How beginners can train for their first triathlon when they are over 50 is a good question to have and to answer. You have to start somewhere and I started with a Super Sprint Triathlon. I felt that I could face the race day because the swim distance was shorter.
Following a good triathlon training plan was the next step for me. I love the Garmin Training plans and use them all the time.
They are good for beginners and for advanced sports people. If you have never run, they even have a plan for you.
Runtastic Training program is also very good and you can use it free in the beginning. It is also called the Adidas Training Plans.
There are others out there that are good, but these two are what I have used for 10 years now.
What is the difference between a Super Sprint Triathlon and a Sprint Distance Triathlon?
The super sprint triathlon is a great way to start doing triathlons. Super sprint and the sprint triathlon are two different races and they offer more options.
The super sprint is often set up for complete beginners to give the sport a try. I have really enjoyed doing the super sprint triathlon because the swim is shorter. Swimming for 400m rather than 750m has been quite a motivating factor for me.
This is the best way to overcome the fear of open water swim.
Open water swimming is when you swim in the sea or a lake rather than in a swimming pool. The first time you swim in open water, you soon realize that it is very different from swimming in a pool. Pool swimming is very good for the beginning. You can learn to swim there because you can get to the side very quickly and you can learn to swim in a straight line. If you do not know how to swim, you can book yourself a swim coach and learn. There are often 10 swim packages and you will learn to swim in that time.
The sprint triathlon can be the same but is often done by those already in the sport and who want to reach peak performance. It can often be used as preparation for a longer triathlon distance.
Some people may also choose to stay at that distance to improve their time. This is also a great distance to stay because you train at a lower intensity and the time needed is minimal.
YOUR FIRST RACE AS A BEGINNER OVER 50
Believing in yourself to either try something new can be a real hurdle to overcome. All obstacles are real and you have to know if you really want this or not. How beginners can train for their first triathlon over 50 is really possible but you yourself remain to be the biggest obstacle. Keeping up with the planned and scheduled training sessions can be difficult. It does take some getting used to how much time is needed for the training.
There are always reasons why or why not to do something. This is true. So the first thing to do is make sure with your doctor that you will not be harming yourself as you start this adventure.
But there is good news, the training time can be worked into any work schedule. It is a good idea to have a very good look at your day to see where you can carve out time.
The more I have gone into triathlons or running, the more I learn that age is not an obstacle. Our age is what it is and we can do nothing about that. What we are chronologically, physically, or mentally is where the real challenges lay.
The older you get, the more careful you must be in your training. So adapt accordingly. There are many great triathlon training programs out there and I love and use the Garmin training plans.
KNOW YOUR RACE
The different distances for triathlons are:
Super Sprint Triathlon: swim for 400m, cycle 10 or 20 km, and run 2,5 or 5 km
Sprint Triathlon: swim for 750m, cycle 20 km, and run 5 km
Olympic Distance Triathlon: swim for 1.5km, then on the bike for 40km, and lastly run for 10km
Half Ironman: swim for 1.2 miles (1.9km), then bike for 56 miles (90km), and then run for 13.1 miles (21.1km)
Ironman Triathlon: Ironman Distance Triathlons are not for the faint-hearted. It is a 2.4-mile (3.8km) swim, a 112-mile (180km) cycle, and a 26.2-mile (42.2km) run.
Each one offers a different challenge and whatever distance you choose, you will find a suitable training program. The swim remains to be the most challenging part of the triathlon for many people. Whether you can clear a mile bike ride or a mile run, the mile swim completion is a great achievement for any beginner.
Consistency and small steps will and can get you there. In the beginning, this seems impossible though. How beginners can train for their first triathlon over 50 is still possible if you do and overcome one step at a time.
SOME ASPECTS YOU WILL FIND IN YOUR TRAINING
It does not matter whether you are training for an Olympic triathlon or a Super Sprint triathlon there are similar aspects to the training.
The long run is included to build up your endurance and stamina. This will take more time and so you will often do it over the weekend or on your usual day off. Endurance athletes are those that have trained well and finished the long distances. All of us can build towards that, it just takes planning to fit it in. Long-distance running, swimming, or cycling is also a space that I love – it gives me time to think, look around, and pray. You will discover treasures as you get into endurance sports. When you run a long distance you know that something has changed in your approach to fitness.
The swim sessions can be done in your local swimming pool. This is a good place to start. At some point though, you do have to swim in the lake or in the sea. If your race is in either the sea or in the lake and you do not do some training sessions there then on race day you will experience some real challenges. The local swim centers are great and are often very affordable. They offer shelter when the weather is too bad to be outside.
Every week in your training you will have a rest day. This is so difficult to keep to because you will feel that you are losing fitness. It is so important though because this is where you recover to become stronger. There will also be recovery weeks, here the distances and intensity of training really do ease.
THE GEAR NEEDED IN YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON
The Triathlon bike is quite different from a normal racing bike. It has two extra handlebars between the normal handles. This is so that the racer can rest their arms and become more streamlined for the longer distances. You do not need this triathlon bike for the Sprint or Olympic distance races. The longer races are where this specialty bike comes into play.
In the beginning, you can do the Sprint distances with a normal city bike or with a normal racing bike. You will not be out of place.
The triathlon suit is great to have but it is not a necessity. I have done three sprint triathlons without one. I have a normal sports one-piece swimsuit and a pair of swimming tights/shorts. They have both served me really well.
BENEFITS OF DOING A TRIATHLON WHEN YOU ARE OVER 50
As we get older we do lose muscle mass but I have found that doing the training for triathlons, has really slowed this process down. As a ‘senior triathlete,’ I am enjoying this benefit. I do not mind aging but I like to do what I can to stay fit without being excessive about it.
I have also enjoyed having something to do with younger people. We start together but I do not race with them. I encourage them to go ahead and we can celebrate together at the end. This works really well.
There are also benefits when you add strength training to your training and learn about how beginners can train for their first triathlon over 50. Here are a couple of options of what you can do for strength training:
Planks are the simplest – they strengthen your core and help you with good form
HIIT – High Intensive Interval Training programs are done in short spurts and they elevate your heart rate, can be done quickly, and can be tailored to target strength.
Pilates – this is excellent to complement any workout program and if you have a gym or club near you, join up today. There are videos available but it is always good to have an instructor checking out your form.
The main workouts include the obvious. The run sessions. The swim sessions. And the cycling sessions. The things that are a bit different and will take some getting used to are the Brick sessions. They are where you go for a cycle and as soon as you get off your bicycle – you go for a run. The reason this is so difficult is that it takes a transition time for your body to adapt and change to the new movement. Your legs will feel like bricks and that takes some getting used to.
If you are starting with an absolute beginner training program, stick to it as it will build and you will see progress. Every training program addresses different training needs. The long-distance triathlon will take up more of your time and energy. Chose a training program wisely and don’t overestimate what you can start with.
GOOD SHAPE and over 50
The other plus points for doing 3 sports is that I no longer have joint pain, I have the muscle strength and the swim workouts are preventing me from overstraining my knees. Triathlon sports are not just for the young or for the professional sports people. The diversity in the sport keeps my interest high and I stay motivated.
I try to run a couple of times a week and then I go to the swimming pool as well. The bike rides are more spontaneous during my off-season. In the back of my mind, I want to stay fit and ready for my next triathlon. I do not stay in constant ‘training’ but I do try to stay in good shape in all three sports.
I have only done one race distance so far but I would like to aim for the Olympic distance next year.
Endurance has always been an issue for me so keeping up in the three sports during the winter months, I think will help with endurance training and maintenance.
THE WHOLE PACKAGE
The hard work that is needed to take part in endurance events definitely takes its toll on energy levels. The training process takes a long time and it is not to be rushed. A good rule of thumb is to always remember why you are doing this and what you hope to achieve. I started with a half-distance triathlon and that helped me so much with my time management.
In the new year, the training volume will increase as I prepare for the Olympic distance triathlon. As many ‘senior athletes’ realize that to become a stronger runner or triathlete, we have to deal with shorter workouts first before tackling the longer distances. This is a good base from which to build.
NEW FRIENDS WHO ALSO LOVE TRIATHLONS
To be able to join triathlete groups is always a good idea. They provide good training, great challenges and super friendships will be made. There are many days when it is difficult to be self-motivated but if you join a club then meeting friends makes it all worthwhile. In some areas it is far better to train in a group than on your own, safety reasons always have to be taken into account.
The whole idea to train together will take you to good places. Those who have been doing this longer will give solid training tricks and tips. This added social life will make the time, effort, and training strain fly by.
When you listen and learn from others you will have fewer injuries to deal with because they have been through them all and will be so happy to guide you.
HEADING FOR THE FINISH LINE
How beginners can train for their first triathlon over 50 includes learning about the transition area. This is where your bike will be and you have to pick it up after your swim. This area is often called T1 for Transition 1. After your bike leg, you will then redeposit your bike before you start your run. This second area is called T2, for Transition 2.
It is important here to learn about all the safety rules for when you are transitioning. They are not strenuous and all the race officials are always on hand to guide you.
How beginners can train for their first triathlon when they are over 50 is a good question to have and to answer. You have to start somewhere and I started with a Super Sprint Triathlon. I felt that I could face the race day because the swim distance was shorter. Following a good triathlon training plan was the next step for me.