Preparing for a Triathlon

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If you’re looking for a new challenge and something to help you focus and train, then a triathlon could well be the answer. It’s an ideal physical challenge with varying levels of difficulty, and a beginner could be ready to complete one in as little as 12 weeks of training time!

The three different aspects of a triathlon can make it more appealing to those who find a simple long-distance run or cycle a bit mundane. There’s swimming, cycling and running and you can complete them over sprint distance, middle distance or long distance, which means you can select a challenge suited to your fitness level and training time you have available.

Swimming is often regarded as the most difficult part of a triathlon but it’s also the shortest part. It’s thought by most to be more difficult than running or cycling, and depending on which type of challenge you take on it could be in open water or in a swimming pool. To complete the swim, you’ll need access to facilities to train your body properly and luckily, there are plenty of pools in Perth run by Live Active Leisure for you to prepare! Whether you’re based in the city and head to Perth Leisure Pool for your lengths, or put the goggles on in one of the other facilities in Perthshire, you have all you need to get ready for your triathlon swim.

The length of your swim will depend on which distance of triathlon you’re taking on. Sprint distance races tend to have up to a 750m swim, compared to 2500m in a middle distance or 4000m in a long distance – although these can vary. In order to prepare appropriately, you should also be clear on whether your race includes an open water swim or if it will take place in a pool. Open water swims not only require additional training, but they also require equipment such as a wet suit!

Triathlon cyclistThe longest part of the triathlon comes right in the middle. Sandwiched in between the swim and the run is the cycle and it tends to be the part of the race that most people find the easiest. If you are a complete beginner, you may not even have a bike but don’t think that you need to splash the cash on something fancy for the race. The great team down at ‘The Bike Station’ in Perth will be able to help you by providing a more cost effective alternative, which will be more than capable of getting you over the line. You can read our article on 'The Bike Station' here.

Training for the cycle is relatively simple and can be done out on the open road or on an exercise bike at home or in the gym. It’s important to gear your training around the miles you will be covering, steadily working your way up to the race day distance. One tip for those who are doing their first triathlon is to try and do running training directly after a cycle. Although they use similar muscle groups, the muscles are used in different ways and swapping the bike for the running shoes can be tough on the legs!

Triathlon runningThe run is the final leg of the triathlon journey and can range from 5km right up to 30km depending on it being sprint, middle or long distance. During your training, you should be sure to do different exercises to improve your overall aerobic fitness. This will not only improve your running time, but will also help with the other aspects of the triathlon. Try mixing long distance running with some ‘Fartlek training’. For those who don’t know, that is a long distance run where you vary the speed and intensity at different intervals. You can find out more information here.

For someone with very limited physical fitness, a triathlon may seem unachievable and unrealistic. However, a twelve week training regime would be sufficient for almost anybody to tackle a sprint triathlon, and it’s a fun way to get in shape and achieve your fitness goals. Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent!


There are plenty of ways to get involved in triathlons in Perthshire. You can utilise some of Live Active Leisure’s fantastic facilities across the region – find out more by visiting their Small City directory listing.

Perth Triathlon Club hosts their Relay Wild Triathlon in August at Kilgraston. You can find out more by visiting the event page on the Perth Triathlon Club website.

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