Triathlon 101


Try your first triathlon or step your game up with this step-by-step guide from Trek

Which bike?

Versatile ride, perfect for the first timer. Fitness machine and capable commuter—FX does it all. It’s the most versatile bike on the planet—great bike for first-timers who want to ease into the sport.

Sleek, affordable women’s road bike. Lexa is designed to fit right from the start and sports functional style. Its confidence-inspiring geometry will make your transition to triathlon smooth
and comfortable.

Race-ready carbon road perfection. Race-level performance and all-day comfort make Madone the choice of champions. The bike split is where you can make up the most time—so upgrade to carbon and set a new PR!

The fastest way to the finish. Revolutionary aerodynamics make Speed Concept the world’s fastest tri bike. Unmatched adjustability makes it the best fitting. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, climb on.

Getting ready

Why cross-train?
The same training all the time can become boring and unmotivating. Try to find different cross-training activities to jump-start your training.

Keep a journal
A journal helps keep you motivated and keeps track of your workouts. You can record duration, distance, intensity, diet, weight, weather.


Bike Checklist
You or a qualified Trek dealer should check over your bike to make sure it is road safe and ready to go.

  1. Tires Check your tires to ensure they are in good condition. The day of your event, make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure. (100-110psi for road, 60-70 psi for hybrid, 30-40 psi for mountain)
  2. Bars Tighten your handle bars (and aerobars. if you have them).
  3. Brakes & cables Check your brakes and cables. These must be in good working condition with minimal wear. Cables should slide easily and not cause friction.
  4. Chain Clean and lubricate your chain.
  5. Gears Your gears should all be working and shifting smoothly.
  6. Pedals Check to make sure your pedals are secure.
  7. Fit Re-check your fit. Sometimes the seat or seatpost can get knocked or twisted.
  8. Clothing / wetsuit The less changing you do, the faster you are. But if you are uncomfortable, this could cost you minutes during the race. The fastest option is to wear the same outfit the entire race; a swimsuit, tri suit, or triathlon shorts with a sports bra. You can put on a cycling jersey or running top at the start of the bike portion. Some events require a wetsuit. Make sure you check ahead.
  9. Race belt This is a belt onto which you pin your running number. It is very convenient and quick to put on before the run. You can pin your number on the front of your running top.
  10. Socks Some triathletes don’t wear socks—but if you have never ridden your bike or run without socks, take the time to put them on.
  11. Shoes Wearing cycling shoes is generally faster and more efficient than riding with running shoes, but if you have not ridden with cycling shoes before, then just stick with your running shoes. The advantage of a cycling shoe is the stiff sole and the ability to clip into the pedal for a more efficient pedal stroke.

Training and Race Prep

Training Tips

  • Make riding enjoyable and give yourself regular challenges. Take at least 1-2 rest days a week (or very easy short rides) and schedule a block of rest every 2-3 months.
  • When riding your bike, enjoy your surroundings. Cycling is a wonderful sport that enables you to sight-see as you train.
  • Look up, relax your shoulders, think about how you are pedaling (round circles, keep the pressure on the whole way round), and soak up your freedom.
  • Gradually increase the amount of time you are riding and add some intervals. Training intervals are periods where you go harder/faster followed by periods of recovery (active pedaling).
  • Interval training helps you get stronger and faster. It also helps you lose weight while keeping your lean muscle mass.

– Mary Daubert, Pro Racer, World Cup Winner, Oympian


Image courtesy Trek Bikes

Pre-Event Tips

Check the event website
Check the event website for up-to-date information, address, and parking instructions. Double check the time of your event. If you are doing a triathlon verify the racking procedures.

Get the weather report
Check the weather forecast for the day of the event. Be prepared with your clothing selection (jersey, gloves, outerwear, hat). Make sure you have plenty of clean waterbottles, one on your bike, one before your event, and one for after.

Nutrition Tips

The night before
Eat a well balanced, easily digestible meal, about 2-3 hours before going to sleep. Drink lots of water a few days before your event, especially if it is going to be hot and humid!

Snacks and Energy Foods Depending on the length of your event, you may want to bring food to replenish your body. Have you been experimenting with different foods? If so, have plenty of your favorites. Don’t change your riding foods the day of the race.

Image courtesy Trek Bikes

Racking Your Bike

The night before
If you are required to rack your bike the day before the triathlon, all you need to do is leave your bike in the designated area. On race morning you will have time to assemble your gear from your race bag under your bike, creating your “zone.”

Racking on race day
If bike racking is day of, then bring both your bike and your race bag with you to the racking area. How do I rack my bike? Most triathlons have a large area in the grass or parking lot to put your bike and gear. The racks are organized by race number, so it is important to know where to rack your bike. You may be given a race number for your bike, so be sure to put it on before you rack it.

Rack your bike by either hanging the tip of the seat or the handlebars on the rack. Take note of where your bike will be when you come out of the water and where the bike start banner is located. Tie a colorful bandana around the rack (avoid balloons as they can interfere with transition changes). Next, note where your “zone” is when you finish the bike portion. Take notice of the location of the run start banner and the finish line.

Warm Up
Try to run/jog the first and last sections of the run. If the race organizer allows, get into the water before the start.

Assembling Your Zone
If you racked the day before, find your bike within the transition area. When you are assembling your zone, you will want to put down your gear in the opposite order that you’ll use it.

  1. Lay down your towel under your bike.
  2. Put your running shoes neatly side by side, right on the right and left on the left, with your visor or hat on top, furthest from you on the towel.
  3. Next, put your cycling shoes on the ground (if you are wearing socks, put one on the right shoe and one on the left shoe). Put your helmet, open side up, straps undone, with your eyewear inside. If you are wearing a cycling top/jersey, put this on top of your helmet. You may want to set out a gel pack and waterbottle as well.
  4. Take your goggles and swim cap with you to the swim. You are now ready to go to the start.

Congrats on making the commitment!

Last modified: April 16, 2012

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