Another newbie. Is this for me?


I'm mulling over the idea of a Triathlon, I'd really like your ideas on this.

I'm a 39 yr old Mum of two (8 & 6), and pretty unfit at the moment. Over the last couple of years I've run a few 5 and 10k's but I've got bored lately, motivation has dropped off a cliff. I miss feeling fit and alert. I've just bought a mountain bike in an effort to reclaim some level of fitness but I need a goal.

I love swimming but I haven't raced since I was at school. I love cycling but I'm just starting back, and although not as quick as I'd like to be I can do a 5K quite comfortably, not so keen on 10K's.

My super-fit bro-in-law tells me I need to sign up to do something in about 4 months, set myself a goal and train for it. Thing is, I really have no idea if I would be laughed out of a club for even considering it or whether the training involved would be too big a commitment.

I'd be really grateful for your feed back.


  • Give it a go and find out. I've never belonged to a tri club, but everyone I've heard from says they are very friendly and welcoming to newcomers of all abilities.

    It's pretty much the end of the season for tri's now - you can get very cold on the bike after a swim in the winter. So you have plenty of time to get ready for a tri next spring. There are loads of sprint distances & many specifically called things like "Try-a-tri" which are really beginner friendly. You could start looking now, and book one in for then. There are duathlons over the winter - run, bike, run.

    Generally the average standard at tri's is probably higher than normal road running, just because people tend to take tri a bit more seriously, but by no means everyone is a speed machine.

    I'd just start mixing some biking, running and swimming in to your training and see how you get on.

    Shame you bought a mountain bike as a road bike will be significantly faster and if you do get the bug you'll want to upgrade later. However, many start out with their first few tris on a mountain bike. Probably best to swap the tyres for some slicker ones and make sure you pump them up well hard.

    Enjoy! I'm sure someone will be along in a moment to tell you to to enter an Ironman. The training for that is a big time commitment, but to get round a sprint tri is no more really than training for a 10k.

  • Good answer EC.
    Sounds like you have the right building blocks, shortandsweet. Get some steady training in across all three bits and look forward to a pool-based sprint in spring image.

  • Do it do it do it do it do it - you get the idea!
  • I am 44, overweight mother of 2, and have done 2 sprint tris this year and loved them. OK, I am slow, a bit rubbish at all 3 aspects, but it really doesn't matter, all I have had is encouragement and fun. I have joined a tri club where I am learning front crawl, and they are great.

    Do it.

    oh, and when you tell people you do triathlons they think you are amazing!!

  • LOL, I read 8 ft 6!

  • I'm in the same boat short and sweet.

    I've bought a hybrid bike and been out for a few light runs and being swimming a few times. 

    My base fitness is appalling and i'm overweight so from now I'm just building that up and looking to do a sprint triathlon in my home town of Birmingham next July.

    I really got inspired by Victoria Pendleton and the rest of the Olympic team to get into triathlon as a sport. Always loved swimming and cycling when I was a kid. Endurance training and running will be the challenge for me.

    Something to aim for and i'm using the mocking tone of family and friends to spur me on!

    Good luck with your journey! 

  • Then read Andy Holgate's book From Common Man to IronMan - if you won't be able to resist making 'long' plans then!!

    P.S. I'm 43m overweight with 3 jobs, 2 special needs kids, one deaf dog, 4 chickens and  fish (do they count??) I too am slow but have made loads of progress with my running, which is where I started. I did my first tri in July, just did my second and have discovered a great way to mix up my running with extra challenges, demands and rewards!!! 

    Go for it ... image

  • LOL 

    I ordered that book from Amazon at the weekend for inspiration.

    Think a sprint tri might be the first step!

    I bet your dog can still hear the word biscuit!

  • Wow! Thank you everyone for the encouragement image

    I honestly thought I might be too old to start with Triathlon but I've been browsing the forum, with so many inspirational stories I'm looking at this now with fresh eyes.

    I've seen a couple of training plans to start out, I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine now the children go back to school this week. 

    I went out this afternoon on my new bike, and I'm a bit mad at myself for picking up a flat tyre along the way. I didn't see it until I was home. I bumped my way over some gravel and the bell came apart and flew off, I also got us stuck trying to navigate some mud in a dip on the track. But the kids and I had a great time out in the big outdoors and soaking up the wonderful September sunshine today. And the dog is knackered.

  • Not too old! I did my first sprint tri at age 42, and my first Ironman distance at 50.

  • You might be interested in trying duathlon as an intermediate step from running to tri - I did a duathlon as my first race aged 41 last autumn, and then worked on the swim over the winter. Having that race as a target gave me the incentive to get the bike training in, and started me on the idea of transitions and things. There's a fair few of those about in the autumn - I'd give a shout out to the one I did in the New Forest (Sandy Balls Triathlon - and no, don't ask, it is a place!) as they made a very nervous rookie welcome at his first competitive bike event.

  • Ooh Thank you for that Paperman.

    I don't need to ask, Sandy Balls has legendary status among the camping fraternity image I live in West Berkshire so Hampshire suits me very well. I do like your suggestion of doing a duathlon. Could I do that on a mountain bike? Having just bought the thing I'm skint now although I could put some slick tyres on it (lovin' all this new lingo). Then I guesss I don't need to worry about a Tri suit til next year, my running shorts and vest will do?


  • Shortandsweet

    As you've got a mountain bike you may be interested in these:

    I've just turned 50 and come from a running background (nothing longer than 10k though) and plan to do a couple of these over the winter along with some swimming lessons.  Hopefully, then a sprint triathlon early next season to 'test the water'.

    Good luck !

  • Many people were using mountain bikes for Sandy Balls last year, so should be no problem - slick tyres will improve your speed, certainly, as will pumping them up harder than usual. I did it in tri shorts to give my bum some relief from my road bike seat - if I'd been using my mountain bike I wouldn't have bothered. I just wore my standard running vest. The bike is mostly flat, but the run's got a few hills in it if they use the same route as last year. You do the same run beginning and end, which has advantages and disadvantages - the advantage is you know what to brace yourself for the second time round, and the disadvantage is that you remember how much the hill hurt!

  • Didnt start til I was 50
  • Dave - didn't realise that - Holgs didn't mention that bit in his book! (or, if he did, I missed it). I guess you're never too old...

  • Hello short and sweet.

    Your post made me smile, I was in a similar position a year ago. It is a great sport and challenge to fit around kids. Look into getting a turbo trainer for your bike. It really helped me train when the kids were in bed

  • Dave The Ex- Spartan wrote (see)
    Didnt start til I was 50

    What are your plans for your 60th? (obviously a long way off and just curiousimage)

  • Oooh they look like great fun. Only thing is, I seriously doubt I would be fit enough before the end of the year. I could do 5K now, maybe even stretch it out to 10k slowly, with a lot of huffing and puffing at the end, but I have yet to experience a situation where I stop running then restart.image

    I enquired at the local Triathlon club and they have a place for me. Also I decided to take a trip out to the pool after the kids were in bed last night. Heck! So much for my confidence. I realised, of course, that I haven't swam front crawl for a rather surprising number of years. Now I usually swim with my head up because I'm watching the kiddies. It was a joy to be back in the pool and swimming just for me but boy! do my shoulders ache today. I'm going to need to work on bilateral breathing too...puff...puff...

    Oooh and I notice entry fees are quite a bit more than running.

    So fun, fun, fun. I'm going to see what kind of time I can do 5K in tomorrow image

    Anyone else likely to be doing the Sandy Balls duathlon? I'm assuming you mean the Swashbuckler Duathlon, Paperman?

  • I hadn't noticed they moved it - same time as last year, same bunch and same distances, but different location (not that its that far away). I'm tempted, but the wife and I were looking at the Artermis Tri up near Hull, and I'm not sure we're going to be able to do both. Having said that, we don't have babysitter cover for Artemis yet, and we do have relatives near Bucklers Hard. Watch this space, I think, on that at the moment!

  • Dunno but think it will involve a beach nubile babes and lots of Guinness
  • Dave The Ex- Spartan wrote (see)
    Dunno but think it will involve a beach nubile babes and lots of Guinness

    I had to trawl back for the relevance.

    Sandy Balls Du has a great run course. If you like rock climbing image

  • Looks like they've moved it to Buckler's Hard this year - any idea what the run course is like there? It's got to be flatter.....hasn't it...?

  • My retirement and 60th birthday celebration !
  • Sorry Iron Muffin, I missed your post as we moved on to another page.

    I've since looked at turbo trainers and I can see how they would be useful. I couldn't have it inside though, our place is too small. However, I am totally skinty poos having not only bought myself a bike but the kids bikes too - one's husband didn't see the point of buying new bikes for them. 

    So all in all, this winter is going to be all about doing what I can without too much expense, just to make sure I like it. The Tri club is £25 at the moment for first timers, which can't be bad. I'm encouraged that some of you seem to be able to manage training around children, working part-time should help.

    Don't go sending me on runs with great big hills, I'll never come home. That said, I ran around Dorney Lake last that was boring.....seriously image

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