This time last year I was training for the Virgin Active Triathlon in London and this year I’m training for the run section of an Ironman in Austria. Argh! I may only be doing the run but I was originally doing the entire thing so I’m still training as though it’s a full Ironman. This can only make the actual run easier, right?
Read more: I’m doing an Ironman in Austria (to find out what I’m on about).
I’m taking what I learned from my previous triathlon and doing my best to prepare.
Here are my top tips to prepare for a triathlon and if you’re the imaginative type, you can probably apply them to life.
Get the right kit
KTM Strada 600 – The most amazing bike in the world. Fact.
For my first triathlon I wore a bikini beneath my wetsuit, not realizing you have to take your wetsuit off in front of the crowds. Anyone who has tried to take off a wet wetsuit will know that this is one of the least dignified things you can possibly do, particularly as it peels your wet bikini off at the same time. You then need to put your cycling and running gear on top of the wet bikini which felt very similar to getting a balloon inside a sock.
I would definitely recommend getting a proper triathlon kit that you wear beneath your wetsuit. I wouldn’t go for a onsie (even Cara Delevingne couldn’t pull one off). I prefer the separate top and bottoms. The bottoms are slightly padded to make the cycle more comfortable but not so padded that you feel like you’re wearing a nappy during the run.
Good running shoes are amazingly important and definitely worth investing in. I’m a big fan of lightweight trainers with a thin sole so the Nike Performance Free Flyknit are my favourites. I actually have these in a few different colours because they’re great for travel too.
Training for a triathlon
Training for a triathlon can be daunting, there’s just so much you need to do! I found it impossible to swim, cycle and run in each training session, who has time for that?
I found it much easier to do two activities in a training session. You really need to practice your transitions (that’s going from one activity to the other) because it can take a while for your body to adjust. Go for a swim and then cycle home or go for a cycling and running combo.
I actually didn’t do any road cycling in preparation for my triathlon (yes, I’m terrified of London traffic), I just went to spin class at the gym and followed it up with a half hour run on the treadmill. So many people laughed at me and thought spin class wasn’t adequate training but the cycle was my best section. Spin class is tough!
I think it’s all about doing what you’re comfortable with. I know I’d never go out in the rain and run around the park but I would go to the gym where it’s warm and dry and cosy and they have fluffy towels and a sauna waiting for me. Yes, it’s better to train outdoors but indoors is better than nothing at all.
One of the hardest things when training for anything is motivating yourself. Here are some tips:
- Train immediately before or after work – Don’t give yourself time to go home and remember how comfy the sofa is.
- Have specific training days – This helps when organising nights out so your friends know exactly when you’re free and don’t tempt you with Wednesday Wine if that’s your main training day.
- Choose a training buddy wisely – I don’t have a training buddy because if my buddy bails then I bail too. Let your friends know when and where you’ll be training and say they’re welcome to join you but only be buddies if you can motivate each other.
- Add a countdown to your calendar – A great big ‘5 weeks to go!’ will scare you if nothing else.
- Take part in a smaller event half way through your training– I have a 10k in two weeks time as it’s something much easier to train for and will hopefully give me a motivation boost.
Combine training with travel
If you’re a frequent traveller, it can be tough to stay healthy and keep up with your training routine while you’re away.
While I was in Ljubljana I took a running tour around the city. This was a great way to get a run in but also see more of the city and learn about my surroundings.
Read More: How to stay fit and healthy while you travel
Books to read
Still not feeling motivated? I read these two books when I first signed up to the Ironman and they gave me a much-needed kick up the bum.
Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field
This book is perfect for first time runners who need someone to shout at them to get their arse off the sofa and go for a run. There are some great tips in here for first-time runners but I wouldn’t recommend it for those with low self-esteem.
Most people blame their lack of exercise (myself included) on a million and one problems when, in reality, they’re just being lazy. This book cuts through the crap and tells you to just get out there and begin.
I absolutely love the mantra, ‘Run now and then be pretty on rest days’. We’re all running to look and feel better and this book is a perfect pick-me-up to get you running. It’s much shorter than Run Fat Bitch Run but has the same message and motivation to just flipping well run!
This book is written by Bangs from Bangs and Bun. If you don’t follow her already on Twitter (@bangsandabun) I strongly recommend you do for some serious running inspiration. She also runs Spikes and Heels, great for all round fitness inspiration and trends.
And finally, when all else fails, create a Pinterest board filled with motivational quotes, green smoothies and images of gorgeous people looking ridiculously fit and healthy.
Check out my board: Gymspiration
Warning: Do not be tempted to sit on the sofa pinning healthy images rather than exercising. Pinning does not count as exercise, no matter how motivational it can be.
If you’ve ever done a triathlon, an Ironman or a marathon or half ironman, please share any of your own tips in the comments below.