We could fill every inch of a year’s worth of Triathlete issues with training advice—there’s that much information and that many approaches to triathlon training. But you don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport to get a successful start. We compiled some of the most common training questions we hear and had veteran coach and successful former pro Jimmy Riccitello (Riccitello.com) weigh in with his expert opinion.
How many months/weeks of training will I need? “If you’re a reasonably fit person who can swim a bit, you could do a sprint triathlon tomorrow,” says Riccitello. Recommended? No. But doable? Yes. “If you break it down into individual parts—a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run—it’s not such a daunting event,” he says, “unless you don’t know how to swim.” The swim is typically the biggest hurdle for newbies, says Riccitello, and “if the ‘sink or swim’ saying has a literal meaning to you, you’ll need to get some lessons.” However, if you are comfortable in the water and have a bike that’s in good working order, an athlete with decent base fitness should be able to pedal through 12 miles and run 3, he says. A caveat, though: “Having said that, the more time you dedicate to training for your first triathlon, the more prepared you will be.”