Training for the Reeds Lake Triathlon

by | Jun 15, 2018

Every journey starts with a first step—and that includes a step into the water, followed by stepping onto a bike and then hoofing it to the finish!

If “completing a triathlon” is on your bucket list, good for you! It’s a goal that might seem quite lofty if you’re a beginner, but it’s not an insurmountable one. (Ask Dr. Sundling about it sometime—she’s done it!)

The keys to preparing lie in consistency, safety, and patience. We won’t say you’ll be at the front of the pack at the end, but just making it to the finish line at all is a huge achievement!

Luckily, we have a great triathlon in our region to shoot for.

The Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Triathlon

Before we discuss training tips, let’s learn a bit more about the big event.

Hundreds of athletes take to East Grand Rapids each September for the Reeds Lake Triathlon. The event starts at John Collins Park with a 750m swim in the lake, followed by a 20K bike course and then a 5K run through the eastern neighborhoods.

If performing in all three stages of the triathlon sounds too daunting for you at this point, keep in mind that there are additional options. You could take part in the duathlon (5K run, 20K bike, 5K run) or the AquaBike event (750m swim, 20K bike, no run). Any of these are more than worthy.

So How Do You Prepare for a Triathlon?

The tips we’re going to provide here are for those who are just starting out. They’ll also be largely foot-and ankle-related at points because, hey—we’re podiatrists!

Reed's Lake Triathlon

Get Equipped

First of all, let’s talk gear. You need a basic level of essential equipment for training and the big day. It doesn’t have to break the bank, though. You’ll need:

  • A swim suit and goggles (plus a cap if you have long hair and don’t want to be fighting it)
  • A bike that fits and isn’t falling apart. A “pro” bike is not required. A road bike, mountain bike, or anything in between is adequate.
  • A water bottle for long sessions.
  • The right running shoes.

Let’s talk more about that last one. You don’t need the most expensive shoes on the market, but a good pair of running shoes will be vital for providing the stability you need and preventing the blisters, black toenails and sores you absolutely don’t want!

The best way to get your running shoes is to consult your podiatrist, or possible the experts at a local running or athletics store. They’re trained to find the right shoes with the right fit for a variety of needs.

Do you need cycling shoes? If you really love cycling, they can’t hurt. They’re not necessary, though. A good pair of cycling shorts, on the other hand? You’ll want those if you want to avoid sores or chaffing on long training routes.

Get Checked Out

No matter what kind of training plan you commit to, do not begin until you run it by a medical professional first.

Your general practitioner can provide guidance and address any concerns that may arise when it comes to your activity levels and general health. And, if you have a history of foot and ankle conditions, it goes without saying that you should see us for an evaluation!

Not only can a professional opinion help lower your risks of injury and problems, but we may also help you customize your training so you can get the best benefits for your specific goals and situation!


Get Going

What kind of training plan should you consider? It will vary based on your needs (see “Get Checked Out” above), but it’s possible to go from virtually no fitness to triathlon ready in about 12 weeks.

How does that look? In one word: committed.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are not trying to reach your goal level right out of the gate. Your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons must all be gradually trained up to endure what you will want out of them at the triathlon. Push too hard, too soon, and you risk all sorts of painful problems such as tendinitis, stress fractures, and bursitis.

(Treating these conditions is our job, but we’d still rather not see them getting in the way of your goals in the first place!)

A 12-week plan may take the form of training five days per week for anywhere between 2.5 to 5 hours per week. Again, consult with professionals for a better idea of your personal limits!

Out of your five workouts each week, two should be swimming if you’re going to be spending some time in the water. The rest should be combinations of biking and running in the same workout period. Switching between the two modes of transportation during one workout session will help prevent injury, not to mention simulate the actual race.

As you get into a routine, and with the right advice, you can customize and gradually build up your workouts over the weeks. While you might have days when you feel you could add an extra day, don’t overdo it. Your body needs set recovery days and weeks where you take things a little easier.

Remember: Recovery is where your body rebuilds itself and grows stronger and more efficient. Leave those opportunities out and you’ll gradually burn out and break down!

We’re Here to Help You Tri!

The Reeds Lake Triathlon is a great way to prove your capabilities to the world but, more importantly, yourself. And we want to cheer you on!

If you’re looking for foot and ankle advice, or treatment for painful conditions, come see us at Northwood Foot and Ankle Center. Our offices in Holland and Saint Joseph will help you get up and running in the fastest and safest ways possible.

Holland Office

388 Garden Avenue, Suite 120
Holland, MI 49424
Phone: 616-393-8886
Fax: 616-393-9975



Holland: Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm

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