“Don’t go when they say go.” Situate yourself on the outside of the crowd and then wait 10 seconds before you dive in. On the outside with a delayed start, you will avoid the crowd and it will be easier to swim at your own pace. —Roger Antoniu, triathlete, Beginner’s Clinic instructor for TriMichiana events.
Accomplished triathlete Roger Antoniu ensures that all anyone considering training for a triathlon needs is a functional, safe bike; bike helmet; swimsuit and swim goggles; running shoes; motivation.
Roger is a long-time member of Triple Threat, one of Michiana’s triathlon training clubs, and Beginner’s Clinic instructor for each of TriMichiana’s featured triathlon events. It is spring in Michiana—perfect timing for Roger to share tips for a successful first (or almost first) sprint triathlon.
First and foremost Talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise.
THE RUN If you are starting from couch status, start with walking and ease into running. Run or run/walk at least twice a week.
Equipment tip Be sure to get fitted for a good pair of running shoes, Roger said. Look to stores that will fit your foot to a shoe (not the other way around.) Head to Fleet Feet Mishawaka; New Balance, Granger; Taylor’d Running in St. Joseph, MI or at Green Earth Multi-Sport in Winona Lake, IN where staff is trained to examine your running style and gait.
Race tip Incorporate at least a few ride-run “bricks” into your training. If the first time you transfer from the bike to the run is during the race, your legs will feel like anvils. Train by riding a distance, then get off the bike, change shoes and run to condition your legs to the transition.
THE RIDE Beginning your training indoors is fine while the weather is tough. Become a regular at a local spin class, or develop your own routine on an indoor bike. Ride twice a week.
Equipment tip Eventually, you’ll need to get outside. Find a functional, safe bike. “It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, but you do want it to fit you properly,” Roger said. Head to your local bike shop to ensure a good fit. Pedal clips and bike shoes are optional but great to have—just be sure your shoes are also well fitted.
Race tip You are going to swim, bike and run in the same outfit. Choose a cycling short, Tri-suit or swim suit you can wear in all three legs of the event. Keep your pedal rotations fairly high (80-90 RPMs.)
THE SWIM Yes, it can be tough to find a place to train. For indoor spring swimming, area Warsaw, Niles and South Bend YMCAs have pools, along with the Kroc Center in downtown South Bend and various health clubs including Beacon Health & Fitness (Granger and South Bend) and Renaissance Athletic Club in St. Joseph. If those are not convenient, dig a little deeper, suggests Roger. Many high schools with pools have open-to-the-public hours—it just takes a call.
When the water and air warm, you’ll want to get comfortable with open-water swims. Triple Threat and TriAvengers triathlon club out of the St. Joseph, MI area host weekly group swims that offer plenty of assistance for newer swimmers.
Equipment tip Suit and goggles are all you need, Roger ensures. The swim leg of sprint triathlons is generally about 200 yards, short enough that a plain ol’ Speedo will do.
Race tip “Don’t go when they say go,” Roger suggests. Situate yourself on the outside of the crowd and wait 10 seconds before you dive in. On the outside with a delayed start you will avoid the crowd and it will be easier to swim at your own pace.
It’s time to start training! Run twice a week, ride twice a week, swim twice a week. “Anyone who has been cleared by a doctor can do that,” Roger said. “You will get faster, and you don’t want to over-train at the risk of injury.”