For many athletes, a triathlon is the pinnacle of competitive sports. Participating in this event is no easy feat, and while different variations exist, all triathlons involve multiple sports \u2014 the most common being a combination of running, swimming, and cycling.\nTriathlon training keeps you ready to take on the challenge, but it\u2019s important to do your homework in order to be as prepared as possible.\nIt\u2019s important to be as prepared as possible, but before you go out and spend thousands on gear, make sure triathlon is your sport:\nCardio Exercise for Triathlons\nThe three major triathlon events all involve cardiovascular exercise. It\u2019s best to stagger your workouts so that you\u2019re swimming, running, and cycling a few times each week. For each activity, try these tips:\nSwimming\n\n\nWork up to being able to easily swim approximately 2,000 meters\nFor some swim workouts, do intervals with timed paces and increasing speeds\n\nRunning\n\n\nFind a running plan that fits your current fitness, distance, and time goals.\u00a0If possible, schedule some of your practice runs on sections of the actual course\n\nCycling\n\n\nWork up to being able to easily ride 40K\nYou can also replace a bike ride with a cycling class to mix things up\n\nTriathlon Strength Training\nCardio exercise is only part of the battle \u2014 you also need to ensure that your muscles are strong. Strength training prepares your body for the specific movements you\u2019ll make when you swim, run, and cycle. Strength-training a few times a week is an important part of making sure you are ready to compete, and can also help you prevent injuries.\nCool Down Post-Training\nStretching and cooling down is key to any workout, and triathlon training is no exception. Try these moves after you exercise:\n\nRoll your calves on a foam roller\nRub the soles of your feet over a small ball (golf ball size)\nPractice upward and downward dog yoga poses\nStretch your hamstrings by gently pulling your raised leg to your chest while lying on your back (a resistance band can help with this)\nLie on your back and move your hips and upper body in opposite directions to stretch your lower back\n\nHere are some tips on preparing for the race beyond just being able to physically complete each portion:\n\nRest\u2014many new triathletes will focus on training for the swim, bike, and run while forgetting that a racing body needs rest. For the best performance and decreased likelihood of injury, don\u2019t skimp on your daily rest \u2014 this includes muscle rest (get off your feet) and mental rest.\nTransitions\u2014a triathlon is not just a swim, bike, run, but rather a choreographed race through the transition zones. Since your T1 (transition zone 1 time) and T2 are part of your race, you should practice them just like you swim, bike, and run in preparation. And, remember, it\u2019s more than just a gear change: Your muscles are also transitioning from one type of activity to another and they need practice.\nWeaknesses\u2014many new triathletes are stronger in one discipline than another and are tempted to maximize their strengths in workouts because it feels better. In a triple race like a triathlon, your strengths don\u2019t always make up for your weaknesses. If you are a great runner, work on your swimming. If you are a great swimmer, cover the miles or work on bike technique. Your strengths will kick in when times are hard, so maximize your weaknesses for your best race.\nMental training\u2014remember the race is really only 5 1\/2 inches long. Triathlon is a tough mental event, but if you have put in the physical training, the true triathlon often happens in the 5 1\/2 inches between your ears. It takes resilience, problem-solving, sheer grit, and sometimes even a motivating mantra to pull you through. Practice the mental game just like your physical training with visualization, finding a mantra that helps you dig deep and pull through.\nNutrition\u2014make sure you are optimizing your nutrition and learning what works best for your body.\n\n\nRace Day Nutrition Do\u2019s:\n\nIncorporate a carbohydrate-rich fueling plan the day of the race. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used in long endurance events.\nPractice your pre-competition and during-competition fueling plans. Use the same plan the day of competition that you\u2019ve used during training.\nUse similar timing during training and on race day with your meals, snacks and, hydration\nDeliver a consistent carbohydrate fueling throughout the competition.\n\n\n\nRace Day Nutrition Don\u2019ts:\n\nDon\u2019t skip breakfast! Fatigue is certain to set in without proper fueling a few hours prior to competition\nDon\u2019t eat a large meal right before the competition. A large meal will sit in the gut and cause possible cramping and sickness.\nAvoid fried, high fat, or spicy foods\nDon\u2019t try any new foods the day of the race. Stick to your plan.\n\n\n\n\n\nPrepare for your triathlon with the help of the sports medicine performance experts at\u00a0UPMC Sports Medicine.