1. Start with sprint events. A good one to enter is the ITU World Triathlon Series event in Cape Town on 26 April 2014. It’s a 500m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run.
2. Invest in a wet suit. Get yourself a good wetsuit and then join a group of open-water swimmers to take you out and show you the ropes.
3. Your bike is fine. Don’t spend too much money on a new bike yet! Any bike you’re currently riding will work just fine. It can be a road or mountain bike, just make sure that it fits you and is in good working order. It’s good to know how to change a flat tire for training and race day so practice, practice, practice!
4. Get your boost on. You need a good pair of running shoes. You will be spending a lot of time in them. Visit a sports store near you and let the experts help you find the right pair. They should ask you about your running history and they’ll watch how you walk and run in them.
5. It doesn’t take as much training as you think. You don’t need to be training 20 to 30 hours a week. You can be ready for a sprint-distance race on less than five hours a week. Join a coaching group to help you. It can also keep you motivated. Win-win.
6. Transition time counts too. It takes a lot of time to change from swimming to cycling and from cycling to running (known as transitions, “T1″ and “T2″), and these times are counted in your overall race time. Practice your transitions. Take only what you need! Buy elastic shoe laces. Nobody ties shoelaces in transition anymore, it slows you down.
7. Easy does it. Race at your comfortable pace and then take it down a notch. Saving yourself on the bike will help you into the run and then on to a strong finish. If you still have a lot left in your tank while on the run, then empty that tank with a good sprint effort on the last section of the run.
8. Real food is race food. It’s so important to have enough fuel to get you through what you need to do. The more natural your nutrition is, the better it works. For your first race, keep things simple. Once you get hooked on the sport, you can look into ways to get faster or go longer.