Getting Started with Triathlon

Getting Started with Triathlon

by Coach Todd Lawless

The sport of triathlon can seem intimidating at first since it incorporates three different sports and most people are only aware of the iconic race held in Kona each year for elite level athletes.  If you think about it though, you’ve probably been swimming, biking, and running before.  Putting the three disciplines together really isn’t that difficult!  This month I’d like to address some common first-timer questions that seem to keep people away from the sport. 

Q: How long is a triathlon?

A: The most common distance for triathlon is the Olympic (or International) distance.  The event consists of a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and a 10K run.  Most people begin their triathlon careers with a Sprint distance event.  These are usually a 500 meter swim, a 12 mile bike, and a 5K run.  This is a great distance to race when learning the sport because it doesn’t require as much training as an Olympic and you probably already have all the gear you need to be successful!  

Q: Do I need to buy a new bike?

A: For beginners in the sport of triathlon most any bike will suffice.  If you don’t own a bike then you’ll need to purchase one!  Whether you own or purchase a mountain bike, road bike, or a hybrid bike you’ll be able to make simple modifications to help you succeed in any Sprint or Olympic distance race.  It’s best to get a couple of races under your belt before you decide to make the investment in a good road or triathlon bike. 

Q: What gear do I need to participate in a triathlon?

A: Surprisingly little!  For the swim you’ll need a pair of goggles.  For the bike you’ll need a helmet and a bike.  For the run all you need is a pair of running shoes.  Most athletes wear a triathlon suit for the entire race but some wear swimsuits and shorts.  You probably already own enough gear to make it through your first race.  There are lots of pieces of optional gear that can make your race day experience more enjoyable but they are certainly not required.

For more information on the sport of triathlon please join Coach Todd Lawless at Fleet Feet on August 21st @ 6:00 PM for “The Nuts and Bolts: Introduction to the Sport of Triathlon Clinic”.  If you have specific questions about a discipline or triathlons in general please send them to

See you on the trails!

Connect With Us

see the latest from Fleet Feet Annapolis