By Laura Cozik
Athletic Director, CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge
CEO, Team Lipstick Triathlon
1. Sign up for a sprint distance triathlon! I put this first as you will then have no option but to complete steps 2, 3 and 4, listed below.
* A good Web site for locating races is www.trifind.com.
* Give yourself at least 2 weeks to purchase equipment and find a local team, then give yourself about 12 weeks to train.
* Read about the race course and know what to expect (hills, flat, etc.).
* Check the water temperature for your swim. Low-to-mid 60s can be cold but doable, low-to-mid 70s is very comfortable.
* Find out how many participants there will be. A more intimate race, roughly around 300-500 racers, is better for your first experience. Save the 5,000-participant race for later.
2. Go shopping! This is the fun part. If cost is an issue, lots of stuff can be bought online, often at a discount. Remember that whatever you buy will last for years to come.
* Road bike – No mountain or hybrid. And no tri bike til you’re ready for your second bike.
* Cycling Shoes – You must clip in! In order to pedal efficiently, you must connect to your pedal crank. No buts, just do it.
* Clipless pedals and cleats.
* Spare tube, CO2 cartridge/dispensor, tire lever – You will have to change a tire someday. Don’t get stranded 10 miles from home with a flat and no way to fix it.
* Floor pump – You should pump your tires before every ride.
* Sneakers and speed laces – You’ll never want to tie your shoes again!
* Swim cap and goggles.
* Wetsuit – So NOT fun trying these on as they are much more comfortable in the water.
* Extras that can wait, unless you decide to go for broke: Sunglasses, carry bag to attach to your bike, allen keys for bike adjustments, front and rear bike lights (if riding at dusk or dawn), water bottles for your bike, heartrate monitor, cadence/mph monitor for your bike (when your ready for the “gadget phase”), tri shorts (padded bottoms are nice), water-wicking clothes for training, hat or visor for sunny runs.
* Good Web sites for discounts: www.craigslist.org, www.nashbar.com, www.performancebike.com.
3. Find a local tri club that accomodates first timers. Most tri clubs will have beginner programs as they’re always trying to grow this sport. And the annual fees can be very affordable, anywhere from $50-$300 per year. Some good questions to ask:
* How many coached sessions do they offer weekly?
* Are there other beginners for you to train with?
* Do they have a pool facility?
* Do they offer open water swim clinics?
* Will they offer lectures such as “how to change a tire,” “nutrition,” “transition practice,” etc.?
* Do they receive discounts at any local swim/bike/run shops?
4. Show up and have fun! That’s all you have to do. Just show up to your training sessions and let the games begin!! See you at the finish line!
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