Getting Started in Triathlon

Ballybay 2018

For newcomers to triathlon, the sport can seem quite complex - lots of equipment and its own vocabulary! From bikes to brick sessions, here is a quick guide to our sport and how to get started. 

What is triathlon?

A triathlon is a race in which the participants swim, bike and run. The timer begins from the start of the swim and ends once you cross the finish line after the run section, including two transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. 

The distances can vary depending on what you are looking for from your challenge, as in the table below:


There really is a distance to suit everybody, the try-a-tri distance is a great way to try your first event to see if you like it and how it feels changing from sport to sport during the race. Visit our Race Calendar for a list of events taking place nationwide.

Trigether Run 2018

where to start

There are over 90 triathlon clubs around the country meaning that there is a local club in most areas. Triathlon clubs are a great way to train with other people starting their triathlon journey, and make new friends within your community! Most clubs will have organised training sessions in swimming, cycling and running each week and at this time of year will also have a 'New to Tri' programme for beginners. This means that beginners can train in a group together and get to know other members of the club.

There is often a 'Try-a-Tri' event at the end of a 'New to Tri' programme that the training plan will be aimed at, taking the planning out of doing your first triathlon. Having a tri club plan means that you can be confident you have done the right amount of training for your first event.

You can find a list of clubs here

TriAthy Bike 2019

What you need

Three sports, you must need loads of equipment, right? To start out, you do not need a vast array of equipment. Once the triathlon bug has bitten you can then choose to upgrade bikes and invest in GPS bike computers, watches and all of the gadgets that triathletes enjoy using. But, to begin training and racing, it is easy to keep it simple. 

SwimSwimming togs, goggles, hat, wetsuit (it is compulsory to wear a wetsuit in all open sea swims). If you are taking part in a pool based triathlon as your first race, you will not need a wetsuit.
CycleBasic bike – mountain, hybrid or racer. Helmet, you will not be allowed to race without one.
OtherTrisuit - makes transitions from swim to bike easier and is more comfortable to race in.

The lingo

It seems that there is a whole new set of vocabulary to contend with when you start out in triathlon. What is a brick session, a TT bike, cleats?!

Another advantage of being part of a triathlon club is that much of the lingo will be explained to you and, if in doubt, you can always ask! Again, this is not something to be concerned about as a beginner triathlete.

For the record:

  • A brick session means training for more than one discipline in one session. For example, completing a cycle and then going for a run;
  • A TT (Time Trial) bike is an aerodynamic road bike used in non-draft legal racing;
  • Cleats are the clips that go on the bottom of cycling shoes to clip you into your pedals.

TriAthy 2018 Finish

What next

To train with a club, you must have a Triathlon Ireland membership and be a member of the club. For details on all the membership types and FAQs, click here.

Membership Type

Club Member

Non-Club Member

Race Licence



U23 Race Licence



Joint TI Race Licence & SI Special Membership



U23 Joint TI Race Licence & SI Special Membership



Training Licence



Junior Licence



Youth Licence



Kid's Licence



The triathlon community is one that is great fun to be a part of. Get in touch with your local club, they will be delighted to hear from you! 

If you have any questions in relation to joining up or are unsure as to where your local club is, you can contact us on