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I’ve Signed Up For My First Triathlon…Now What?

A quote about ironman triathlon.

If you’re registered for or just thinking about attempting a triathlon, you’re already familiar with the swim, bike, run format. But for most new triathletes, the question becomes, “How do I train for this?” followed quickly by, “What takes precedent in training?” In this three part series blog we will provide you with some basics of where to start your training plan for each of the 4 elements of tri training….including strength training. For each of these segments we will focus on training with INTENT. Today we’re starting with the Bike.


Bike Smart


Bike Smart

On your first triathlon, do not be concerned about the type of bike that you have; any bike will do. Cycling is one of those things that most of us learned how to do when we were kids and it’s something that should come back fairly easily. However, cycling in a triathlon takes endurance, skill, and focus. If this is your strong leg, you will use this segment of the race both to recover from the swim and to gain your competitive advantage. Remember, you still have to run after this.




Cycling: So much more expensive than therapy


If you’re a cycling or bike racing newbie, think about the following as you train:

· Learn bike safety – This includes how to fix a flat, put your chain back on, rules of the road, how to signal, etc.

· Ride in a group – There are drafting rules for different triathlons, so learning how to ride in a pack, stay to the right side of the road, and when to let someone pass are important skills that cannot be practiced alone. You can also learn a lot about bike handling from watching/riding with other riders. This article from the Triathlon Coaches at Carmichael Training Systems gives some other good advice about learning the rules of triathlon; especially those pertaining to the bike portion.

· Get to know your gears – There are so many because, depending on the race, you may need more than the one you generally ride around town in. See how different gears allow you to go up and down hills, make breaks to pass, and where you feel like your most consistent cadence lies.

· Consider your accessories – If you don’t yet have them, cycling shorts can be a life saver for any ride. Additionally, you need to determine if you’re using clipless pedals or cages or going without. What kind of shoes are you riding in, are you doing any training on an indoor bike or trainer, and how will your food and hydration system will be set up? Not to mention helmet safety and the ever intimidating aero bars. Remember what we said first….ANY BIKE WILL DO at first, but as you continue to train and prepare, you need to make sure you’re set for your best race.

· Fit the bike to your body – If you’re finding yourself sore after each ride, even the short ones, make sure that the bike set up is correct. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT components of your training because improper bike fit can lead to so many injuries!

Get the Right Fit with Dr. Brandon


So, where do I go to get my bike adjusted? HERE AT CTG! Dr. Brandon has you covered. You should get your bike maintenanced once a year, and your bike fit is no different. You can now schedule appointments to ensure that your bike is ready to go for training/racing and that you’re a good match.

Enjoy the Ride


Not sure where to get started with your rides? Consider trying one of the workouts below programmed by Dr. Brandon. The first is a Threshold workout meant to help build your aerobic capacity while training through some anaerobic intervals. This workout uses Zone Training. Not sure what your zones are? Check out this graphic to get an idea:

Enjoy the Ride


15 minute warm up

4 x (10-minutes zone 4 + 5 minutes zone 2)

10 minute warm down

Our second workout uses FTP or Functional Threshold Power. Learn more about this training concept and how to measure it in this article by Coach Molly Hurford in Bicycling. FTP is a great way to tell if you’re ACTUALLY getting faster.

Over Unders (Lactate Threshold)

10 minute warm up

4 x (2-minutes 105% FTP + 2-minutes 95% FTP)

5 minutes 80% FTP

Repeat above x 2

10 minute warm down

Pedal Power


As we’ve noted in past blogs, a solid strength training plan is essential to help improve all your endurance training.

For the bike that means:

Dynamic stability

Single leg patterns

Hip flexor strength

Hip extension strength

Hip/ core control

Mid back strength

Try incorporating some of the exercises below from Dr. Brandon, or sign-up for our Run Strong Group to help improve your endurance training performance!


Exercises to Improve Cycling







Run Strong is a periodized program developed weekly to supplement your endurance training and ultimately change your approach to achieving higher levels of performance within running, triathlon and cycling training. This 2 day/week program will include exercises to develop strength, power, speed and hypertrophy at the appropriate time of the year to optimize performance. Prehab, injury reduction, and corrective exercises/ drills are a large emphasis to keep you training and at the highest level.


Favorite RidesOUR Favorite Rides

A man in a blue shirt smiling in front of a brick wall.

Dr. Ryan Godfrey

PT, DPT, Owner of Change the Game Performance

We help athletes get back to training pain free, injury free without taking time off.


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