Triathlon can be pretty intimidating and I'm sure there are many questions you may have when signing up or even thinking about signing up with the club. So, please feel free to reply to this thread and ask any tri-related question that may be on your mind. I'm hardly an expert but between everyone in the club I'm sure we can answer your questions.
To get the ball rolling, here's a few commonly queries (including some that people are often too afraid to talk about!!). Some of this stuff will be covered by the membership handbook (if you haven't got one don't panic, it's being updated and will be available soon) but you can just skip over stuff you know already!
Q: What gear do I need? A: This is a complicated question, so I'll start with the most basic stuff and work my way up. Starting out in triathlon can be expensive so don't feel you need to buy everything at once and don't be afraid to post on the forum to see if anyone has gear to spare that you can borrow.
The most basic things you'll need for the pool are Swimming togs (ideally tight ones, swimming trunks will slow you down in the water), goggles and a swimming hat. This is enough to get you through a few pool swims.
However, it would be good if you could also have a pull-buoy, training fins and swimming paddles. These can be bought in sports shops like Amphibian King or Base2Race or online (Amazon, ChainReactionCycles, Wiggle, SwimCycleRun.com, etc.). If you're not sure what any of those items are, I've intentionally used Google-friendly terminology so copy & paste it into Google and you'll know what to look for.
For open-water swimming you will need a wetsuit. You will need one for all Triathlon Ireland-sanctioned open-water swims in Ireland (unless we get a serious heat-wave). I would also recommend some Body-Glide and/or lots of Vaseline around your neck to avoid chafing and around your wrists and ankles in races to make it quicker/easier to get off. And to avoid situations where you're swimming towards the sun and cannot see where you're going, it is advisable to get shaded goggles.
First and foremost, your bike, ideally a road bike/racer. Certainly if buying a new bike, go for a racer. You might be tempted to go for a hybrid but I can almost guarantee you'll regret not going straight for the racer in the first place.
You need a helmet. This is essential and you will not be allowed to cycle with the club or in a Triathlon Ireland-sanctioned event without one. This is for your own safety.
That's enough to get you through a cycle or two. But you really are better off in proper cycling gear (gloves, padded shorts, wind-proof jacket). Bring water and food with you (a banana or fig rolls or something that'll fit in your pocket to eat).
Runners. That's it! Preferably good ones as old or unsuitable ones can cause injury. I recommend going to
in Bray for these as they're very helpful and won't make you feel like an idiot for not knowing much about runners.
Q: How often do I need to train? A: This very much depends on what you want to get out of it. Whatever you do, don't overdo it. Build your training up slowly and don't jump from no training to training every day or you'll be exhausted and possibly make yourself sick.
Talk to the coaches and to more experienced members and ask their opinions. To see improvements in disciplines you'd want to be doing 2-3 sessions per week, not necessarily all of the same intensity though. But you may want to focus on your weakest discipline. Again, it's up to you how much you put in and how much free time you have, so don't be put off by thinking you're not doing enough. You'll get out of it what you put in!
Q: Do I need to compete in triathlons to join the club? A: Not at all. Whether it's from injury or lack of competitive nature, competing in races is not for everyone. While we strongly encourage it as it is fun, exciting and a great conversation-starter with other members, it is far from essential. Being part of the club is more than just competing - for many it's a way to keep fit, a way to meet new people and a way to catch up with friends.
Q: Do I need to buy all of the club gear? A: No. What you wear is up to you. Having said that, having appropriate gear is important and if you're planning on buying new cycling gear, a tri-suit, etc. you'll find that our club gear is quite competitively-priced and good quality. The biggest advantage in the club gear is the extra shouts of encouragement you get if you're racing, and not just from our own members. I've had plenty of "Go on Wicklow!" shouted at me by randomers.
Q: How good at running do I need to be to turn up to club sessions? A: Ideally you can run around 5km but even if you can't, come along anyway and Eamonn will have you running in no time. He's excellent at managing different abilities at once and has a wealth of experience in coaching. You will not be left at the side of the road!
Q: Should I wear underwear on the bike? A: Not unless you (a) have some cycling-specific underwear (with added cushioning) or (b) want to have red-raw private parts from chafing. Cotton underwear will rub and cause you pain and the padding in cycling bottoms are usually anti-bacterial so it is not unhygienic to go commando. And that is not limited to just the men by the way...
Q: Do I need a GPS watch? A: No. GPS watches are definitely useful and if you're interested in getting one, feel free to post on the forum asking for advice. However, you can certainly get by without one.
Q: What does HRM mean? A: HRM stands for Heart-Rate Monitor and can be very useful in training. By knowing your maximum heart-rate you can determine at what heart-rate you can do your easier sessions at, for example. It is not essential but it would be recommended for people who are eager to improve; most modern GPS watches can be bought with a HRM.
Q: What do "threshold" and VO2Max mean? A: These relate to your heart-rate and basically give you an indication of how hard you can push yourself in a race without blowing all of your energy in the first minute! There are some great articles online about them like
Q: What do "transition", "T1", "T2" mean? A: In triathlon events you have "transition areas"; these are areas where you set up your bike for the cycle leg of your race, your runners for the run, etc. T1 refers to your first transition, from swim -> cycle, so running out from the water, getting out of your wetsuit, on with your helmet, cycling shoes, etc., grab your bike and off you go. T2 refers to the second transition, from cycle -> run, so coming in off the bike, dropping your bike back where you left off from, taking off your helmet, putting on your runners and off you go. If you're not sure about how to go about all of this, ask a more experienced member of the club to go through it with you! It can be rather daunting the first time but it's quite straight-forward really.
Q: What is drafting? A: Drafting occurs when you gain an advantage by getting in close behind someone. While this is thoroughly encouraged in the swim (so long as the person you're following is swimming in a straight line, don't assume they are!), it is currently illegal on the cycle part of most races and you can receive time penalties or even be disqualified for doing it. It's the same principal as why it's easier to cycle in a group and something I'm sure Garry will cover on
his cycling for beginners thread
at some point.
Q: What's a "brick session"? A: As articles online like
explain, a brick session is when you do 2 disciplines back-to-back, the most common one being running straight after cycling. If you've ever tried running after a tough cycle you'll realise that your legs will be like jelly, so practising running straight after a cycle is quite important to try coming up to races. If you're still wondering why it's called a "brick session", keep wondering, no-one really knows... the only explanation I've ever seen was "bike, run... ick!!"
Q: What's a turbo? A: A turbo-trainer is a stationary trainer for the bike. It allows you to train indoors, can really help improve your cycling power and is very useful over winter. John Darcy currently runs a turbo session in the Assembly Hall in Wicklow town on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm (until the weather improves midweek at least) - to do this you'd need your own turbo. If you want to buy one but are unsure what to get, feel free to post on the forum asking for advice.
Q: What do "gears", "cranks", "big ring", "cleats", "drop bars", "sprockets" mean? A: These are all cycling terms - Google is great for finding these things out and I'm sure Garry will cover these issues and more (like how to change a tyre) on
his cycling for beginners thread
at some point.
Q: Do I need mudguards on my bike? A: During wet weather it's preferable if you have mudguards on when cycling in a group to avoid spraying the person behind you. But it's not 100% essential so don't avoid the cycles because you haven't bought any mudguards yet!
Q: What are interval sessions? And what on earth is a fartlek? A: Interval sessions are sessions in which you may have a slow pace and a quick pace and spend some time at each pace, e.g. 1 minute hard, 2 minutes recovery. A fartlek is usually a type of interval session where you're going off the whistle with no idea of how long each interval will last. Again, if you Google for the terms you'll find some great articles about them.
Q: Should I wear underwear on the bike?
A: Not unless you (a) have some cycling-specific underwear (with added cushioning) or (b) want to have red-raw private parts from chafing. Cotton underwear will rub and cause you pain and the padding in cycling bottoms are usually anti-bacterial so it is not unhygienic to go commando. And that is not limited to just the men by the way...
I never knew this. I've been cycling around with my boxers under my cycling shorts for the past 3 years. I hope its not cold next Saturday