While it might seem intimidating, completing a mini-triathlon is well within the reach of almost anyone.
The typical distances for this type of event are a ¼-mile swim, followed by a 14-mile bike and a 5K run. These are not iron man competitions, but fun and achievable events. Training for a mini-triathlon also provides a great balance of fitness benefits.
The running requirements for mini-triathlon training are minimal, with 1-3-mile runs three times per week. This type of training is certainly not for someone who plans on winning the event, but someone whose goal is to finish and have fun doing so.
The swim portion of these events is usually the biggest deterrent to first-timers. Not everyone knows how to swim, and not everyone will swim in a lake. The other parts of the event are less intimidating. You can always slow down during the run, or even walk.
So, how does a newcomer start training for a triathlon? The basic training schedule requires three days of biking, three days of running and two days of swimming each week. On one of these days the biking and running must be done together.
The bike-run workout is also known as a "brick" workout. This transition from biking to running is difficult for some people to get used to because the legs get fatigued after the biking, making the start of the run very laborious. But after trying the transition from biking to running several times, it becomes easier.
After biking, you should start running slowly; you can even walk a bit if necessary. Once you get your legs back into a normal rhythm, you can pick up the pace. You can also choose to maintain a slower, steady pace.
After training regularly for couple weeks, you can increase a day for the bike, the run and the swim. Ultimately, you want to have one longer bike and run and swim day, one faster bike, run and swim day, and one brick day.
On the days you work on speed, warm up easily for 10 minutes and then try to do four to six intervals of two to three minutes on the run or bike, followed by an easier pace for the rest of workout.
A typical training schedule may look something like this:
Sunday: Longer bike -- 60 to 90 minutes.
Monday: Swim -- 10 to 20 mins.
Tuesday: Longer run -- 20 to 30 mins.
Wednesday: Faster bike -- 30 to 45 mins.
Thursday: Faster run -- 10 to 20 mins. (can add the second swim this day, 10 to 20 min, as
this is a shorter day and it may be nice to cool off with a swim after the run).
Friday: Swim (or rest day if swim is done on Thursday)
Saturday: Brick workout -- 45 mins. bike; 10 mins. run (increasing up to 30 mins. over a month)
Overall, this type of schedule should get you feeling comfortable completing the mini-triathlon distances. It is best to try to do some swimming in a lake with open water before the event if your triathlon takes place in a lake. There are also some triathlons where the swim takes place in a pool.
The time ranges for a mini event may be somewhere from 55 minutes for the winner to more that two hours for beginners. Training with the above schedule should prepare someone to finish comfortably, usually under one hour and 45 minutes, depending on the individual's abilities.
Many people do these events with a friend. It is motivating to train with a partner and complete the event with a friend where you can swim, ride and run together. The trick is to start together in the swim and find each other by the bike when you get out of the water.
There are numerous triathlons in the summer, several each month.
Silent Sports Magazine at www.silentsports.net publishes a calendar in the back of each issue with events in Wisconsin and the surrounding states.
The Badgerland Striders calendar has most of the Wisconsin triathlons listed, check their web site at www.badgerlandstriders.org.
The Tri Wisconsin group is a local triathlon club with around 200 members at www.triwisconsin.org.