Basic Triathlon Advice

The following is some basic junior triathlon advice.


The swim distances are detailed below.

Age Category Approx Distance
Tristar Start (8yrs) 50m
Tristar 1 (9/10yrs) 150m
Tristar 2 (11/12yrs) 200m
Tristar 3 (13/14yrs) 300m
Youth (15/16yrs) 400m

It is best for children to gain a good grounding in swimming at a local swimming club, swimming is a sport that takes time to develop proficiency in and a competitive club environment is the best place to learn this.  The only triathlon specific training is for “open water” races in lakes.  Here the best local resource is Reading Lakes run by T20.

Open water swimming can be cold, and unless the temperature is above 17oC wetsuits are advised.  Most people competing though will not have expensive triathlon wetsuits and will compete in the cheaper surfing style wetsuits.  Although these will be fine when starting they are much harder to swim in, as they do not support the body in the correct orientation, and can be restrictive on the arms.  In addition, chaffing can be a major problem, you can use special triathlon lubricants, but baby oil and KY jelly work well (Vaseline should be avoided as it can harm the neoprene).Another trick to keep the head warm is to wear 2 swimming caps.


Cycling distances are as follows

Age Category Approx Distance
Tristar Start (8yrs) 800m to 1.5km
Tristar 1 (9/10yrs) 2 to 4km
Tristar 2 (11/12yrs) 4 to 6 km
Tristar 3 (13/14yrs) 6 to 8km
Youth (15/16yrs) 10km

You can compete on any bike; the better athletes will use a road bike, even in a field.  However, for your first few events this is completely unnecessary.  As the racing will often not be on a road environment it is good to practice riding in a park environment, practicing doing laps.  Children don’t intuitively get the idea of gears particularly the front chain rings so practice chaining gears and experimenting with different ratios is good training.  British cycling recommends that for junior racers they are encouraged to use easy gears and spin the legs fast.


Age Category Distance
Tristar Start (8yrs) 500 to 600m
Tristar 1 (9/10yrs) 1500m
Tristar 2 (11/12yrs) 2000m
Tristar 3 (13/14yrs) 3000m
Youth (15/16yrs) 5000m

With children it is important that they do not try to run too far in one go as this will tend to blunt their natural leg speed.  It is better to break session up into shorter faster efforts than long steady runs.


This is the 4th disciple in Triathlon, and it helps to practice this as lot of time can be lost.  You can set out a small towel with your trainers on it, practice putting on your vest or t-shirt, putting on your trainers and putting on and taking off your cycle helmet.  Use talc in your shoes and on the towel to help get the shoes on.

What do I wear?

The best approach is often to swim in what you will cycle and run in (apart from your shoes). You could use a “tri suit” or you could pull on a pair of shorts after the swim. It’s quite hard to put on clothes when you are wet from the swim so try to avoid this if you can. The club has some small Trisuits to purchase.

The best thing to have in your trainers is elastic laces; these can be bought from Wild Sports.  However, some children find the elastic suitable for adults too strong; I have found that elastic from a haberdasher can be suitable with a pair of cord locks.