Triathlon 101 & Training Guides

Swim Tips for your First Triathlon

9 Open Water Swimming Tips for Beginners

Cycling Tips

How to Run Properly for Beginners

Tips on How to Transition from the Swim to the Bike:

Tips on How to Transition from the Bike to the Run:


If you’re reading this, you’re tri-curious. Maybe you’ve been running a while, but are looking for some variety. Maybe you swam in school and miss the competition. Or maybe you love riding your bike for miles on end, but would like some company. Triathlon can do all of that for you, and while triathlons are still competitions, athletes (even the pros) are incredibly supportive, encouraging and motivating. Triathlons themselves are often weekend events, with a carnival-like atmosphere and family friendly fun.

For your fitness, triathlon training is terrific low-impact cross-training. It’s a great way to modify your training if the pounding of running is starting to bother your joints. By spreading your effort over three disciplines, you’ll minimize getting burned out, will improve flexibility and endurance, and will have found a sport that you’ll enjoy for a lifetime. What’s more, beginners can see huge improvements in their first couple of seasons, and that’s a big motivational boost! For your first few events, any bike will do, along with a few other items you probably already own, or can borrow. Newbury Park Bike Shop can help with all your bike rental needs! They offer 15% off on all products store-wide to Malibu Triathlon participants.
Newbury Park Bike Shop Pricing for One-Day Bike Rental: Early bird = $225 for reservations paid by August 12th, 2020. Regular price is $275 for reservations paid after August 12th, 2020.
ONE DAY RENTAL INFO = Pick up the bike at the Malibu Tri venue the day before your race (in the afternoon) and return it immediately following your race.


  • Bring an extra pair of goggles to the race, the pair you have been training with are being worn out and you don’t want them to snap race day and be left without goggles. It is always best to bring an extra brand new pair just in case.
  • Practice setting up your transition area. A messy transition area can cost you time. Practice setting up your transition area to ensure a smooth transition to and from the bike.
  • After you practice setting up your transition area, practice the transition itself. Practice getting your wetsuit off and getting into your bike gear and grabbing your bike. Then practice putting your bike gear away and getting into your run.
  • Incorporate brick workouts into your training sessions. After your swim, go for a bike ride, or after your bike ride, go for a run. Or swim, bike, and run in one training session, this will help you learn how you will feel during the triathlon.
  • Wear running shoes on the bike portion of the race, one less thing to do in your second transition. Also buy bungee laces so you do not have to tie your shoes, that minute spent tying your shoes could keep you off the podium.
  • Have two water bottles, one with just water, and one with Gatorade, or another drink with electrolytes. Leave the plain water at your transition area to rinse feet after the swim. And bring the water bottle with the electrolyte drink on the bike portion. You need the electrolytes, plain water will make you bloated, electrolytes will give you usable energy almost instantly


Triathlon involves a fair amount of logistics, planning and packing, but we do our best to make things as simple and smooth as possible.

Checking in/packet pick-up 
Before the race, you’ll need to pick up your race number, swim cap, stickers for your bike and helmet. You’ll be storing your bike (called racking) and gear in a central “transition” area.

You’re going to swim first 
You will start on the beach and head into the ocean once the horn goes off for your specific wave. Most people will be swimming freestyle (or crawl) stroke, but you’re allowed to swim any stroke you like. You’ll be following a course, swimming from one large buoy to the other until you finish back on the beach.

Transition to the bike (T1) 
After you finish the swim course, walk or jog to the transition area to get your bike. You’ll be barefoot, so watch your step! Change into your shoes, fasten on your helmet and walk your bike to the “bike out,” where you’ll be able to start riding after you pass the “mount line.”

Transition to the run (T2) 
You’ll be directed by volunteers to the “bike in,” and instructed when to dismount your bike and walk it back to your spot in the transition area. Ditch your helmet, change to your running shoes (if you used cycling shoes on the bike), fasten on your race number, and head out for the run!

The finish line 
Once you’ve crossed the finish line after the run, you’re done. Time to celebrate! After you’ve refueled and reveled in your awesomeness, you’ll need to head back to the transition area, pack up your gear, and retrieve your bike.


  • Do some open water swim practice. It’s very different from pool swimming, and new triathletes often have anxiety about the swim.
  • Practice transitions. Check out YouTube for tips and changing to each segment seamlessly. Time spent in transition counts as part of your total race time.
  • Practice going from bike to run. Running directly after cycling feels very strange.
  • Find a club or buddy. Triathlon is better with friends! Do some Googling to find a local club. LA Tri Club is awesome if you are from the LA area!
  • Read the athlete guide once it is posted closer to race date. Every race has one, and every race is different. It’s your responsibility to understand the schedule of events and rules.
  • Walk through swim out to transition, bike out, bike in to run. Before the race, make sure you know where you’ll be entering and exiting the transition area.


Aerobars: These special handlebars extend out from your bike and give you a place to rest your elbows. They offer a more aerodynamic, tucked position than can help you achieve faster bike times.

Age-grouper: Amateur athletes are called age-group athletes, competing with others in 5-year age and gender groups. Race age is determined by one’s age on Dec. 31 of the race year.

Bodymark: Race number on arm and age on calf with temporary tattoo or black marker.

Brick: Combination workouts that include two disciplines back to back with minimal or no interruption, such as a bike followed by a run.

Clydesdale/Athena: Race categories for men over 220 pounds and women over 165 pounds.

Cooldown: Physical activity done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid.

Cross-train: To engage in various sports or exercises especially for well-rounded health and muscular development.

DNS/DNF: Did Not Start and Did Not Finish.

Drafting: Swimming behind a slightly faster person can save your energy, and is allowed. But drafting on the bike course — where you closely follow another athlete to reduce wind resistance — is only allowed in draft-legal races. In non-drafting races, participants must keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between themselves and the cyclist in front of them. If you move into the drafting zone, a rectangular area surrounding each bicycle, you must pass within 15 seconds.

Mount line: You can’t get on your bike until you cross this line.

Multisport: A sport consisting of more than one discipline, including triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, off-road triathlon and winter triathlon.

PR/PB: Personal record and personal best. Good for you!

Racking your bike: Placing your bike in the transition area on provided racks.

Sighting: Follow the swim course by lifting your eyes out of the water every stroke or two to see where you are in relation to the course buoys.

Speed laces: Elastic/bungee laces for your running shoes to save time tying them.

Swim waves: Based on gender, age and/or speed, you’ll start the swim with a subset of people, with your own starting horn. This is to space out athletes on the course.

Timing chip: You’ll wear a chip, attached to an ankle strap, through the whole race to track your time.

Transition (T1 + T2): Areas where your bike and gear are stored throughout the race. You’ll have an assigned spot. After each leg of the race, athletes return to transition to swap equipment before heading back onto the race course.

Trisuit: These are shorts and a top, or a one-piece style, that you wear through the entire race.

TT bike/tri bike: Special road bikes made for triathlon racing, with flat handlebars and a set of aerobars.

Warm-up: To engage in activity before a race or workout. Warming up has a wide range of physiological and psychological benefits.

Wetsuit: A close-fitting suit made of rubber and worn by swimmers when they are in cold water to keep their bodies warm. Wetsuits also make you more buoyant and faster. If you are signed up for the Malibu Tri you will receive 60% off a wetsuit at XTERRA WETSUITS! Email us for the discount code at

Article by: My Time to Tri – Christine Frietchen

Check out training plans for each distance below!