firstly visualize what you plan to do then practise this.
  • Do what comes naturally not what others are doing.
  • When it comes natural and automatic you can focus on the many other parts of the total picture.
  • Lay out your equipment in reverse order so as you pick up what you need it’s in the correct order.
  • Cycle glasses inside helmet put glass on then cycle helmet.
  • Relaxed breathing staying calm reduces anxiety.

This can be the most nerve racking and has sent even the largest beefy rugby players rushing for the toilet!

Racking your bike in the transition should feel natural don’t talk to anyone until you are happy your kit is layed out in the right order.

  • Check out where the swim to bike transition entrance is?
  • Check out where the bike out of transition is?
  • Check out where you come back into transition?
  • Check out where you exit transition to start the run?
  • Know how many laps and where the finish is.

I often jog the final 200-600m of the run out & back you can always walk some of it, but don’t miss the start.

Rules & Regulations.
Know the rules and always go to the race briefing.

Novice Triathlon Training Tips

  • Wear socks in your first triathlon.
  • You can save a lot of time rehearsing your transitions putting socks shoes and helmet on. Find the best way that suits you.
  • Always do things in the same order. Helmet on socks on cycle/run shoes on.
  • Make your routine become second nature so you can go into automatic pilot.


  • Learn to swim non-stop and breathe both sides.
  • Avoid keep removing your goggles keep them on for the whole duration of your swimming session.


  • Always carry a drink and practise drinking while cycling.
  • Read the road.
  • Keep your head up and look forward at lest 25 meters to anticipate problems like obstructions pot holes and rough surface.
  • Avoid looking ahead 5 feet you will NOT be able to react in time!
  • Look ahead for the many things that can slow you down.
  • Holes in road at the very least slow you down or worse case scenario cause a puncture wheel damage or crash trying to swerve at the last minute.

Cycle shorts are worn without under wear if you put on underpants the seams will rub and create sores.

If you get tired on the bike spin in an easier gear you will not lose much speed and may recover enough for the next hill.
Roughage in diet should be avoided in the final 72 hours to reduce the likelihood of bathroom issues (you have to stop to go to the toilet) during the triathlon.


  • Learn to first run before cycling to keep good form and prevent injury.
  • As your body gets use to swimming cycling and running then complete 2 session son the same day.
  • Swim the same day as cycling and the following week run the same day as cycling.
  • Run shortly after cycling even 90 minutes later still can have a cross training back to back effect.
  • Learn the triathlon shuffle straight after cycling.

If you plan on walking during your triathlon then it's no problem.

New to Triathlon-Run & walk strategy

Once you are able to complete your distance using one of the above ratios. Once you feel comfortable running then walking you are then ready to progress to more running and less walking.

Use the following formula to work out your walk to run plan. First number is the run second number is the walk.
1:3 Ratio i.e. Run one minute Walk Three minutes.
1:2 Ratio i.e. Run one minute Walk Two minutes.
1:1 Ratio i.e.  Run One minute Walk One minute
2:1 Ratio i.e. Run Two minutes Walk One minute
3:1 Ratio i.e. Run Three minutes walk One minute
4:1 Ratio  i.e. Run Four minutes Walk One minute
Usually once you have built up to being able to run 4 minutes walking then repeating you can usually run non-stop up to 20 minutes.
3:1 Ratio Run 66% walk 33% i.e.  Run Three minutes Walk One minute


Any items not listed above please look on frequently asked questions section link below

Mark has competed in over 460 triathlons during the last 31 triathlon seasons but still remembers his heart beating with anticipation in his chest when he was waiting to start his first ever triathlon! 

Don't miss.... more from Ironmate Mark.