Triathlons are a test of sporting endurance and strength. They require contestants to not only swim, cycle and run – but also to believe that they can do all three. It is the sporting equivalent of sitting down to enjoy a large breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the same sitting. Quickly. With a costume change mid-way through. Time Out speaks to Fitness First swim coach, USN ambassador, Commonwealth Games athlete and all round fitness enthusiast and triathlete Swaleh Balala to get his training tips for triathlons.
“If you are a beginner, don’t splash out on expensive equipment. You don’t want to be the person with all the gear and no idea. In the beginning your bike is going to be your biggest investment. Look at it as levels – the more triathlons and training that you do, the more equipment you should upgrade. Invest more in training than equipment”.
In the water
“To prepare for the first part of the triathlon get in the water at least four times a week. Slowly build up the distance you swim and make sure that you go up and beyond your competition distance. Because most races are done in the sea, I would advise you to slowly start having a once a week swim out in open water to familiarise yourself with it and not to take the sea swim for granted”.
On the bike
“Time on the saddle is the first step to building your fitness. If you’re only riding one day a week for an hour, make that twice a week for the next couple of weeks and work up to three times a week then you can make your individual rides longer. Also, ride faster and harder for short periods of time. One of the easiest ways to do this is head to the hills to add in some intervals. Go hard for two minutes and the recover for two minutes and repeat five times as part of your regime.
For your run
“When you first start running, the trick is to be consistent enough to build strength and endurance, but slow enough that you don’t get injured. So, do all of your training at an easy pace. Get into a rhythm that feels like you could maintain it for ever. A lot of runners try to run too fast, because they feel like they’re not a runner unless they go at super speed pace. Your pace needs to be comfortable. If you run faster than you should, it’s going to hurt all the time and you’ll never get to a point where you can do it for 30 minutes. Develop the endurance; speed will come later”.
Balala’s golden training tip
“Discipline and consistency are key. No matter how hard it gets, just keep going. Trust me, your body will adapt and you will love it!”
Read more of Balala’s triathlon tips at timeoutabudhabi.com.