How should you pick your very first (or next) race? There are so many great races these days it can be overwhelming to choose. Plus there are the factors, of race distance or timing which expand or limit the options further. Let’s look at some factors to consider below:
Distance– We all know the guy or gal who completed an IRONMAN for their first triathlon. It can definitely be done. But you’re likely to have a better experience if you complete some shorter races first! Practically, you can work out the kinks and improve quickly at things like transitions. Also, if bettering your performance is important to you, spend time improving at shorter races to best translate translate the gained speed to longer races in future years. Resist the peer pressure to go too long too soon and give yourself a few (years, preferably) to improve.
Timing – Make sure you will have enough time to train. A good timeline to train for a sprint is about 12 – 16 weeks. Could you complete one sooner? Sure, if you can swim, there’s a good chance you could finish one tomorrow, if forced. But the longer timeline you give yourself the more prepared you will be.
Camaraderie – Some may say it’s a bad idea to pick a race based on what your friends are doing. Assuming it’s an appropriate timeframe and distance, I disagree. It’s fun to have your friends cheering you on, and you will enjoy cheering them on as well! In our tri club, we have special target races. You know if you sign up for one you are guaranteed an after party. If you’re not part of a tri club, try putting out an informal poll on facebook (or ask whoever dragged you into the sport) about the popular races.
Picking Your Race
Now that you’ve considered distance, timing, and comraderie, it’s time to actually pick a race. There are tons of great sites that list out the major races. For a comprehensive national list check out Tri Find. If you’re local to Georgia, check out local races put on my Georgia Multisports, Tri the Parks, and TriColumbusGa.
Need help with your training? Check out our various programs to help you cross your first finish line including our All Access membership for local athletes which includes daily sessions with the Atlanta Tri Club. We also offer All Access + One on One, and Rookie 2 Race programs. These programs are available to both local and remote athletes.