My husband and I were out with some friends last night and we started talking about working out which led to talking about Crossfit, Tough Mudders, ½ marathons and eventually triathlons.

Two of my friends said that they really wanted to train for a sprint triathlon this year, but they didn’t have enough time to train, didn’t have an “expensive enough” bike, and were appalled at the idea of having to wear spandex.

If you can relate to my friends and you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and trying a triathlon in 2014, then you may be surprised to know that it’s not as hard, or as time consuming as you may think.

Here’s what I told them:

You can train for your first sprint or mini triathlon in as little as 3-4 hours a week.

When you think of a triathlon, what comes to your mind? For most people, it’s the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. And training for that 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run is like having a second full-time job. The good news is that there are a few other shorter distance triathlons that don’t take as much time to train for.

A sprint, or mini triathlon is composed of a 400-700 meter swim, 12-14 mile bike and a 2-3 mile run. The exact distances vary based on the race, but when I tell people that distance, they usually say, “oh, I could do that.” And it’s true… You, yes YOU, can do a triathlon!

triathlon swimming

If you’re already running or going to the gym a few times a week, then just swap out 2 of your workouts for a swim session, a spin class or a bike ride. You’ll want to concentrate a little extra time to whatever sport is your weakest, but basically you want to be able to swim for about 15 minutes straight, bike for about 1 hour and run for 25-35 minutes.

A typical training week may look something like this:

Training week

You don’t need an expensive bike.

Is your old bike collecting dust in your garage? Do you have a friend who will let you borrow their bike? Then you can do a triathlon. I’ve seen people do triathlons with road bikes and I’ve been passed by someone riding a beach cruiser.

triathlon bikes

When I signed up for my first triathlon, I didn’t have an old bike or a friend who would lend me their bike, so I bought a standard road bike from Wal-Mart. It was less than $100 and worked perfectly.

Once you’ve done your first triathlon and are sure you like biking, then you can invest in a nice bike, but you can totally do your first triathlon with the bike you already have.

You don’t have to wear spandex

triathlon numbersI had a huge spandex phobia when I did my first triathlon and I was so self-conscious that everyone would see my butt jiggle while I was running. I’ve since gotten over my dislike for spandex, but both my brother and my husband have done triathlons in board shorts and t-shirts.

You’ll want to stay away from extremely baggy clothes and from fabrics that don’t dry quickly, but you can do a triathlon wearing whatever is comfortable for you. Try to choose something that you can wear for the swim, bike and the run.

I like to swim in a sports bra and spandex, then I put my tank top on for the bike and the run. You could also put shorts on top of your spandex if you want. The less you have to change and put on, the better.

You don’t need a wetsuit

triathlon runningYes, the water may be cold and you may be grossed out by the plants and animals lurking under the water, but the swim is only 10% of your race. Depending on how fast you swim, you’re only in the water for 6-15 minutes and you’ll warm up pretty quickly once you start swimming. Plus, that’s just one less thing you have to take off!

However, if you really have you heart set on wearing a wetsuit, then you can rent one for a reasonable price. Just make sure you practice swimming in it at least once before your race so you know how it feels. Nothing is worse than swimming with a wetsuit that is too big or too small.

It is SO MUCH fun!

triathlon finishRunning for a triathlon is not only a great way to get in shape, but it’s also a lot of fun, especially if you train with your friends! A triathlon is also a challenging race and you can’t beat the feeling of accomplishment you’ll get when you cross the finish line!

So, if you’ve been thinking about doing a triathlon, make 2014 your best year yet and take on the challenge! You’ll never know unless you “tri”!