FAQ’s about the Sprint Triathalon

Why you should try a Tri

Thank you for all your excitement and congratulations on yesterdays post

I’m so excited that so many of you have considered doing a sprint triathlon! I know you will love it. It is simply the best feeling when you cross the finish line and know that you have trained hard for it. 

I can’t tell you enough how naturally “non-atheltic” I am–so I am convinced that if I can do this, so can you!

I’m planning on doing at least one next year, and I hope-if you are on the fence-you decide to do one too! 


Here are a few questions that I grabbed from the comments of yesterdays’ post that may answer some questions you may have as well!

TP asked, “How much did all the gear cost you? It seems most races are at least $60. Any advice on what gear is essential, and what you could have skipped? Thanks! And congrats again.”

The tri-outfit was a little expensive but we were able to buy ours at about 60-70% off since the store was going out of business. I would say ,though, that if cost was an issue, you could buy spandex/tight running shorts and a fitted workout top (not cotton) and that would suffice. I didn’t end up using a swim cap, but it’s only $8.00. So you can kind of make it as cheap or expensive as you want!

It’s important to wear really tight clothes since you swim first and don’t want to deal with loose clothes for the bike and run.

BeckyJ asked, “Did you follow a C25k type program for swimming to build up your 

endurance? I’d love to know more about how you did your swim training.”

I have never heard of the C25k program. For swimming practice, I just did laps. Once my husband taught me how to swim/breathe (it was too hard for me to take 3 strokes and breathe on the 3rd stroke, so I breathe every other stroke), I just swam laps at a slow pace to practice. I learned, the hard way, that if I start too strong right out of the gate, I’ll be exhausted by my second lap. So, I would push off the wall at the start, glide for as long as I could and then begin taking strokes. 

I swam just about every saturday with my husband, which turned out to be about 6-8 days, and would occasionally swim by myself during the week. The week before the tri, I swam twice, and finished with the best swim of my life. I felt good about my breathing and had practiced swimming slow and steady. 

Elizabeth asked,”I am interested in doing a sprint tri sometime in the near future, it’s always been a dream of mine. After reading about your experience I am super excited!! Do you have any advice on training for the biking section? That is the part that scares me the most!”

I wish I would have better prepared for the biking. I wasn’t very nervous about it, so I spent most of my time on swimming and running. I biked the full 12.5 miles on a stationary bike at the gym so I’m glad I got to see how long it would take to complete (about 45 minutes). I should have biked outside more. Just like running on the treadmill is completely different than running outside, biking outdoors is much more challenging than indoors. Plus, I did not anticipate the hills on the course. I wish I would have done more strength training on my legs and practiced pacing myself on the bike.

The bike portion was the hardest for me. It was the most physically tolling, and mentally draining. When you are swimming with a bunch of people around you, it’s motivating to stay strong. Same with running. When I was biking on the side of the road with few people in sight, I began to shut down a little bit and not push it as hard as I could have. It took about 4 miles (I think) into the bike ride to feel strong and get my breathing in check.

Anonymous asked, “Wow what an accomplishment! I can’t believe you started from nothing. How did you change your diet? I know you started meal planning. Can you give some examples on a blog? How fast did you start to get your heart rate going when you had never worked out previously?”

Thanks! Well, I ended up losing 7 lbs during these past few months of training. I didn’t make drastic changes to my diet other than eating a healthy breakfast every morning and cutting down on portions. For the past 5 months I have had 3 egg whites, 2-3 pieces of turkey bacon, natural apple sauce and coffee w/ sugar free creamer for breakfast everyday. EVERYday. I love that I have developed this habit and it has helped keep me from overeating at lunch due to crazy hunger.

I don’t drink pop, I don’t eat junk food, but I do love dessert. So I tried to cut down on sweets but wouldn’t let it ruin my life. I still had ice cream occasionally–and sometimes it would be a skinny cow ice cream sandwich, or just a smaller portion. My husband and I also had fresh fruit smoothies (w/ no extra sugar added) for desserts instead of ice cream/brownies/etc.  

We cut out a lot of pizza (we both love pizza) and focused on chicken. We used whole wheat pasta. Avoided cream sauces. Barely ate out. But, keep in mind, we weren’t overly strict. We would occasionally go out to eat and just make wise choices.

And I really found that since I knew I was working out regularly and working toward a health goal, I didn’t want to put junk in my body to ruin it.

As far as my heart rate goes, I didn’t pay attention to that as much as I did my labored breathing. I could tell I was stronger and had better cardio health based on how much, or how little, I struggled breathing. It took a long time (I would say 4-5 weeks) to feel like I could breathe consistently and steadily during a run. As far as biking goes, it wasn’t hard to breathe. That was just easier for me to do. And breathing during swimming was tough. But once you practice enough, you get the hang of it. I can’t express enough how I was not a swimmer. But I ended up enjoying those work outs the most. It’s not as painful as a run can be, and your heart rate goes through the roof right away.

LK asked, “Congratulations! For the swim, do you have to dive in? Or can you just jump in or climb in? I have never been able to dive.”

I, too, cannot dive. Nor would I want to. For this tri, there was a line of about 15-20 people on the side of the last lane on the right. People in this line would feed into the start of the swim, and for your first lap, you would swim down the other side of this lane. So, I probably spent 4-5 minutes just standing in the pool, slowly making my way toward the start as people kept going. I would have hated diving in, or jumping in, so this made for a smooth start.

I don’t know if this is always how they do it, but it was a beginner triathlon so I can only assume other sprint tri’s would do this as well!

Laura asked, “So, you answered this a bit in the comments, but I saw your fb post that you are answering questions tomorrow, so I had a few: 1. What clothing pieces do you need to invest it? And, what are you wearing each leg of the race? 2. I am HORRIBLE at swimming. What swimming techniques did your husband teach you? Any advice on how to be better at it? 3. What would you do to practice the bike portion? Indoors, outdoors, hills? Thank you!”

I’m glad I had my triathlon outfit, but I could have done it in spandex shorts and a tight work out top, as long as it wasn’t cotton. There were plenty of men and women there in fitted workout clothes and not “official” tri outfits.

For each leg of the race you are wearing the same thing. The reason you want to wear spandex to begin is because you swim in that, and after the swim you jump out, run to your bike, towel off for 10 seconds and then start your bike. So you don’t want to deal with changing or a loose, wet cotton shirt. I brought a long sleeve top to wear over my tri outfit due to the chilly temperatures, but I didn’t have to wear that. My husband wore just his tri outfit for the whole race.

Check this video for a quick swim lesson:

I hope this has provided some answers for you! Sign up for a Tri! You can do it! 

(e-mail me if you do and I’ll try to create an “encouragement” e-mail list or something where we can all share successful work outs and encouragement!)


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Katie says · 10.18.12

This is great! So inspiring…now I’ve been hunting down a sprint tri that I can do next summer. Another question for you: what kind of bike did you use? I know for certain that a “real” road bike would be out of my budget right now.

Kate says · 10.18.12

I used my husbands old hybrid (mountain/road) bike. It worked fine for this sprint tri, but if we continue doing these we may both get road bikes. SO, don’t feel like you need to buy a road bike for a sprint, you can definitely do it on whatever you have–it just may be slightly easier on a road bike!

Kait says · 10.18.12

You are seriously inspiring, Kate. I love reading your blog and this post was no different! Thanks for sharing!


Casey Beavers says · 10.18.12

Thanks for all the help Kate! I definitely want to participate in a tri now!

Jessica Snavely says · 10.18.12

Thanks for answering these questions. My husband is a cyclist but that has always scared me (not a fan of having your feet clipped to the petals!) – I think a sprint tri would be much more managable. I watched the swim video that you linked here and it really made it sounds less complicated than I thought! I feel inspired to start taking better care of my body – thank you!

still being [molly] says · 10.18.12

this is awesome, kate!!! i am totally motivated now – i have had a tri on my bucket list for years and my boss does them ALL the time! thanks for the inspiration and for answering the questions! YOU ROCK!

Megan says · 10.18.12

What an encouraging story! I have always been super intimidated by the thought of a triathlon but the “sprint” one I think I could handle (with training, of course). I started swimming a few months ago and absolutely love it. It’s the running and biking that I’d struggle with I think… You’ve inspired me to look up sprint tri’s in GA though! June 2013 may be a possibility!

irene says · 10.18.12

So awesome! I just ran a half marathon with my husband (not exactly with, b/c he is super speedy but we trained together), and for me the best part really was doing it together. There is something so special about working towards a goal with your spouse! We are both going to focus on getting faster and try for a speedy 5K early next year. I’m so impressed you did a tri- the messiness of the transitions and being wet the whole time makes me think I’d hate it, but never say never!

Mel says · 10.18.12

Congratulations Kate on completing your first sprint triathlon! That’s great! I did one last year for the first time, and I couldn’t find my bike among the hundreds of bikes lined up. SO, one more piece of advice for those interested in a sprint…take a balloon or something to tie at the end of the row where your bike is stationed. It will make it much easier to find after exiting the swim! And most importantly…HAVE FUN! (So glad I found your blog, Kate!)

Holly Lund says · 10.18.12

You are so inspiring! I just might have to give one a try.

Christy says · 10.18.12

So inspiring! Question for you. What do you typically eat for lunch. I love to see what other people eat when they are trying to eat healthy. I get really bored with what I eat so I’m always looking for something different.

Angie R says · 10.18.12

You are an amazing woman. Kind of like my own vision of a wonder woman. Reading your blog has given me so much inspiration. Since starting to follow your blog and seeing how effortlessly you do your makeup, hair etc… and now even triathalon I have started to be a little more adventurous, and I am really enjoying it! Thanks for being such a great example of confidence and character!

Alison L. says · 10.18.12

Congrats! If you want to do another short sprint in Raleigh, the Finley YMCA off Six Forks and Lead Mine sponsors a women only race called Ramblin’ Rose. I believe it is in May. I’m going to give it a shot (my husband did a full ironman in July and inspired me). The race courses are posted online already so part of your training can be on the actual bike and run courses! I would be happy to get you more info if you want it.

Rachel Weir says · 10.18.12

I’ve done about 10 tri’s in my triathlon career. If you are just doing one for the first time there is no need to go buy the clothes. You will see people wearing all kinds of things. My advice is wear a swim suit with a sports bra and put clothes over it in T1. Second of all for the bike part, You should ABSOLUTELY get a road bike! No fat tires like the blogger had. They are way slower, and you end up working way to hard. Road bikes have skinny tires and are designed to go much faster. Try looking at garage sales. My husband bought one for $20 after I finally convinced him to do a race with me. The best way to get better on the bike is to ride with someone. And time yourself. I drive the bike routes I ride so I know how far they are.

For the people concerned about wardrobe, get good biking shorts. That is a must!!! You do not want to have your running shorts flapping in the breeze while you’re on the bike. You want to be aerodynamic! You can swim in most bike shorts, and they’ll dry quickly. I wouldn’t invest in a swim cap, you typically get them in your race bag because they want everyone to have the same color (mostly in open water swims).

For Transition, i suggest bringing a bucket. You can carry all your stuff in it and then sit on it while you’re putting your shoes on. Very helpful. Also, do NOT forget a small towel to wipe feet off after the swim. Forgetting that can ruin a race!!!

I wanted to share my info with you. I hope this helps, coming from someone who does these races as a hobby. I truly love it!!!

Nancy Stroble says · 10.18.12

Thank you for including the swim video. I have loved the water all my life; but, it has been a while since I needed to use a proper stroke. I’ve belonged to a gym for a year and a half now and have not been there one time. I joined this gym because they have a pool. You have inspired me to get to the gym and swim. I may never to a tri; but my overall health needs a boost!! Thanks for telling us about your tri!!

Huri says · 10.19.12

I am so excited to read that you did your first Tri sprint. I did my first tri sprint this last May. It was AWESOME!!!!! Then I did another one in July. I have to share with you that my first one I used a mountain bike. SO much more work. I finally got a road bike and it was like night and day. They can be A LOT and I mean A LOT of money but if you can find one that is used then it is so very worth it. I can’t wait to do it again next summer. I am not an athletic person either. You should try “The Dirty Dash”. I Did that for the first time last month. So much fun! Go with a group and stick together. I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work!

Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy says · 10.19.12

Congratulations! That’s such a big accomplishment!

Me says · 10.23.12

Congratulations! By the way, it is “triathlon”.

Cher says · 10.31.12

I did my first sprint triathalon this summer. I was most worried about the swimming, so that was the part I trained for the most. It was such an AWESOME feeling crossing the finish line (which was up-hill…what’s up with that???). Definitely doing one again next year! Congrats to you!

Lindsey D says · 11.07.12

Hello! Love your blog. Congrats on your first tri!! I started doing sprint tris about 3 years ago, increased the distance over time, and just completed my first half ironman race in September in Augusta, GA. So amazing. I couldn’t swim, bike, or run when I started 3 years ago either. I have fallen in love with this sport and all the amazing people. From my perspective, this type of training leaves me with less time for hair/makeup as I am often getting ready in a hurry after a 5am workout or a lunchtime swim. Maybe you could feature some “I am rushing back to work from a lunchtime swim” hair and makeup tips sometime – something to pull it together when short on time. Anyway, congrats again on your race!

Melody says · 01.12.13

Congratulations on a job well done!! and Thanks for the inspiration, I am seriously looking into this thanks to you!!

Jess Anderson says · 04.23.13

This is so awesome! My husband and I have a beginner triathlon training website, http://twotri.com where we offer an awesome beginner Sprint training program! We’re always so inspired by reading people’s first triathlon stories! Way to go! And I LOVE your quote, It’s the worst I’ve ever looked and the best I’ve ever felt… 😉 Can’t wait to read about your next race!

Gail Forcewind says · 10.06.13

Really a good job. Awesome triathlon. sports wear like triathlon shorts and wetsuit play an important role here. Thanks for the nice post.