You don’t need a lot of time, expertise or expensive gear to get started in Triathlons, just a bit of consistency and focus on getting the basics right and enjoy it!

What Is A Triathlon

Triathlon is a modern and exciting endurance sport. Individual athletes complete a swimming segment, followed by a cycling and a running segment, with the clock running from the beginning of the swim through each transition to the end of the run. The two transitions are the points in the race when competitors change from swimming to cycling, and from cycling to running. The event can also be completed by a relay team (a great way to get started!).

Who Can Do A Triathlon

Anyone can do a triathlon and it’s for all abilities and ages. If you’re in search of fitness, health and wellbeing, looking for a rewarding challenge, what to learn multiple sports disciplines or be part of a community then Triathlon is for you.

Cant’ swim? Don’t worry, try a relay, Duathlon or reach out to one of our swim coaches to learn. The club can support you along your journey.

Don’t know what kit you need for training or racing, check out our kit list.

Race Distances

TriathlonSwimBikeRunMinimum Age Required

Note: All ages noted refer to the age of the child on 31st December of the race year.
These age restrictions apply whether you compete as an individual or as part of a relay team.

DuathlonRunBikeRunMinimum Age Required

Note: All ages noted refer to the age of the child on 31st December of the race year.
These age restrictions apply whether you compete as an individual or as part of a relay team.

AquathlonRunSwimRunMinimum Age Required
Standard (cold waters)1km5km18
Long (cold waters)2km10km18

Join A Club

You don’t need to join a club to get into the world of triathlons but it can give you that supporting foundation where you learn from those who have gone before and can support you on your journey.

Find out about our club and become a member here.

Choosing Your First Race

It is good to pick a race and set yourself a target to aim for. Be positive and pick an upcoming race. You can then adjust your training to work backwards from that. There are over 170 different races on the Triathlon Ireland calendar, in all corners of the country but might be best to pick one in area familiar to yourself/local so you don’t have the added stress and you have support of others with you.

Consider doing a relay where you do your strongest segment. Choose a race that the club has targeted as a club event so a lot of your fellow members will be there to support you.

Booking A Race

The calendar of races within Ireland are listed on the Triathlon Ireland Race Calendar. To secure your entry in a race you need to choose to book when the option becomes available for that race. You need to be licenced to race in a TI sanctioned race so can either purchase a One Day Licence at the time of booking the race or you pay for full membership of Triathlon Ireland. For some races you are taken to the organisers own booking system.

Iron man races (half and full) can be found and booked through the ironman website. Some of these races are within Ireland, UK, Europe and International.

Get Training

First of all think about your short term goals. Don’t worry too much about the rest of the year, just getting started is the important thing.

Don’t train randomly, stick to a structured plan, otherwise you won’t see an improvement or other distractions may interfere with training. Listen to your body, ease off if you feel tired all the time even after a rest week, if injured, or generally lacking motivation.

If all of the training seem easy and your performance is not improving, you may need to create a more challenging training plan.

Here are some general steps to help you think about how you should approach getting a programme started. No one programme fits all, customise the programme to work for your lifestyle, ability, goals and health. Seek expert advice or discuss with fellow triathlon club members (but bear in mind their goals and fitness levels will be different to yours).

Structuring A Programme

Step 1: Set training volume

Decide how many hours a week you can train. Be realistic, for example start with a training volume that you are currently doing even if this is only 3 training sessions a week.

Schedule a recovery week every third week or every fourth week, depending upon your recovery time, over 40s should consider a recovery week every 3rd week.

Training intensity should build up towards a performance goal or a race and a plan should be spread out over a good period of time e.g. 12 weeks. Intensity should be increased every 2 to 3 weeks; taper back for the recovery week; then build up a little more for the next 2 to 3 weeks before the next recovery week, etc. Training volume should not increase by more than 10% each week and this applies across each type of your training e.g. swim, cycle, run. Nutrition and rest (including sleep) should match the increase in training.

Step 2: Plan the number of training sessions

How many training sessions and how many in each sport? Less frequent, longer sessions may be more suited to those who have recently trained for and completed a triathlon or who are training for a long endurance event, e.g Olympic distance or beyond.
More frequent, shorter sessions may suit those who are new to triathlon in general or for a sport which there is a weakness, e.g. a novice swimmer may not be able to manage more than a 20-30 minute training session.

How many training sessions for each sport? Split the weekly training sessions into even amounts, e.g. if you have time for 6 training sessions each week, allow 2 training sessions for each sport. If there is not enough hours to do this, the greatest amount of sessions should be given to the weakest sport, e.g. if you only have 4 training sessions and swimming is the weakest sport the training allocation should be: 1 cycle, 1 run, 2 swims.

Step 3: Training duration

Long workouts cause physiological changes in the body which allow it to adapt to build up endurance. Short sessions allow the body to recover and can also be a full session in for those new to the sport. A training plan should consist of both types of sessions. As a broad description a short swim or run session would be under 30-40 minutes, a short bike session would be 60-90 minutes.
The longest session should be on a bike. The swim and run will make up the shorter sessions (and the weakest sport will make up the shortest of these sessions if time is a limiting factor).

Step 4: Deciding session intensity and variety

Pool swim or open water training? Hill interval training or a tempo run? Long hilly bike ride or a focus on pedalling/cadence?

Try to get at least 3 bike/run “brick” (going straight from bike to run) sessions before a race. Include a brick session in your standard training even if no race is coming up. Focus on your base endurance level first before adding intensity to your training.

Once intensity training starts, a maximum of 20% of the time spent in any one sport should be high intensity sessions.
Recovery or easy sessions should be done SLOWLY, preferable using a heart rate monitor as it can sometimes be difficult to gauge how slow to go.

Step 5: Print or write out your Training Plan

Spread out training sessions and rest days. Space out training sessions for different sports. Spread out the hard/long training sessions throughout the week, with rest days or short training in between.

Tech Tip!

There are apps available online which allow you to calculate exact mileage before a bike or run, e.g. Distances (apple store); Strava, Map my run. Build up a library of short and long courses and choose according to your training plan. There are also online tools to track your training activity such as Training Peaks but these typically are subscription based so need to ensure you get the most out of them.

Strength & Conditioning

Having great cardio and fast feet is fantastic, but your body needs to be strong to get through the longer distances. You only need a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to begin with, and the rest you can do with bodyweight. You can find great sessions on YouTube. Consider Pilates/Yoga for your core and flexibility work.

Rest & Recovery

Adaptations occurs during recovery following a training session so it is important to build recovery time into your schedule otherwise you wont bank much and load on the stress to your body. Sleep is king, don’t compromise that for more training time..


It’s very important to keep hydrated, both in training and during the race. Drink adequate amount of fluids before and during your workouts. Fuelling becomes important, particularly as you increase your training volume and intensity and take on longer distances. Equally a review of your food intake may be beneficial to ensure you are taking in the required nutrients/energy to meet your training and every day life demands.

Useful Resources

Sources for this page: Information provided on this page is an aggregation of what is in the public domain and input from experienced triathletes. Particular acknowledgement to Galway Tri Club who have available excellent information on its website



Purple Patch Podcast | Podcast on Spotify

Simon Ward, The High Performance Human Triathlon Podcast | Podcast on Spotify


Fast-Track Triathlete: Balancing a Big Life with Big Performance in Long-Course Triathlon: Matt Dixon Msc: 9781937715748: Books