You never forget how to ride a bike – but the tricky thing for triathlon is turning your leisurely cycling into a race effort. As ever, training’s the answer to building up your strength, agility and speed – so read on for our top tips with some extra help along the way.
1. Tailor your training to your fitness levels
The amount of training you'll need to put in before your triathlon will depend on your current level of fitness and your cycling ability.
If you haven’t ridden a bike for year – or ever! – you’ll have to start your training regime at least four months in advance. You should build up your mileage gradually so you don’t over-exercise or get injured – this will also help you get a good base fitness so you can build your stamina up from there.
You’ve got moderate fitness if you’ve been cycling intermittently over the years, perhaps by cycling to work in the summer or regular Sunday rides with the family. This means you’ll likely have some basic fitness and confidence for cycling, so two to three months should be enough time to prepare.
If you’ve got good fitness – you cycle regularly throughout the year, either to work every day or you race at the weekends – you’ll probably already have a good training schedule and you should be fit enough to tackle your tri without too much extra training.
For more advice on how to plan your training, read our guide here.
2. Eat right
Cycling burns more than 300 calories per hour, so as you’re training you’ll probably find that your appetite increase as you burn that energy off! To make sure you’re looking after your body, you need to be eating well so that you give your muscles fuel, repair any muscle or tissue damage, and replace lost electrolytes and nutrients.
You triathlon training diet should include:
- Carbohydrates: a high carb diet’s recommended for anyone involved in an endurance sport such as cycling, as carbs give you the bulk of your energy.
- Fats: fats help breakdown food to give you enough energy and help store the sugar and energy you’ll need. Around 20-30% of your diet should be fats.
- Proteins: proteins are the building blocks of tissue repair, so it’s important for cyclists to consume 15-20% of protein in their diet to help rebuild muscle and tissue fibres.
- Vitamins and minerals: these, alongside other micro-nutrients, have an important part to play – by eating a variety of fresh fruit and veg, you’ll be keeping your immune system healthy and helping with tissue repair.
- Water: this is just as important as food. Even when you feel you don't need it, drink plenty. It’s just as important to keep your fluid up after exercise to help you recover.
Read our nutritional advice for more hints and tips on how you can make sure your body’s healthy for your tri.
3. Make sure your bike’s in good condition
If you've already got a bike, you're already halfway there! But if your bike’s been gathering dust and you’re just taking it back out now for your training, it’s a good idea to take it along to a good quality bike shop, where they’ll be able to give it a thorough service.
Once you’ve got your bike in good working order, don’t forget all the kit: you’ll need a good quality helmet and cycling clothes – check out our online shop for some lovely branded kit to show you’re beating blood cancer as you train. And make sure you stay safe by getting reflective clothing and lights if you’re training after dark.
Read more bike advice here.
4. Structure your sessions
When you’re training, it’s important to structure your sessions and training schedule properly so you get the most out of them and you don’t get injured.
Warm up for at least ten minutes at the start of each session, and don’t forget to stretch after your session as well: our stretch and exercise circuit has more details to help you. The rounded shoulder position that you use on your bike can lead to overstretched upper back muscles and a tight chest, so by spending a few minutes stretching after each ride you’ll help prevent this from happening!
Make sure you plan recovery time into your schedule – whilst you need to cycle at least twice a week to retain your cycle strength, you should give yourself time in-between to recover. Between two and four outings a week is enough. One of these outings every week or fortnight should be a long ride, for more than hour, to build up your endurance.
5. Know the course
Make sure you know the route! For example, at Blenheim you’ll have to cycle more than one lap of the course, so remember to count how many laps you’ve done so far so you don’t cycle farther than you need to!
There are also no drink stations on the bike course at Blenheim – you might want to buy and prepare a drink before the race starts so it’s ready for you on your bike in the transition area.
If it’s wet on the day, the bike course at Blenheim can get very slippery, so make sure you’re extra careful if the weather’s poor.
Our Blenheim course video details what one lap of the bike course is like – make sure you give it a watch ahead of race day, as we’ve also included some hints and tips along the way to help you plan your training.