With thousands of triathlon races every year and multiple distances and terrains, it might be hard to pick your first race. This article will help you choose which triathlon would be the best for you.
The best triathlon for beginners is challenging enough to get a taste of the endurance sport and one that is easy to plan for. Ideally, it should be a short-distance triathlon, close to your home, and in the near future so you don’t have too much time to worry about it.
BEST TRIATHLON DISTANCE FOR BEGINNERS
Even if your goal is to do an Ironman event, I would highly recommend that you start with a much shorter event. A Super Sprint (0.25 mi swim – 6.2 mi bike – 1.6 mi run) or a Sprint distance triathlon (double the distance) is a perfect start. You can swim the entire distance breaststroke if needed and if you don’t have a road bike, you will still enjoy the biking portion with a mountain bike.
Just remember, don’t focus too much on your time but more on having fun for your first event!
You might hear some triathletes bragging that their first event was a half-distance triathlon or even a full distance (for details about the distances, check this article). However, they will also tell you that they wish they would have started with a shorter distance.
FIND A RACE NEAR YOU
Finding a triathlon race near you will be a big advantage for your first race. You won’t need to worry about packing luggage for your hotel, hence less chance of mixing clothes and forgetting some of your triathlon gears.
All races have a race briefing that you should attend. Having it in your native language will also be an advantage (speaking from experience 🙂 )
POOL VS OPEN WATER SWIM
A lot of my friends don’t want to start triathlon because of the swim portion and the fear of open water swimming. If it is also your case, you can of course practice swimming in a lake or sea (never alone!) or simply pick a triathlon where the swim is in a pool. There are a lot of them, especially at shorter distances.
BEST TIME TO REGISTER FOR YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON
You should definitely try to find a short distance event in your first months of training. If you are healthy, can swim, bike, and run and have the ok from your doctor, register for one as soon as you can. The longer you wait for doing your first race, the more you will think about it and the more stressed you will be.
You will actually learn much more by doing a race early on than reading dozens of books about it.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT
Once you registered for your first race, you might be tempted to look for information everywhere you can. Most of the tips you will find will actually confuse you more than anything else. Here are three resources I can recommend to you:
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
- for training plan: buy the book “Your First Triathlon” from Joe Friel (Amazon affiliate link). My wife and I used it for our first triathlon year, we found the plans easy to follow. You can use either a general plan if you are a beginner in the three sports or one which focuses on one of the sport if you are stronger in one discipline.
- for gears: read this article: “The Only Gears You Really Need For Your First Triathlon” so you will buy only what is really necessary
- for last-minute tips: check this article: “5 Last-Minute Triathlon Tips For A Successful Race“. If you read those and apply them, it should be the last tips you will need before your race 😉
Now that you found the perfect race for your first triathlon and started training, remember to have fun during your training and your race. It is the beginning of a great adventure.