How to train for a triathlon

As the temperatures begin to cool, it's time to get into shape


The sun is cooling and the athletes are warming up. Why not have a go at a triathlon this year?

Triathlon season is almost upon us, so it’s about time to begin training if you are planning on entering one. We spoke to some of Abu Dhabi’s triathlon experts to get an idea of where to begin. It’s all about preparation, as we find out.

To start with, you need to decide what type (or distance) triathlon you want to enter. There are four; sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman and Ironman. They vary across different tracks, so be sure to look into where you want your first to be. TriYas on February 28 is a popular triathlon for beginners, its facilities includes the sprint and Olympic distance tracks.

Think about your fitness levels, what are your strengths? Triathlons require a strong endurance, since they involve three different sports over a long track.

TOAD spoke to triathlon regular and Abu Dhabi Triathlon organiser, Steve Watson, about when to begin.

Watson recommends starting early: ‘For sprint and Olympic distance events, to be competitive you should set up a training diary and programme during the 12-week lead-up.’ (See boxout top-right for a sample programme.)

Watson says it’s also about what you want to achieve. ‘Commitment to training also will vary depending on the individual’s goal for the event. For some it is just about participating while for others it may be chasing a podium finish in their age group.’

Trainer Ed Hawkins, from Tri Wings sports coaching, says it’s about learning to transition too. ‘I would also say it’s important that people practice “brick” sessions, so called because they are the building blocks of triathlon. Brick sessions are when, in training, you either swim and bike one after the other or more commonly bike and run. This way you can practise the “funny” feeling you get when you change disciplines during a race and therefore be prepared for it come race day.’

For those considering giving it a go, Hawkins has the following advice: ‘Enjoy it, set no goals, no time expectations and therefore you will not feel let down when you don’t hit those standards; if you do it’s an added bonus. You are taking part for fun – make sure you have lots of it!’ It’s also important to ensure you meet the minimum requirements – being able to swim in open water, with lots of people around you.

Consulting a trainer is highly recommended to get the programme you need. Consider joining a fitness club to stay motivated and meet like-minded individuals. Abu Dhabi has its own triathlon club, where athletes of all levels are welcome to join ( Otherwise, Watson says: ‘There are plenty of opportunities to take part in group sessions in Abu Dhabi with either the master swim sessions or group sea swims with members of the Abu Dhabi Triathlon club, running sessions with the Abu Dhabi Striders ( and group rides with the Raha cycling ( group.’

Rookie mistakes to avoid? ‘Buying new equipment such as running shoes or race kit and not trying it out before race day – chafe city!’ Says Hawkins.
Contact Ed Hawkins and Tri Wings at

Dates for your tri-diary

When: October 4, 2013
Where: Wadi Adventure, Al Ain
More information: (050 817 8955)

Jones Lang LaSalle Super Sprint & Sprint Triathlon
When: October 12, 2013
Where: Jebel Ali Golf Hotel, Dubai
More information:

2XU Tri
When: November 1 2013
Where: Mamzar, Dubai.
More information:

When: February 28, 2014
Where: Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island
More information:

Abu Dhabi Triathlon
When: March 15 2014
Where: East Plaza, Corniche
More information:

Training hard

A few training tips to get you going
• Swim at least two sessions a week (one x pool session and one x open water swim).

• Cycle at least two sessions per week (Tuesday night at Yas Marina Circuit with a run off the bike and a long ride on either Friday or Saturday).

• Running two-three times per week: a short run (5-10kms) with speed work, an interval session, a long run (10-15kms).

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