Try a triathlon!

A short, obsessive attention span means I jump between activities (on a regular basis).

This has left me with a passion for many things and enough kit to fit in a small mansion. For a long time I was a keen runner but when a knee injury started to develop I quickly lost interest, particularly when the doctor informed me: “Well, there’s nothing technically wrong but if you continue to run constantly, you will wear out your knee within 15 years….” Hmmmmmmm…. no knee? No brainer…. no thanks!

He  then suggested I tried cycling, that’s right, more kit! Thanks doc!! As soon as I purchased my shiny new road bike, I had one thing on my mind – triathlon! I could already run pretty fast, biking sounded easy and swimming, well….. this is just the short bit at the start, right?

Staff member MAtt Hickman during his first ever Triathlon

Triathlon, sounds a bit scary though, quite technical? For the elite? Obviously it’s for the elite……so, after research this is what I discovered:

•You needed to be extremely fit and well disciplined

•Continuous training required across all three disciplines; on the bike, running and swimming

•You need the most expensive equipment, surely my newly purchased £400 road bike just wouldn’t do?

In reality though, none of the above are true. General fitness and a little bit of training will get you through. Like all things the more committed you are the greater the improvements, the multi discipline sport provides a varied race that has something for everyone. Nearly everyone has a stronger and weaker discipline, for me this was the swim (or at least I thought it was), just remember that most people will be in the same boat!

Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and once you get into the sport, it’s easy to understand why. The varied training and race disciplines mean that there is plenty to keep you occupied.

I found training and the thought of the race slightly daunting at first but if you are interested contact your local tri-club, there will be plenty! Before my first tri, I completed a try a tri day with VO2 max racing, a really great introduction to the event. The day provided information on the rules and regulations, transition training, swim practice and an overview of what to expect on the day, all for free with the triathlon race sign up.

My first tri was the Ashington triathlon in the north-east (England). The practice day really helped, the rules are fairly straight forward but as there are multiple sections to the race it’s a good idea to get to grips with each section before the day. The sprint tri consisted of:

• 400m pool swim (quite hot indoors)
• 20km bike (nice ride with a killer hill, twice)
• 5km run (sore calves from a lack of specific training)

Staff member MAtt Hickman during his first ever Triathlon

After a faster than expected swim, I was then fairly steady on the bike however, surprisingly a slow run followed – a lack of brick training (training at two disciplines in one go, for example; a ride followed immediately by a run) left the calf muscles struggling. I think overall the day was just a great experience, it amazed me the friendliness of the atmosphere. No elitism present and many people happy to see a first timer getting in to the sport plus a real mix of ages and abilities took part.

There are plenty of triathlons across the county, in my local area during the tri season there is now practically one every weekend. If you are thinking about it, then stop thinking and take the plunge. With increasing uptake in the sport more taster sessions and beginner events are springing up. I’d recommend the try a tri sessions if you can find one. Although I’m far from being a front runner, my transition times were up there with the best of them!


Staff member MAtt Hickman during his first ever Triathlon


Since my first triathlon I have gone on to do the Keswick Sprint Triathlon at the Mountain Festival and the Castle Challenge Triathlon at Bamburgh Castle, two absolutely stunning locations that must be up there as the most picturesque events in the country.


Staff member MAtt Hickman during his first ever Triathlon


The winter is almost here so the break is perfect for some light training that could put you in good shape for the start of the next season.

Enjoy. Matt

Check out these Links if your interested in giving a Triathlon a go!

Triathlonengland (Home of England triathlons)
Vo2maxracingevents (Organiser of great north east race)

Castlestriathlon (Excellent beach triathlon in a stunning location)
Keswickmountainfestival (Mountain Festival with sporting activities)