Can't Swim, Can't Bike, Can't Run but i'll Tri anyway!

Beginner triathlon, New to triathlon, Swim bike run, Triathlon -

Can't Swim, Can't Bike, Can't Run but i'll Tri anyway!

We’ve put together a series of blogs to help anyone looking to get into triathlon but unsure or nervous about taking the first step.

The first thing we want to say is: You can complete a triathlon regardless of your sporting background so do not let anyone (including yourself) tell you different!

Triathletes are not some superhuman athletes made in a lab they are regular people with regular jobs and most of whom started with the same apprehensions as you currently have.  While there is no doubt there’s some incredible talent in the sport and the ones you see on tv like the Brownlee brothers can swim, bike and run at ridiculous speeds, the reality is the 99% of us use Triathlon as a hobby and something we fell in love with for its unique challenges and welcoming community.

Brownlee Gomez Triathlon

I have lost count of the people I have spoken to over the years who were afraid to give triathlon a go because they had the vision that they would turn up to an event and everyone would look like the Brownlee brothers and they would feel out of place.  The first thing you will notice when you go to events is just how diverse our sport is.  At every event you will see all ages and abilities challenging themselves with a swim, bike and run with one common goal - getting to the finish lineStart of a Triathlon .

So, if you are interested in taking the first step into our incredible sport, these blogs are for you.

Start where you are with what you have!

Getting started in Triathlon

Everybody thinks you need to have a certain level of fitness to get started in triathlon.  Waiting to hit a perceived level of fitness will usually result in never getting on the start line as you will always want to be a little bit fitter and will keep moving the goal posts on yourself.

It does not matter if you can’t currently swim, you’re not very confident on a bike or even if you struggle trying to run a bath you can still become a triathlete.  The key is getting started and learning how to swim, working on your confidence on the bike and progressing your running so that you can cover the distance and needing to walk some of it is fine.

Everyone must start somewhere and the only thing you need to do is your best.





How many hours will I need to train?

This is a question we often get asked when starting in triathlon.  We will usually answer this with a question; How many hours have you actually got?

Trying to fit triathlon in around your life can seem quite difficult but the reality is you need to be realistic with the number of hours you realistically have available to allocate to training.  With 168 hours available every week how we use them is key.

Create a table with all the things you spend time doing and tally them up and take the total number away from the total of hours / week available (168). The number you are left at the end is how much time you have available (see below example).  Although, in reality this is likely more than you will have as some tasks will take longer or other tasks will take up your time.  Its better to be honest with yourself and have less hours available but have the same availability even when your work or home life is exceptionally busy.   

total / week
Total Hours available
Family time
Preparing food / eating
(double if training for ironman)
Hours left


A common mistake we see athletes making is not being honest with the hours they truly have available and end up either not being able to stay consistent.  With some weeks weeks where they are full of energy and want to do 15 hours then have weeks where they are busy with work and end up doing nothing and then get frustrated that they did not train so try to reduce their other life activities to squeeze more training in. 

This rarely ends well as you try to cram in more training hours and other things (usually sleep) starts to be reduced which in the long-term lead to injury, illness or your family getting annoyed every time you head out the door for training. You want them to support your training and racing goals, so they need to be included in your plans and finding a workable compromise and help motivate you to reach your goals.

If you are intending to train for something like an Ironman this becomes even more important as it will require long training days and you need to be realistic if it can be worked into your life successfully although this blog is more about just getting started in the sport so we would not recommend going straight into an Ironman.

There is not a minimum number of hours you need to do per se.  Ideally spreading the training based on your strengths and weaknesses but if you can do 2 sessions in each sport per week this is a good place to start.

Although, if you have a background in one of the sports you can allocate more time to the ones you are less proficient in. A simple layout might look something like the below.
















What you do on each of those days will depend on your background and current fitness.  Try not to over complicate it.  If you are new to the sport just getting to the pool and swimming, getting on the bike and riding easy, and running a couple of times per week is enough to progress.

Build slowly and consistently!

Take your time to improve your fitness and do not get caught up on all the jargon like FTP numbers or even heart rate and pace.  Just focus on trying to progress a little bit every day and enjoy improving your fitness but always listen to your body as it will tell you when it needs rest. 

In training, you will learn more from mistakes so do not be afraid of making them.  (I know from experience as I have made most of them at one point or another!) Too many people are afraid making mistakes and can stop you from even trying.  You will make mistakes, you will have set backs and failures but each of them are valuable lessons.


Be willing to fail but do not be content with failure.  Dust yourself off and come back tomorrow ready to Tri again.

The next blog we will go a bit deeper into the specifics of how to improve each of the disciplines

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