Four swim sessions for beginner triathletes
(Credit: Jonny Gawler)
Training > Beginners

Can anyone take part in triathlons? What if I'm not very fit?

Yes, anyone can take part in a triathlon, says Mel Berry. There are distances for everyone and it doesn't matter how fit you are, male or female, young or old, fit or unfit - as long as you're able to swim, cycle and shuffle. Here she shares this advice...

Anyone who’s not done a triathlon always says to me 'gosh you must be really fit!' But to be honest when I first started triathlon I was far from it, but I just wanted to give it a go. It’s true that anyone can do a triathlon and there are shorter distance races which are perfect for your first race. British Triathlon also run Go Tri, the perfect introduction to triathlon for nervous newbies


What are the different triathlon distances?

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8 lessons I learnt from my first triathlon


Whatever distance race you are doing try to be able to complete the distances of each discipline separately, then you will have no trouble on race day. Build the distance up gradually and you can even break the run down into run/walk segments. For example start with 1 min run, 1 min walk and then build up the time running and reduce the time walking. 

How to start running

Swimming is the one discipline that puts most people off doing a triathlon. It’s worth investing in a bit of help initially, so try some swimming lessons at your local pool to get you feeling more comfortable, but you don’t need to be able to do front crawl. Breaststroke is perfectly fine to do in a race. If you're nervous about open water don't be, as you can start with a pool triathlon, where it's controlled and you can pace yourself easily and even have a rest.

Breaststroke technique for triathletes

How to start open-water swimming if you're nervous, and build your confidence


Clubs are a great way to get involved with the sport and to give you some support.  Don’t feel you need to be fast to join a club, far from it, there will be plenty of people there who have been in the same situation as you. Have a look on to see which clubs are in your area. If that is too daunting how about training with a friend? You can support each other and it gives great motivation to get out there and give it a go. 

Free 8 week supersprint triathlon training plan

Triathlons for beginners: why you should take part

Sprint & super-sprint triathlons: 14 of the UK's best for beginners


Mel Berry is a level 2 triathlon coach and founder of Her Spirit a personalised coaching app for women that encourages women to take on new challenges, living life to the full and achieving more than they ever thought possible.  


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