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Welcome to the triathlon 101 guide. Have you ever thought about participating in a triathlon, but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone! Triathlons are an endurance multi-sport race consisting of swimming, cycling, and running, and it can seem daunting to train and prepare for one.

However, triathlons can also be incredibly rewarding, and with the right preparation, anyone can do it! In this beginner’s guide to triathlons, we’ll cover everything from the history of triathlon to training tips and post-race recovery. So let’s jump in and learn how to crush your first triathlon!

History of Triathlon:

The first modern triathlon was held in California in the 1970s, but the origin of the sport can be traced back to France in the 1920s.

The first recorded triathlon was a race in France that consisted of a run, bike, and canoe segment. Triathlons continue to grow in popularity, with millions of people participating every year.

Different Triathlon Distances:

There are four main types of triathlon races: sprint, Olympic, half-ironman, and full ironman. The distances vary, but typically include a swim, bike, and run.

Sprint is the shortest distance, with a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, and a 5-kilometer run. A full Ironman is the longest distance, with a 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-kilometer bike, and a 42.2-kilometer run. As a beginner, it’s best to start with a sprint and work your way up.

How Many People Do Triathlons Every Year?

Triathlons have become increasingly popular over the years, with millions of people participating annually.

According to USA Triathlon, the governing body for the sport in the US, over 4 million Americans completed a triathlon from 2007-2017.

This number continues to grow, and more and more people are joining the triathlon community every year.

Tips for Training for a Triathlon:

Training for a triathlon can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that consistency is key. Start with a beginner’s training plan, and gradually increase your distance and intensity.

Make sure to include all three disciplines in your training, and practice your transitions between each one. Joining a triathlon club or finding a training partner can also be helpful for motivation and accountability.

Triathlon Gear Checklist:

Before participating in a triathlon, there are some essential pieces of gear you’ll need, including a wetsuit (if the race is in open water), a triathlon bike (although a road bike can work too), running shoes, and other items such as goggles, a bike helmet, and a race belt. It’s important to have everything organized and ready to go for race day.

Triathlon gear checklist:


  • Wetsuit (if required)
  • Swim cap
  • Goggles (with anti-fog solution)
  • Body glide
  • Pre-race sandals or other footwear
  • Towel
  • Ear plugs (optional)


  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses or clear eye protection
  • Cycling gloves
  • Cycling shoes
  • Water bottles (or hydration pack)
  • Spare tube or tubes (and/or patch kit)
  • Floor pump
  • Tire levers
  • Cyclist’s multi-tool
  • CO2 inflator (with cartridge) or minipump
  • Bike tire pressure gauge
  • Handlebar end caps


  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • Running hat (optional)
  • Running jacket (optional)
  • Sunscreen
  • Race belt
  • Change of clothes


  • Timing chip and strap
  • Fuel and hydration (gels, bars, drinks, etc.)
  • Race number
  • First aid kit
  • ID
  • Cell phone
  • Toiletries
  • Plastic bags


  • Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.
  • Bring a towel to dry off after the swim.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin.
  • Wear comfortable, breathable clothing.
  • Make sure your gear is well-fitting and secure.
  • Practice transitioning between the different stages of the race.


  • Start packing your gear early so you don’t forget anything.
  • Label all of your gear with your name and contact information.
  • Bring a spare set of clothes in case you get wet or dirty.
  • Be sure to hydrate and fuel properly before, during, and after the race.
  • Have fun!


Participating in a triathlon can be a challenging and rewarding experience, and with the right preparation, anyone can do it.

From the history of triathlon to training tips and gear checklists, there’s a lot to learn about this exciting sport.

Remember to take things one step at a time and have fun along the way. Who knows, you might just find yourself hooked on the thrill of competing in triathlons for years to come!

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