The Beginners Guide to Triathlon

This is the Sport 2020 Social 1

Congratulations and welcome to the triathlon community - triathlon isn’t a sport like any other, it’s a lifestyle!

Soon you will think nothing of squeezing in a 6am pre-work swim and a lunchtime run, and your new friends will be right there with you.

But before you get to that point, what should you do next?

Cork Tri Club_Group Pic


Joining your local triathlon club is the first important step on your triathlon journey. There are now over 100 clubs around the country so there is bound to be one that trains in an area near you. Being part of a club is great fun, great motivation, and a great way to meet others living in your community who have similar interests. You will find people to train with outside of organised club sessions, and there are few things better than a coffee and cake bike ride with a group of friends!

Most clubs will run a New to Tri programme during the winter and spring year so if you are new to the sport this is a great introduction, many programmes even have a goal-race or a pool-based training event at the end – perfect practice for your first real triathlon.


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It’s true, there is plenty of equipment that you could buy to take part in triathlon, but there is also plenty of time for that later! To start, it is important to focus on the basics, and to keep it simple for yourself (and your wallet!).


Swimming 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.


Basic bike – mountain, hybrid or racer. Helmet, you will not be allowed to race without one.




Trisuit - makes transitions from swim to bike easier and is more comfortable to race in.



The amount of training you need to do will vary depending on a number of factors, for example how fit you currently are, and the distance of the triathlon you have entered. The date of your triathlon will also factor in your training plan. The most important thing is to get advice from a more experienced triathlete or coach. Your club will be an invaluable resource in this regard.

If you're going it solo, or even if you're in a club but are looking to get more structure on your training, you can get a free training plan designed by Triathlon Ireland's national head coach Michael Black.

Simply head to our page on Training Peaks and click on the training plan at the bottom of the page. You will either be prompted to log in or create a free training peaks athlete account. The plan is completely free of charge and is designed to take you from beginner to full-on triathlete in a number of weeks! 

Also, as a Triathlon Ireland Licence Holder, you receive 20% off Triathlon Ireland’s Official Training Software, Training Peaks. You will find the discount code by logging in to your Member’s Area on


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Don’t Be a One Hit Wonder

Finishing your first triathlon can be a powerful experience but placing it as the goal to your winter and spring training can leave you without a goal afterwards. Plus, most people find that once they’ve got one triathlon under their belt, they are bitten hard by the bug!

Don’t be a one hit wonder – you’re almost certain to have unfinished business with triathlon after your first race – there will be things you will want to do better, times (and people!) you will want to beat and races you will want to experience. It’s best to plan your follow up before you take on your first race – this way you won’t be left without an entry to race number two (or three) – most events on the triathlon Ireland calendar sell out well before the summer.


BMW Triathlon National Series 2020

Finish the Series

Even for a first year triathlete, finishing the BMW Triathlon National Series is a very attainable and incredibly fulfilling goal. The series consists of 18 of the biggest and best triathlons in Ireland this summer – but you only need to complete four of these to get on the final series table.

Participants must complete one sprint distance, one standard distance and two other races of their choice and at the end of the season trophies are presented to each bronze, silver and gold medallist in each individual age group (which means women aged 20-24 are competing against other women aged 20-24 etc).

Races are held right around the country at beaches, lakes and rivers and many races have a great night out afterwards - competing for points throughout the season makes for a great summer of weekend triathlon road trips!

TriTeam Ireland - Lausanne ITU Grand Final 2019


We know it’s just year one and you might only be getting to grips with the sport, but racing for Ireland is a very attainable goal for many newcomers. In triathlon, amateurs get to represent their country at European and World championship events. It’s called International Age Group racing and every year dozens, sometimes hundreds of people head around the world as part of TriTeamIreland!

Qualification for the 2021 world and European champs takes place over the course of this season so if you’d like to wear the green tri-suit and take on the world next year, now is the time to start planning.

Qualification is easier than you might anticipate and usually involves finishing the top five of your Age Group at a national championship or in the BMW Triathlon National Series – full details of how you can race for TriTeamIreland are on the age group section.