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How to Go From Keen Cyclist to First-Time Triathlete

How to Go From Keen Cyclist to First-Time Triathlete

Does the idea of signing up for your first triathlon feel incredibly daunting?

If so, great!

Triathlons are designed to be challenging, so committing to your first one should get your heart pumping, even before you begin training.

And if you’re a keen cyclist, we’ve got some more encouraging news. Cycling is the biggest portion of a triathlon, which gives you a fantastic starting point. Plus, if you’ve invested in a bike, then you already own the most expensive piece of kit you’ll need to take part.

All you’ve got to do now is find a race and sign up.

But which race, and how do you prepare for success?

Super Sprint Triathlon

Sprint Triathlon

Not all triathlons are created equal

Triathlons are endurance multi-sport races that consist of three elements: swimming, cycling, and running (‘triathlon’ derives from the Greek words for three and competition: treis and athlos).

Though you’ll always swim, bike, and run during a triathlon, events range in distance and difficulty – from relatively quick super-sprints to Olympic and beyond – so you can choose one that suits your current level of ability, or challenge yourself to something a little more demanding.

Our exclusive calendar of Marauder triathlon events are held across the ancient ‘Viking Territory’ of Yorkshire and the North East. Designed in collaboration with specialist advisors from Triathlon England and Triathlon Yorkshire, each event features a difficulty level, a race profile, and a full description of the terrain, so you can feel confident about choosing just the right one.

OK, so you’ve chosen your ideal triathlon. What now?

Don’t think that once you’ve hit the ‘Confirm’ button on your event registration, that’s it until race day!

Designing a full training schedule; one that fits around your work and lifestyle, is of course a given. Once you sign up for a Marauder triathlon, you’ll automatically join the Marauder Community, which means you can develop your plan and share favourite training tips with a friendly group of mixed-ability athletes.

As a keen cyclist already, you may have to work harder to ensure your training covers each triathlon discipline, with combination workouts and general strength conditioning thrown in. You should look to develop not just your endurance, but also your strength and speed.

(Don’t be disheartened if you feel much weaker in one discipline than the others. This is the same for everybody, and it’s just one of many reasons why triathlon events offer such a healthy challenge!)

Create your own mantra for success

In a Marauder interview with Rory Aitken and Monty Halls, co-founders of the Royal Marines Iron Challenge triathlon event, we discussed the importance of positive inner dialogue. Rory stated that his internal mantra of “pain is temporary, pride is forever” would always get him through, no matter how challenging the race, or how bad he felt in the moment.

So, along with choosing a powerful training soundtrack, it could be well worth developing some positive inner dialogue, for those moments when it feels like the odds are stacked against you.

Fuel and hydrate for multi-sports endurance

During training, you may find that your usual cyclist’s nutrition plan no longer works. That’s because, especially when compared with running, cycling is a relatively smooth sport that doesn’t involve much inner pounding and jostling.

You don’t want to be surprised with an unsettled stomach on race day, which is why it’s key to experiment and practice – again and again if necessary – with different fuelling and hydration strategies beforehand.

Since triathlons are gruelling endurance events, you’ll also need to train your system to receive continuous fuel and fluids (trust us, you won’t get through the race without them!) Don’t wait until you’re feeling hungry or thirsty, just set your phone or sports watch to remind you to keep refuelling, ideally every 20-30 minutes.

Don’t forget to pace yourself

Remember what we said about not getting disheartened if you feel weaker in one discipline than the others?

Well, we meant it!

Thinking of a triathlon as a whole, balanced event, rather than a ‘bits-and-pieces’ race made up of bits you love (cycling) and pieces you have to grit your teeth to get through (running and/or swimming) will help to ensure you don’t overdo things.

Like going all out on the bike, only to find you’re completely drained and/or injured by the time you get to the run.

Recruit the right support on triathlon day

Race support comes in many forms.

First – and perhaps most importantly – is asking your friends and loved ones to come and cheer you on! We actively encourage this at all of our Marauder events, as there’s nothing quite like rousing bursts of warm-hearted support to give you a lift and boost flagging motivation.

(If you’re feeling nervous about participating, you’re welcome to pop along to any of our events and cheer the athletes from the sidelines. We’re willing to bet that by the end, you’ll be aching to get out there yourself!)

Second is making sure that help is available for your kit if needed. Along with a DIY pit station, two Planet X bike technicians will be on hand at every Marauder triathlon event, ready to provide essential last-minute support that means you won’t have to forfeit a race you’ve spent months training for.

And as part of the Marauder Community, you’ll not only be supported by experienced athletes on event day, but based on the information you provide when you register, you’ll also be grouped with others of a similar ability to you.

You can do this!

Now you just have to make a solemn promise to yourself: that when you sign up for your first triathlon, you will see it through to the end.

Why? Seasoned triathletes know they’re not going to break records every time they race. They define a successful event simply by putting in the effort to train and prepare, then showing up on the day to achieve what they said they would.

By keeping that same promise to yourself, you’ll not only come away from your first event with a glowing sense of triumph, but you can wear your Marauder Finishers’ T-shirt with pride…

…because you – yes, YOU – have completed a triathlon!