Your First Triathlon – FAQ


What do I need to take part in a triathlon race?

For your first triathlon you do not need to invest in any specialist kit.  The essentials are

  • Swim suit / goggles (plus a wetsuit if your first race is in open water)
  • A road worthy bike / helmet
  • Shorts, socks, t-shirt and trainers

What is a ‘road worthy bike’?

One that is safe and works well.  For example the bike must have two wheels with inflated tyres which both have working brakes.  The ends of the handlebars must have covers (plugs) to prevent injury to others in the event of a crash. If you think your bike needs to be checked over, then the best thing to do is visit your local bike shop who can carry out a cycle check for a reasonable fee.

Where can I learn more about caring for my bike?

Most local bike shops are happy to talk you through the cycle check and some shops/colleges also have short bike maintenance courses you can attend where you can learn to fix tyres / lubricate your chain etc. There are also national initatives such as Dr Bike who can check your bike over for free.

Download the Dr Bike checklist (courtesy of


Why should I join a club?

Clubs are at the heart of triathlon in Scotland and well-organised, pro-active clubs provide a fantastic platform for members to make the most of the sport. They offer training support which allows you to help perfect your technique and most have qualified coaches. It is also a great place to meet likeminded people.

Where can I find a club?

A list of Triathlon Scotland affiliated clubs with contact details and web addresses can be found on our website here.

How much does it cost?

Club fees vary so it is best to contact your local club for more details.

Can anyone go along?

Check with the club you wish to join, as some are women only and some do not have a section for children.


Where can I find a list of events?

A list of Triathlon Scotland sanctioned events can be found here and there are events for all ages and abilities.

How can I sign up for an event and how much does it cost?

To sign up, just follow the links from our event search for the race you want to enter. Cost of races vary so it is best to check the race details with the organiser.

Do all level of abilities and fitness take part?

Yes, all levels of abilities and fitness take part, but please ensure you train properly for each event.

Membership of Triathlon Scotland

What are the advantages of joining Triathlon Scotland?

A membership with Triathlon Scotland provides a wide range of benefits and is a great way to show your love for triathlon. We also have special family packages and discounted deals for children and members of a Scottish triathlon club.

Full membership includes:

  • A Race Licence providing reduced event entry costs
  • Worldwide Personal Accident Insurance and Legal Advice
  • Eligibility to win Scottish Championship titles, race ranking points and prize money
  • Eligibility to qualify and represent Scotland and Great Britain
  • Discounts to help you buy your kit

How can I join?

You can join Triathlon Scotland online or by phoning 01786 466921

What are the different membership packages?

There are several membership categories available to suit your triathlon requirements. Prices can be found on our website.

How much does membership cost?

Memberships run for 12 months from the date that you join Triathlon Scotland.  Children’s memberships are £10, junior memberships £15 and adult memberships from £36 which is the equivalent of just £3 a month.

Training for a Triathlon Race

How do I get started?

The best advice is to join a triathlon club with UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) qualified coaches.  If there is no club near to you, then here are some hints and tips.  Remember before you start a new training programme it is advisable to consult your GP to make sure you are fit and healthy to train.

How much should I be training?

In a typical triathlon, the average participant spends about 20% of the total race duration swimming, 50% of the total race duration cycling, and about 30% of the total race duration running. Your training should therefore approximately match these distributions.

Each week, you should do roughly equal numbers of swim, bike and run workouts, but your bike training should be longer and your swims shorter.  Remember to also factor in rest time.

If you’re a typical out-of-shape adult who’s neither overweight, elderly, nor suffering from any debilitating medical conditions, as a general rule you’ll need about 12 weeks to prepare for a sprint triathlon (750m + 20km + 5km).

How can I get help with swimming?

Most people find swim training the hardest.  Learning proper swim stroke technique will really help you to progress.  If there is not a triathlon club near you then your local swimming pool should have swim coaches to assess you for a reasonable fee.

Where can I find a suitable training programme?

You can enlist the help of a 1-2-1 triathlon coach or a personal trainer.  They will write you a programme to follow and check your progress.

There are also a lot of training programmes on the internet if you search ‘beginner’s triathlon training programme’ and also some races will offer a training guide in the race entry notes.

Jargon Buster

Wetsuit = an all-in-one garment which is used in open water swimming. It keeps you warm and aids buoyancy.

Buoyancy = the dregree of extra flotation a wetsuit will give you.

Tri-suit = an all-in-one garment which you wear under your wetsuit. It has a padded chamois which makes cycling more comfortable.

Transition = the section of the race you will pass through after the swim and before the run. It is also where you rack your bike and leave essential race items such as your cycle helmet and shoes. It is usually referred to as T1 (swim – bike) and T2 (bike to run).

Racking = where you place your bike in transition.

Open water = triathlons always start in water, some inside swimming pools, others in open water which will take place in the sea, lochs, rivers, lakes, canals etc.

Drafting = the technique of tucking yourself behind another competitor or vehicle to save time / energy and therefore race faster.  Only elite triathletes in elite drafting races can draft.

Aero = getting into a tucked, aerodynamic position on the bike to make you go faster.  This is usually achieved by adding aero bars (or tri bars) to your handlebars.

Ironman = a brand which owns several long distance races across the world.

Our Partners

Triathlon Scotland is proud to work alongside the following partners and sponsors.

  • Equality in Sport
  • British Triathlon
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  • University of Stirling
  • Winning Students Scotland
  • Cashback for Communities
  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Legends S
  • ImacImages Photography
  • Yonda
  • MPH
  • Knockburn
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