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Training for your first triathlon

If becoming a triathlete is on your life bucket list or even one of your New Year's resolutions for the year, you are not alone. USA Triathlon agrees, stating that triathlons are growing rapidly in number and size every year.

While watching the televised coverage of the Ironman races, a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, is awe-inspiring and encouraging, that is not the place to start. A goal, to be sure, but the Ironman should not be your first foray into the world of triathlon.

Rather, many people's first entry into triathlon is a sprint triathlon, typically a half-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5k run. Training for such a race requires a minimum of four hours of training per week for at least three months. Experts say that about half of the training should be focused on cycling, as this is the largest portion of the triathlon. The next focus should be swimming, as it involves mastering not only the skill of the swim stroke but also, and especially, the skill and experience of swimming in open water. For running, the recommendation is to run three times a week for at least 20 minutes.

To improve strength and overall fitness, strength training, particularly push-ups, squats and rows, should be added in to your training regimen.

Regardless, all workouts should be consistent in frequency and length.

Many people find that working with a coach or joining a triathlon group or club helps with motivation, gaining tips and insider knowledge and for connecting with like-minded athletes.

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