As with other long races, like marathons or Grand Tour cycling races, the main difficulty of competing in a triathlon is building up the physical and mental strength and endurance needed to finish the race. Triathletes have an added challenge: balancing the three different legs of the race.
Because each triathlete has different strengths and weaknesses, achieving balanced triathlon training doesn't necessarily mean giving each component of the race equal importance. Successful triathletes must constantly self-evaluate to figure out which sport they need to train for the most and to make sure that their performance in any one sport isn't much weaker than the others.
For beginners, experts recommend training for each of the three sports at least twice per week to increase your familiarity and comfort level with each. As the race approaches, your training schedule is subject to change, as you will likely gear up to longer training sessions for each sport in an effort to simulate each leg of the race and the transitions.
Mental balance is also important to becoming a successful triathlete. Professional triathletes sometimes refer to a triathlon as two races: the one that takes place in the water and on the street, and the one between your ears. Overcoming the physical challenges of competing in one of the world's most intense endurance races requires extreme mental toughness and fortitude. Mental balance helps athletes stay focused while training, performing under pressure and, most of all, racing through pain.
The first step toward achieving mental balance is knowing what role the triathlon plays in your life and its level of importance to you. This will help keep your emotions in check and prevent the mental peaks and valleys often associated with triathlete life. The next step is learning to overcome physical challenges, tune out pain and maintain motivation, confidence and intensity on race day.
In order to make it there, you'll need the right gear. Read on to learn what equipment you'll need and how much it costs.