How to Choose Your Triathlon

Posted on: November 23, 2018

How to Choose Your Triathlon

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your triathlon, especially if it’s your first competition. You’ve got the gear and the ambition, but there’s more to consider. How far can you run, swim, and cycle? What terrain are you used to? How much can you spend, and how much do your surroundings and location matter?

In this blog, we help you identify the key questions you need to ask yourself when looking for your next race. Find the best fit for you, and be inspired to push yourself to new limits in the New Year. Just don’t underestimate the importance of a strong training plan once you’ve picked your event.

Can you go the distance?
The most important thing to look for is the appropriate distance for your goal.
For beginners, a sprint tri (400m pool or 750m open water swim/20km bike/5km run) may seem the obvious option, but if you run a lot and never swim, or cycle a lot but have never run more than a mile, a super sprint (250m pool or 400m open water/10km/2.5km) might be a better starting place.

For those looking to push themselves, a classic tri (1.5km/40km/10km) or middle distance tri (1.9km/90km/21km) are the next step up. Once you’ve got a few events under your belt, the only way is up. The extra challenge here is arming yourself with nutrition for a longer race time.

The ultimate challenge is a full distance triathlon (3.8km/180km/42km). The cut off time for a full tri is around 17 hours, so be prepared to exercise for up to that long, and factor in as much as 9 months training. If you’re fighting fit and feel you have the time to commit, a full distance tri could be your next step for you.

Pool or open water?
Similarly, if you can swim 400m in in a pool, but have never tried an open water swim, pushing yourself to 750m for your first tri could be a challenge. In addition to finding or creating a well researched training plan that is right for you, consider how you feel about facing the elements. Open water swimming isn’t for everyone – it might be cold, murky, and we can’t promise there won’t be fish! But it’s a brilliant challenge and for some can be the highlight of a tri as it adds something a little different to your usual regime.

Location, location, location
It’s not just about how close you live to the event, as many people are willing to travel to experience new routes, but something to bear in mind is the change in terrain you’ll be competing on. Pools and open water are the obvious variation, but consider the type of road you are used to in comparison to where you will be competing, especially if you’re going abroad, and consider training for hill climbs and country lanes, rather than just smooth tarmac.

Venue matters
Of course the venue is important too, and there are plenty of interesting and inspiring tri locations in the UK if you’ve exhausted your local options. At Immortal Sport, we host the annual Stourhead Triathlon weekend, which offers the unique opportunity to swim in the famous Stourhead Lake. There’s the Blenheim Palace triathlon on the grounds of a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to the Churchill family, and the Craggy Island Tri in Scotland with a swim between two islands follows by and off road bike and run.

Is it BTF permitted?
It’s all fun and games until something goes wrong, and if your event isn’t British Triathlon Federation (BTF) permitted, meaning it adheres to official tri rules and regulations, it isn’t worth doing. As well as researching your location, distances, and training, look into who is organising your tri, and ensure it’s a reputable company that insures and protects its competitors.

How do you value a tri?
Triathlons aren’t known to be cheap. On top of the gear, the training time, and the travel, fees to join the race can be as high as £450. For newbies, it can seem prohibitive, but bear in mind that you’re not just paying for the experience, you’re paying for top quality organisation, and the fun and enjoyment that comes with a brilliant race. A lot goes on behind the scenes, and it’s a lot more work that just setting up some road closures and recruiting marshals. Weigh up the pros and cons, and make sure you can afford the commitment when you enter.

Think you’re ready to choose your tri? At Immortal Sport, we host a range of events from 10k races to triple crown triathlons. Find out more about what we have to offer, and how to choose the best race for you on our website.

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