Training for a Beginner Triathlon

Whether it’s a good or a bad quality, I don’t know, but I am always on the lookout for a new challenge (sometimes before I’ve actually finished the last one- googling triathlons days before completing the Paris marathon!) I love something to train for, strive towards and above all, push myself to achieve.

I’m going to TRI… (get used to a number of these puns over the next few weeks!) my hand at my first triathlon this summer. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list for a while, and when the opportunity to take part in the Blenheim Palace triathlon came up, I decided I didn’t want to put it off any longer. I’m starting small with a Super-Sprint Triathlon, which includes a 400m swim, 13.2km bike and 3.1km run.

After reading a few triathlon blogs, including Meghann and Sophie’s Ironman efforts, I’ve become really excited about giving this whole swimming, biking and running thing a go. The only slight problem is, I am a rubbish swimmer. I mean, I can swim (mad props to the other Sophie that actually learnt to swim for her triathlon!!) but I definitely do not have the correct stroke technique, nor do I have an efficient breathing pattern.

And swimming is really, really hard.

I went to my gym to swim on Wednesday, and realised it’s the first time in well over a year that I’ve actually used the pool there. After discovering it is literally steps from the changing room, I jumped in and swam a few warm up mummy breast stroke laps (head out of the water style), before putting on my goggles, getting my head in the water and attempting some front crawl. Two laps in and I was exhausted, I pretended to adjust my goggles to have a little breather and continued onwards. Completing 10 front crawl laps (the pool is about 20m) felt like a real work out.

This is my sort of ‘swimming’

I shared my fears on twitter and received some really encouraging responses; that it gets easier, it’s all about the breathing and that maybe I should have some lessons.

When it comes to triathlon training I’m not really sure how to approach it. A lot of the plans I’ve looked at have a lot of running, which is my obviously my strongest of the three disciplines. I know I need to focus on swimming and cycling, so am planning on swimming twice a week, cycling to work a few times a week as well as taking spinning classes. I’ll save running for fun runs with friends, upcoming races and run clubs (before I start training for the Berlin marathon in June!!)

Laura’s awesome Islington Lululemon run club this week/school photo

A few weeks ago I had a Lifescore test done. According to thirtysevendegrees (the gym that exclusively offers Lifescore tests), they are ‘a total body mapping too scientifically developed…to reveal which areas of your body you should focus on for maximum results in minimum time’. The results highlighted what I already knew, and gave me something to think about in terms of future training. One of the main suggestions was that I take up swimming more regularly! Viv, who administered the test, was raving about how swimming could increase upper body strength and help improve my posture.

The web above shows where my results lie on the optimum scale- as you can see it shows I need a lot of work on my flexibility and core strength. My core is actually something that I could feel really let me down during the Paris marathon, when I could feel my stomach muscles hurting along the way.

I was really interested to learn that despite my less than stellar spider chart, my age profile actually came out a year younger than my actual age! Additionally I enjoyed finding out that my basal metabolic rate is 1473- lucky that’s not when I’m marathon training!

I’m really excited about taking on this new challenge, getting out on my bike more with Tom and my Mum (who has really got into cycling!), as well as improving my overall fitness so that I am more than ready when Berlin training begins!

I’d love to hear any triathlon training advice, and links to triathlon/ironman blogs that you love for inspiration! Have you tried a triathlon? 

I’ve been offered a complementary place in the Blenheim triathlon in exchange for blogging about my training and race day. 



  1. April 18, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    Hey ! *waves* I’m training for my first Tri too, similar distances as well only mines in Leeds! I’m weakest in the running section having been a high school competitive swimmer and a family biker, running is a chore for me and I’m still trying to get to a healthy weight so its all a challenge! Will be following your training with interest 🙂

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:51 am

      Awesome, good luck with your training!

  2. April 18, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    I would be happy to share my first spring tri training plan if you would like it!

    • April 20, 2014 / 3:40 pm

      Yes please?!!

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:44 am

      That would be awesome! Yes please do!!

  3. April 18, 2014 / 7:07 pm

    I’ve done a few triathlons now and they’re great. My first olympic triathlon will be in September this year and I really need to get the miles in on the bike as this is my weakest disipline. Is your swim pool based? You’ll be suprised how quickly you’ll improve, so a couple of sessions a week will be plenty. If you can, do some brick sessions – cycling followed immediately by running – as it’s the transition from cycling to running that’s the hardest.

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:52 am

      Sadly (and scarily) it’s an open water swim! Thanks for your advice!

  4. April 18, 2014 / 9:30 pm

    Good luck with your tri, look forward to following your training. A few ladies from my Tri Club are doing Blenheim- it seems like a good one for a beginner. I’ve been having swimming lessons since last summer in preparation for a triathlon and have improved so much since then!

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:53 am

      Amazing, I’ll have to look out for them on the day!

  5. April 20, 2014 / 3:35 pm

    Wow, I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! I’m also training for my first tri (Eton Dorney shock absorber women’s only) after only ever entering long distance run events. I’m also finding swimming tricky (totally with you on the goggle “adjustment”!). More than a little daunted by the prospect of open water swimming!! Great blog, do you ever do run meet ups?!

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:53 am

      I’m thinking of entering that Tri too- although musn’t get too ahead of myself!

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:53 am

      Feel free to send me an email about run meet ups!

  6. April 20, 2014 / 3:40 pm

    Wow, I’m so glad I found your blog! Am also training for my first tri (shock absorber women’s only at Eton Dorney) after only ever entering long distance run events.
    TOTALLY with you on the goggle adjustment! Really daunted with the prospect of open water swimming, but really looking forward to the event. What a great blog x

    • May 6, 2014 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment!

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