Training for your First Triathlon Step 4: Getting Started

Step 3 (read it here) covers the other equipment that can assist you with your racing and training. This post will look at actually getting started with your training.

The Nike slogan ‘Just Do It‘ really hits the nail on the head here. It is a matter of just getting out the door and getting stuck into your training, but what should you be doing?nike-just-do-it

An important aspect of getting started would be to discuss with a qualified and experienced coach about how best to train for the event. They will prepare a programme that will take you from your current level of fitness and capability and work with you to enhance it as you get ready for the event.

Often people have difficulty in the getting started part. Once they are out the door and going, there is no stopping them and the dread they may have felt prior to working out evaporates.

It will make the commitment real if you plan when you are going to workout the day before and assemble all the clothing and equipment you need.  When the time comes to do your training, you simply need to grab your gear, get out the door and go.

Some of the things you will need to get ready for your training session are:

  • Clothing (for either running or cycling) or togs and towel for swimming;
  • Drink bottle with water in it;
  • Essential equipment such as your bike (with air in the tyres) for a cycle workout or goggles for swimming;
  • Anything else you need to take with you to complete the workout, i.e. membership card for the swimming pool etc.

Having training partners can be a great motivator to get you out the door to do your training. Having a commitment to meet them at a certain time ready to go for a particular workout makes you both accountable. Your coach will also help keep you accountable, as you are paying them for their advice and guidance and you will want to make the most of that investment.

To summarise:

  • get a qualified and experienced coach to set your training for you;
  • get your gear ready and commit to a time to workout
  • workout with a training partner so you are accountable to both your coach and your training partner.


If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

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Friday Fartlek Run: Sausage Intervals

This session will develop your ability to run faster through increased tolerance to lactate acid and increased leg turnover. I first read about this session in John Hellemans book he wrote with Erin Baker Triathlon The Winning Edge (1988) Heinemann Reed. In the book it is listed as a cycling workout, but I have primarily used it for running. I remember Steve Gurney discussing it during a seminar he held in the early ’90’s about training where he referred to it as ‘sausage intervals’. Continue reading “Friday Fartlek Run: Sausage Intervals”

Training Intensity


How do you know what intensity you should be training at? At different training intensities your body will receive different training effects. What level is right for what?

There are a number of ways you can measure training intensity from very precise methods such as using power for cycling, pace training for running, heart rate (HR) training for either, or a subjective method such as utilising the Borg Scale. Continue reading “Training Intensity”

Training for your First Triathlon Step 3: What Other Equipment Will I Need?

Step 2 (read it here) covers the essential equipment and getting it sorted before you commence your training programme. This post will look at what other items will benefit you as you commence training for your first triathlon. You certainly can complete your first triathlon without anything mentioned in this post, but getting some of them as you work your way through the programme will make your training more pleasant, more successful and easier to do.

First up for females (males can jump straight to the next paragraph) is a good well fitting, quality sports bra. A good well fitting, quality sports bra will prevent ‘bounce’ which causes stretching of the Coopers Ligament. As there are no muscles in breast tissue, the Coopers Ligament is the only thing holding your breasts to your body. A good quality, well fitting sports bra can decrease bounce by 73%.

Good quality running socks. I personally swear by Thorlo socks because they keep my feet cushioned and, as they are a synthetic fibre, they wick moisture away from the foot thus minimising the risk of blisters. Occasionally I race in thin DryMax socks which have less cushioning than the Thorlos and although very lightweight are still very effective at wicking away the moisture. Both socks are expensive but no-one regrets buying quality.

Swimming goggles will protect your eyes by keeping water out of them.

I recommend two pairs:

  • a dark tint pair for days when you are swimming outdoors in bright light
  • a yellow/blue/pink lens pair for indoors or low light conditions as these colours enhance the amount of light coming into your eyes.

Specific open water goggles allow for 180 degree peripheral vision, giving you great perspective. Pool goggles have a narrower focus. Some goggles are specifically designed for females that take into account higher check bones and narrower nose bridges like the Blue Seventy Siren goggle.

Sun glasses are an important safety item whilst riding your bike. If you are riding at 20km/hr and a bug is flying at 20km/hr and it crashes into your eyeball that is a collision with your eyeball at 40km/hr!!! Regardless of how sunny the day is, sun glasses will prevent the bug colliding with your eyeball. I have three sorts: a yellow lens for low light days, a tinted lens for bright shiny days and a clear lens for when it is dark.
Queen – Bicycle Race

To misquote the lyrics of a Queen song “cycle shorts make the rocking world go round”.  Good quality cycle shorts include a chamois which helps pad, protect and prevent chaffing of your nether region. Most quality brands will have specific chamois for each gender. Qwik Kiwi have a range of New Zealand made cycle shorts for both women and men. If you are a member of either Team Qwik Kiwi or the Qwik Kiwi Tribe you can purchase them at cost price. Contact Coach Ray if you would like to take advantage of this.

Cycling gloves are also important for the safety of your hands. In the event of crashing you are likely to instinctively put your hands out and may lose some skin from your palms. This will create discomfort and issues in the days ahead whenever you try and grip something, whether it is the handle bar of your bike or the steering wheel of your car.

If you are on a budget consider which of these items is the highest priority (you might need to do some maintenance from Step 2 which should be a higher priority than items in this list). If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

Training for your First Triathlon Step 2: Getting Your Equipment Sorted

Make sure you read Step 1 here.

You don’t need much to get started for your first triathlon. At a bare minimum you need a bike, helmet and a pair of sneakers. Lets discuss these items in a bit more detail before we look at all the other items that can assist you.

Your bike needs to be functioning correctly. If it has been sitting around in a garden shed for a while, for your own safety it will be worth taking it to your local bike shop. At the very least get them to service the brakes (very important for your safety), maimgresintain the chain (otherwise it won’t work) and ensure the wheels rotate smoothly (you won’t go far if they don’t). Often for bikes sitting around unused you can expect the brake cables to be frayed and/or damaged and need replacing. The brake pads may be worn and also need replacing. Chains are often in poor condition and need replacement or some serious love. Often the rubber on the tyres degrades.  New tyres and tubes will prevent you from getting flat tyres.

Your helmet is your life line.  It will only do its job if it isn’t damaged. My life has been saved many times by a quality helmet. I’ve ridden off a cliff at 80km/hr when I was going too fast to take a corner in a race. I don’t remember the ride in the rescue helicopter but apparently I went head first into a tree then rag dolled it down the cliff. I would not have walked out of hospital that afternoon if it wasn’t for the helmet absorbing the impact of the crash and saving my life. Make sure yours is in good condition and if you do crash with it, get it replaced. If you are unsure what sort of state it is in, take it into your local bike shop and get them to look at it and advise you. The bike shop I recommend in Blenheim is Cycle World.  In Nelson I recommend Village Cycles. Both are owned by good guys who have knowledgeable workshop staff that are active in all forms of cycling.

Sneakers are an important aspect of your journey to your first triathlon. They will protect your feet. As you start off you will be fine in whatever shoes you have, but as you build up the amount of walking and/or running you do I would recommend getting a good quality pair of shoes. Finding a suitable pair of shoes for your foot type is important. Each major brand has a range of shoes that cater for neutral feet or feet that need stability/support or motion control. Getting in the right shoes is important to make sure that you avoid injury. The best way to know for sure that you get in the right pair of shoes is to go to a store with knowledgeable staff. In my experience the discount running shoe stoimgres-1res often employ staff that don’t know much about shoes, bio-mechanics or running. To find quality staff you need to go to a technical running store. Staff at Shoe Clinic are trained to a high standard.

Well that is the big three sorted. In a future post I’ll cover the more minor equipment that will make your life enjoyable whilst you train and prepare for your first triathlon .

What you need to do now is get your bike and helmet, get them checked out and sorted so you are ready to start training properly.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

Run Workouts for Qwik Kiwi Tribe Programmes

Welcome to the Qwik Kiwi tribe for you respective event.

Here is where you will find descriptions of the run workouts you will find within your training programme.

Run – Easy

This session is conducted at an easy Level I-II intensity and is typically 30 minutes long (or shorter). Keep the pace nice and steady. This session provides a a number of benefit: It helps develop the efficiency of the heart and lungs; and, It doesn’t require as much recovery as some of the other runs in your training schedule. Finish with ten minutes of stretching muscles that are sore or tired.

Run – Steady

This session has similar benefits as the Easy Run above, but is longer in duration. It is done at Level II intensity consistently through out the session. As it is longer and you don’t spend time at the lower Level I intensity that you can in the Easy Run you develop more efficiency of the heart and lungs, but you also build up more fatigue. Finish with ten minutes of stretching muscles that are sore or tired.

Run – 5km Time Trial (TT)

This session provides us with feedback and data as to where your fitness currently is. Over the period of a programme we might do this a few times and compare your time against previous results. Physiologically this session will develop your ability to buffer lactic acid and handle a faster pace and greater effort.

This session should be done on a flat course and you will need to measure your 5km route before you run it the first time. To ensure that you are comparing apples with apples, make sure you use the exact same course each time you do the TT. I recommend an ‘out and back’ course, where you run out 2.5km and then turn around and run 2.5km back.

Run Coach NZ
Here is a HR and Pace graph from a member of Team Qwik Kiwi. You can see how flat the HR and Pace is as they were really good at managing their effort and keeping it consistent through the session.
  • 10min WU Level II;
  • 3x 60sec Level IV, 30sec RI Level I;
  • 5km TT;
  • 10min CD Level I-II;
  • 10min Stretching

The session starts with a Warm Up (WU) of ten minutes at Level II. Then increase your effort for 60 seconds to Level IV to get the Heart Rate (HR) up. After the 60 seconds drop your pace down to Level I for a 30 second Rest Interval (RI).Make sure you keep jogging slowly during the Rest Interval. Repeat this a total of three times. Aim to finish this part of the workout near the start line of the pre-measured 5km course.

Run the 5km as fast as you practically can to get the best possible time. Wear a Heart Rate Monitor or GPS watch but try and avoid looking at it. Run by feel but record the data and load it up onto Training Peaks as soon as you can after the workout.

Once you’ve done your 5km, jog at Level I-II for ten minutes as a Cool Down (CD) prior to finishing with ten minutes of stretching.

Run – Long

Long Runs are done at Level II intensity. The long run develops the efficiency of the heart and lungs and ability to run despite being fatigued. As Arthur Lydiard used to say to his top runners when he sent them on a 22 mile long run “It’s not the first twenty miles that gets the results but the two miles that come after the first twenty that gets the results.” The same applies to you regardless of your level of fitness or running ability. Even if 45 minutes is a long run for you, you get the benefit of the last ten minutes that pushes you past your current capability.

Run Training NZ
Long Run with 4x ~100m Stride Outs towards the end of the workout.

During the programme your long runs will progressively get longer over the weeks. Once we’ve built up your fitness to do long runs that are longer than 75 minutes we will include some stride outs. Stride Outs are short, fast paced, smooth running with great technique. I typically get you to do four reps of ~100m towards the end of a long run, with 5 minutes of running at Level II between. For example if you were doing a 90 minute Long Run then you would do each your four ~100m stride outs at the 65 minute, 70 minute, 75 minute and 80 minute marks, leaving you ten minutes after the last Stride Out for a Cool Down.

As with ALL sessions finish with ten minutes stretching.

Run – Hill Reps

Hill Reps develop the strength and power of your leg muscles. This will pay dividends with the later training and also on event day.


  • 10min WU Level II;
  • 5x 4min Hill Reps Level IV, ~4min jog down;
  • 10min CD Level I-II;
  • 10min Stretching

Start with a Warm Up of ten minutes at Level II. Try and do this on flattish course that lead to the base of a hill. If it takes you a little longer than the ten minutes to get to the hill that is fine to extend the Warm Up.

Run up the hill at a Level IV intensity for the duration of the repetition (four minutes in the example above). Make a mental note of how far you got to in the time frame and then turn around and jog down the hill to recover. As soon as you get back to your start point turn around and run back up the hill at your Level IV intensity trying to get past the point where you got to in the previous rep. Repeat for as many times as is scheduled in your programme (five reps in the example above).

After the last rep, run home at Level I-II intensity to Cool Down prior to doing ten minutes of stretches.

Run – Threshold Intervals

Threshold Intervals are higher intensity intervals that prepare you for the faster running of the event and also develop your efficiency with less time training. Threshold Intervals will leave you tired and fatigued if we don’t build an aerobic base prior to including them into your programme.


Marathon Training NZ
4x 6min Threshold Intervals
  • 10min WU Level II;
  • 4x 6min Level IV, 2min Level I RI;
  • 10min CD Level I-II;
  • 10min Stretching

Start off by  running at Level II for ten minutes to Warm Up (WU). Increase your effort and pace to Level IV for the duration of the interval (in the example above it is six minutes), then have a Rest Interval (RI) at Level I (in the example above it is for two minute). Once you’ve done all the repetitions scheduled (four in the example above), commence your Cool Down (CD) at Level I-II for ten minutes. Finish with ten minutes of stretching.

Run – Long, Progressive

These runs develop your ability to push on and through a level of fatigue and simulate what you will experience with in the race.


  • 50min Level II;
  • 50min Level III;
  • 10min Level IV;
  • 10min CD Level I-II;
  • 10min Stretching

Start off with an extended period of running at Level II (in the example above it’s for 50 minutes), then increase your pace to Level III for a similar amount of time (in this case it’s also 50 minutes as well). Next up is the hardest part of the session and you increase your intensity to Level IV (in this case for ten minutes) prior to Cooling Down (CD) for ten minutes at Level I-II. Finish with ten minutes stretching.