So, you have decided to have a go at your first triathlon, well done! At this stage, you probably have 1000 questions starting with the following one: how should I prepare before the race?Training, equipment, race format, etc.

Don't panic, this article will tell you all you need to know about tackling your first triathlon race without any problems.



One of the first factors to take into consideration in order to have a great initial experience in the triathlon is choosing the right distance. Indeed, there are a number of race formats and, depending on your sporting profile and motivation, you will need to choose the one that suits you best in order to get as much enjoyment from it is possible. Having a good knowledge of your own body is a key element to avoid making a mistake in choosing from the following available race formats:

- XS format (or sprint): 750 m swim, 20 km cycle, 8 km run Ideal for beginners in all the disciplines.

- SD (or Olympic) format: 1.5 km swim; 40 km cycle, 10 km run.This distance is reserved for those who regularly practise at least one of the disciplines and it already represents a big challenge for a first triathlon.

- L format (long distance): 1.9 m swim, 90 km cycle, 21 km run This race format is not recommended for those entering their first triathlon because it is physically and mentally demanding.

- XXL format (Ironman): 3.8 m swim, 180 km cycle, 42 km run This is the ultimate aim for many sportsmen and women who start the triathlon but it is essential to take your time and not skip any of the necessary stages. Very few athletes have the ability to complete the XXL distance when they start out in triathlon. It is strongly recommended to have at least completed an L race format beforehand).

Once you have gained a better understanding of the many different distances offered by the sport, you need to take a leap of faith and complete the most difficult part of your adventure... signing up! The only point on which you need to take careful consideration is the timeframe available to you before the event. Give yourself enough time to train and get yourself organised.


The triathlon is a demanding sport that requires a disciplined preparation because you are not just going for a swim, cycle or run, you will be doing all three one after the other. This means that you have to practise all the sports involved during the training phase.

The amount of training can generally be broken down as follows for each race format:

- Preparing for a sprint race format requires at least 4 sessions/week (3 to 4 hours of training over 8 weeks).

- In order to prepare for a short distance race format, give yourself 4 sessions/week (no less than 6 hours of training over 12 weeks).

- A long distance triathlon will require at least 5 sessions/week (8 to 10 hours of training over 20 weeks).

- Finally, for the triathlon junkies, the Ironman will require at least 6 sessions/week with 14 to 16 hours of training over 24 weeks. Bear in mind that training plans that exceed 24 weeks are relatively inefficient.

In order to be ready for the day of the race and enjoy yourself during the race, all you need to do is find out How to train for your first triathlon


Nutrition and hydration are a very important point which, if neglected, will turn your race into a living hell! A simple rule: test your nutrition under the real-life conditions that you will experience on the day of the race. These tests will reveal how tolerant you are to certain energy foods. Some of you will need to mix savoury and sweet products while others will eat solid food on the bike when you still have enough energy to chew comfortably on a bar. Or you will want to choose some quick-release products such as gels for the running leg.Be careful not to take too much as this can cause stomach cramps (I will spare you the details on the consequences of this). Finally, also try out your hydration beforehand in order to find the ideal quantity that suits you for the triathlon.



During a triathlon, you will swim, cycle and run, which means that having the right equipment in order to experience the race under the best possible conditions is essential. Here is a recap of the equipment for your first triathlon


The final, and probably the most important, step is the preparation of your equipment! In order to arrive at the bike park on the day of the race with peace of mind, remember to prepare everything in advance and thereby avoid any needless anxiety. Don't hesitate to put together a check list with the equipment you need for each discipline:

The tri suit, neoprene wetsuit and swimming goggles.

The bike, race number holder, helmet, glasses and the cycling shoes if you are wearing them for the cycling leg.

The running shoes for the running leg and a visor or helmet if it is hot.

The nutrition and hydration products.

Anti-rubbing cream to prevent neck irritations due to the neoprene wetsuit.

Then, put the equipment that you will need in the transition zone so that you can easily grab it when switching discipline.

Preparation of the equipment on the day of the race: an essential element!



Being aware of a few guidelines regarding the transitions can be of help to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the day of the race. First of all, a little training in advance will ensure you are properly prepared for the day of the race. Then, having a well-organised transition zone is a key factor in being able to find everything you need as you get out of the water for the first transition and when you are preparing for the running leg during the second transition.

The keywords for ensuring that the transitions run smoothly: organisation and anticipation!

To find out more tips, we provide explanations on how to achieve a good transition


You will be introduced to a fascinating discipline where you will meet other athletes who have experienced the same exhausting preparations, the same doubts, the same hopes, etc. Your only rival is yourself – before anything else it is a personal challenge! Talk with the other triathletes and you will discover that they have not descended from another planet, nor are they mad men. Each one will give you their advice or their own miracle cure for ensuring that the race goes well. Make sure you take on their advice!

Beware: for many, triathlon becomes addictive when they get a taste of the euphoria generated by the discipline and all they can think about is when they will start their next triathlon! You will find that the other triathletes are very good-natured, enthusiastic and appreciative – a truly unique feeling! So, why not take the plunge?

Enjoy your run!

Cowritten by Charlotte and Alexandre

photo conseiller


Je suis passionné de triathlon depuis 5 ans, pratiquant de longue distance, triathlon L et XL. Je suis licencié au club de l’AMSLF Triathlon à Fréjus. Quelques belles expériences épinglées à mon tableau de chasse : Ironman 70.3 Aix en Provence, Polar international triathlon de Cannes, Embrunman… Cycliste aguerri et piètre nageur je cours comme je conçois le triathlon en allant au bout de moi même et au delà