Rik talks triathlons: part one – from zero to Bala Triathlon 2022
For our latest blog series, we are talking all things triathlon with our very own Rik Milne. Rik has recently completed the Bala Triathlon 2022 (which was his first Olympic Triathlon) and so we caught up with him to find out more about his triathlon journey.
In part one, we discuss Rik’s experience of the Bala Triathlon, how he got into triathlons and how to approach learning all three disciplines.
Tell us about your recent triathlon
Two weeks ago, I did the Bala Triathlon. It was an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run), which is the longest I’ve done. It was a bit of a milestone.
It was quite a brutal swim because of poor weather and so the lake was quite choppy. When you turned your head to breathe, you were only just above the water line and so you kept getting bashed in the head by the waves!
There were 790 participants and I came 267th, which I was pretty pleased with! It is quite a serious triathlon for non-professionals, with it being a qualifying event for those who want to represent their country. Of the 266 people ahead of me, there were quite a lot of serious triathletes in there.
You’ve just completed the Bala Triathlon 2022, but how did you get into triathlons and when did you do your first one?
Just over two and a half years ago, I got an entry to the Cheshire Sprint Triathlon (in Nantwich) as a Christmas present. I don’t know where it came from. I must have mentioned it in my sleep! I have to say that I was pretty horrified and not sure that it was even doable for me at that time. I didn’t even own a bike! That was when it all started.
How did you find that first triathlon?
It was a very steep learning curve! Transitions are very difficult to replicate in training and it is only really in events that you learn from your own mistakes. For example, you can end up cycling in soggy socks if you haven’t thought things through! The Cheshire Triathlon is advertised as a family event, so it is a great one to do as your first triathlon. It was an eye-opener. I realised that if this was something I wanted to do, then there were lots of things I needed to learn. It was a great first triathlon and lots of fun. For me, it was a marker as to what I needed to do to prepare for triathlons in the future.
How did you go about learning and training for three disciplines?
The best thing I did was to join a local triathlon club (the Knutsford Tri Club). It is very well-established and has members of all abilities. They organise lots of events that you can take part in. At that stage, there is nothing more technical than just starting to do it. I was coming from zero, although I had done a bit of running.
Joining the Knutsford Tri Club was pivotal for me to progress and get better. You can talk to other members and get hints and tips. Being part of that community has been brilliant and I decided that I wanted to take it further.
How far in advance of an event do you need to start training?
It is different for everyone. It really depends on your goal, which dictates the amount of effort and training you need to put in.
The difficulty with a triathlon, of course, is that there are three disciplines to train for. You have to share your weekly training schedule with all three, which means that your progress in each is slower than if you were just running, for example. The minimum amount of training, I would say, is about six to eight weeks, if you are looking to begin with a sprint triathlon.
My goal was that I never wanted to be in a position where I was worried about whether I could finish. I aim to enjoy and finish each triathlon (as well as being as high up in the rankings as possible).
If you’ve trained well, you have the confidence that you will finish, so you can enjoy the event more. I would recommend that you don’t necessarily over-train, but that you train more than the minimum training required, so that you can enjoy it.
It’s been great finding out about Rik’s experience of the Bala Triathlon 2022 and discovering how he got into triathlons. Perhaps you’ve been inspired to give a fitness-related Christmas present. If so, check out our guide to some of the best Christmas gifts!
We’ll hear more from Rik in part two, so keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment!