Top 3 Triathlon FAQs for Beginners
Updated: Jul 30
Every day our inbox is flooded with questions about how to get started in triathlon and multisports. People want to know what kind of bike do they need to sign up for a race. They want to know do they need to do an ironman to be a triathlete. And often they’re trying to figure out how to swim in open water without drowning.
Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions. And you’ve probably even spent some time on blogs, in Facebook groups, forums and around the web, trying to get answers. Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers, right?
For example, just pop into any triathlon Facebook group and ask this question: Should I upgrade my wheels or helmet to get faster on the bike?
I guarantee that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you to to buy a $5K tri-bike because it's more aero and that is what the pro's ride. Another group will advocate that you use what ever bike you are currently riding or have access to.
And just to make it extra confusing, you might even get a few people telling you to work on your engine & lose some weight to get stronger and faster.
So you’re left to sort through the smoke, wheat and the chaff.
If you’re new to triathlon or that particular community, it’s even harder because you don’t know who to trust. Because the truth is, there are plenty of wannabe pro's or elitists' age-groupers who want you to think they know what they’re talking about – but they’re just as clueless as everyone else. And in some cases, these types of people are offering downright dangerous and inappropriate advice for beginner triathletes.
That’s why we compiled a list of frequently asked questions and will release a new blog post every week covering them until we've exhausted them all.
SwimBikeRun Fun's Team wanted to make sure you get the right advice from ladies who've successfully navigated the world of triathlons, multisport events, and understands the mindset of beginners. There are no stupid questions and we are here to answer them all.
Our Most Common 3 Triathlon Questions, Answered
Q. What is the best way to get comfortable with Open Water Swimming?
Answer. It’s very common for new triathletes to share that they are afraid of open water swimming. Many find it hard to get comfortable in water where they can’t see the bottom, lack a place to rest or concerned about drowning.
We can’t stress enough to take an open water swim clinic for first time triathletes. You will learn valuable things like how to tread water, learn to flip on your back to regroup, learn how to swim alongside others and role play the various race start formats.
The best way to get comfortable with open water swimming is to familiarize yourself with the open water pre-race, swim more frequently in open water and practice race swim starts and it will prepare for an easy swim on race day.
We have a saying here at SwimBikeRun Fun: frequency leads to familiarity which stomps out fear.
Never swim alone. You are served best to join your tri club on a scheduled open water swim training session or grab some buddies and go splash.
Q. Tri Bikes are expensive. Can I use my road bike to complete a triathlon?
Answer. Heck Yeah! It's actually a GREAT idea to start your triathlon journey on your road bike. We have some people in our tribe who utilize their trail bikes and mountain bikes to complete local triathlons here in Texas.
If your equipment is safe to ride on, has two wheels, a few gears, a saddle and a steering wheel - you are good to go. With so many other things to worry about, it's important for new triathletes to keep it simple and utilize things they already possess - especially for their first race.
If you stick with triathlons for a good bit then with time and longer course racing you may eventually naturally come to a point to upgrade your bike to increase your comfort and speed for long course racing.
So the answer to the question is no – you don't need a triathlon specific bike to complete your triathlon events.
Q. I want to do a triathlon but I don’t have a whole lot of time to train for an Ironman, because I have work, family and social responsibilities. What do you suggest I do?
Answer. Ironman branded races and Ironman distance races are NOT the be all and end all of triathlon events.
There are more common and easily achieve triathlon distances offered at your smaller local races.
We suggest that you pick a distance you can realistically register and train for considering your skill level and real life commitments.
Just like the in the running world, where there is a scale of races from 5K’s to Marathons - we have the same thing in the multisport and triathlon sphere.
Here is a list of 5 triathlon distance races in order of shortest to longest:
At last, you finally know the TRUTH about bikes needed in triathlon, how to achieve open water swim success and learned about the different lengths of triathlon races. And that means that you can now complete your triathlon race more confidently, because you’re armed with the knowledge you need to succeed.
See you out on the course!