Tri This – Running Your First Triathlon

Triathalon start

For the first of out three-part series designed to help you do it, we spoke to Walter DeNino, a former elite triathlete and the founder of


Swimming across a half mile of water is probably going to be your weakest of the three disciplines. To improve your skills, DeNino suggests joining a master’s swim class at your gym or local pool to raise your confidence and fine-tune your technique.

“Have someone videotape your swimming form and analyze it,” he says. “Seeing yourself swim is crucial to improvement.” Train in a pool, but be sure to schedule a few swims in open water, ideally the same water the triathlon will be held, so you can gauge currents, glare, and especially water temperature.

On race day, wear a wetsuit, which helps with warmth and buoyancy. “Get a good warm-up in before the race,” says DeNino. “And try to relax as much as possible.”


Aerobic Training:
Warm-up: 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard with a kick board, 100-yard freestyle with a buoy between your legs, just using your arms.

Drill: 3 sets of 50-yard freestyle, with your hands balled into fists, three sets of 50-yard freestyle, dragging your finger tips on the stroke.

Main swim: 2 sets of 200-yard freestyle, 4 sets of 100-yard freestyle, 6 sets of 50-yard freestyle.

Cooldown: 200-yard easy alternate freestyle/backstroke. Complete two to three times a week, after a long run or hard bike ride to let the legs recover.


Strength Training:
Swimmer’s need strong lats, triceps, and shoulder muscles. You should also focus on building small muscles, like the rotator cuff group that might be stressed by your stroke. Try the lying external rotation after your workout. Lie on your side with your arm facing the ceiling, bent 90 degrees at the elbow. Hold a dumbbell in that hand and rotate your forearm so that your knuckles point to the ceiling, then back down to the fl oor (about 180 degrees). Do 2 sets of 8-12 reps, rest 60 seconds in between.

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