Starting with triathlon? tips and tricks by Ilse!

Starting with triathlon is not just something. Where do you start? What do you need? And is it even feasible when you are not experienced in one or all of the three disciplines? In this blog you can read the answers to those questions and some tips by Ilse, who started triathlon in 2015 and has already done a lot of competitions.


  • Name: Ilse van de Wijgert
  • Age: 24 
  • Started triathlon: 2015
  • Most difficult discipline: swimming 

When did you start with triathlon?

"I am a member of the Maastricht Student Triathlon Association since 2015. I did not have a swimming or cycling experience yet and with my background as a runner I started very inexperienced with triathlon. In spring 2016, I did my first swim-run, after which my first triathlon followed in Enschede during a team triathlon. This was a sprint distance and I did this together with my teammates, so we could help each other. Shortly thereafter I did a triathlon for the first time with open water swimming, an Olympic distance. I was always afraid of swimming in open water, imagine 1500 meters, but I did it and I crossed the finish line with tears of happiness that I made it."

What is the most difficult thing about triathlon? What is the most fun?

"The most difficult thing in my opinion is swimming. In the first year that I did triathlon, I came from zero. I literally could not sustain one lap of crawling. A year later, I swam 1500m in the open water. With such a huge progress, this tasted like more. However, from that moment on it has been a matter of 'fine-tuning', and becoming faster.

What can also be difficult for triathlon, is making time for all three sports. With a full-time study or job, sometimes you just cannot manage to complete your training. However, if you are training for your first triathlon, it is mainly about finishing. For this you do not have to do all three sports several times a week. Focus on your weakest part, the other parts will be fine if you maintain them once a week.

The best thing about triathlon is overcoming your insecurities, and sometimes, fears. I have really learned to step out of my comfort zone, and learned to trust on my own abilities. In addition, the passion and enthusiasm of your fellow triathletes can work so motivating, which stimulates you to get the best out of yourself. "

What makes participating in a competition fun?

"For me it's a victory every time I've 'survived' the swimming part. It is still my weakest point and I am still not very comfortable in the open water. However, the proud feeling afterwards makes me sign up over and over for a new race. After the swimming part, I can overtake some people on my bike and while I am running and that is where I really get into the flow of the race.

Participating in a competition is so much fun, because you come together with all your fellow triathlon fanatics, who actually cannot talk about anything else all day than about the training they have done. Everyone has worked hard for it and there is a sympathy for each other, although it can go very rough during the race. The race on the bike in here, is a very nice tactical part. "

Is it easy to participate in a competition?

"Yes! You only need a license. You can obtain this via the website of the Dutch Triathlon Association and there are different types; a day license, basic license or race license. Choose the one which suits you, but if you plan to join several triathlons in a year, it is mostly cheaper to buy an aspirant- or basic license!"

"If you have registered for a competition, it is only a matter of training and obtaining all the material. The latter can still be a threshold for people to start with triathlon. I always say; instead of spending several months backpacking in Asia, I started doing triathlon. You need a (basic) bicycle and, if you swim in the open water, a wetsuit is also nice. Collecting swimwear and accessories, a pair of running shoes and all bicycle accessories makes the costs quit high. However, I thought it was worth the investment. "

What do you think are special/interesting rules for a triathlon match?

"Most games have a non-stayer rule: you cannot ride within someone else’s wheel. You have to keep a distance of at least 15 meters from your predecessor, so that you will not benefit from his / her wind shield. If you want to catch someone on the bike, this has to happen within a certain time, otherwise you will get a time penalty. This is often the most difficult rule in a match, where many penalties have already been handed out "

What are the advantages or disadvantages of training at an association?

"I train at an association. The biggest advantages are that you can learn a lot from the experienced triathletes, especially if you're new to the sport. Which material can you buy best? What do you need? How you can train best for a competition? You get it all from them! In addition, the swim sessions are often focused on technique, for where you get tips from an expert and you can therefore make big steps in improving. Moreover, training at a club gives you a grip; a kind of social pressure component is certainly included. But usually in a good sense, you get very motivated by the enthusiasm of fellow athletes. 

Possible disadvantages may be that you are quite overwhelmed when joining a club for the first time as a novice. What others can do, seems unfeasible for you. But, try to realize that everyone had to start somewhere. Try not to compare yourself with others. The first year that you do triathlon, you can make the biggest steps. It is certainly feasible to race your first triathlon after a few months of training! Furthermore, the 'social pressure' could become too much, making you to feel obligated to start training. And because of this, your own boundaries are about to be broken. Keep in mind that you are there and only you impose this obligation to yourself. Listen to your body! "

Like to read more blogs? 

Stay Tuned!


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