A beginners guide to triathlon

A beginners guide to the sport of triathlon - Dennis BosseFor those that don’t know me, I am also a beginner triathlete. I have completed 2 seasons of triathlon so far. I went through what seems like a pretty typical path of getting into the sport and will look to share what I have learned along the way.

Why the blog?

Recently, the triathlon club I belong to, Hartford Extended Area Triathletes – HEAT, asked its members with at least 2 seasons of experience to become mentors. Knowing the benefit of mentoring from both sides of the fence, I felt it would be good to share what I have learned. Understanding full well that teaching others is also a good way to solidify my own learning.

With the blog, people will be able to read, ask questions and learn about triathlon. A great way to share our love of the sport.

How did I get here?

Reader’s Digest version – I have been through a few medical issues, always fought with weight (diagnosed as clinically obese) and was told I had a better than 80% chance of becoming a diabetic. After my heart attack I started to get serious about losing weight. A friend asked me what I was going to do to keep the weight off and asked about triathlons. I had always been interested and decided to take him up on his offer to try out Winding Trails in Farmington, CT. The rest, as they say, is history.


Although the amount of time I have been doing this has been rather limited I am fortunate to live in an area that is rich with triathlon activity. Weekly racing series for Sprints, many Olympic and 70.3 distances within driving distance, has given me the opportunity to participate in quite a few races in my short career.

Dennis Vineyard 70.3 triathlon 250 x 440So far I have completed:
12 – Sprint distance – both on and off road
1 – Olympic distance
1 – Half Distance – 70.3 miles
1 – 5k Road race
2 – 4.78 mile road races
1 – Half Marathon

What will I do?

I will be adding to my blog articles specific to the beginner triathlete. I will take suggestions from any of you as to the topics covered and where / how these articles go.

I am also lucky to have a friend, Denis Finnegan, who is just getting started in the sport of triathlon. I have been working with him and will be mentoring with him as well. He and I go back a ways and in a few different areas. My working with him will add great insight into the mentor / mentee relationship.

The other Denis

OK – the basics

Triathlon is very simply three different activities.
– Swim
– Bike
– Run

There is an old saying: “Why excel at one sport when you can suck at three”.

I am not sure of the original source. I really do like that saying.. 🙂

Understanding if you work on all three disciplines you will probably NOT:
– Swim as fast as “swimmers”
– Bike as fast as “Bikers”
– Run as fast as “runners”

When people specialize in one sport they excel. When you try to work on three at once. You can make progress in all 3 – just not as much as the person that is truly focused.

When you head out on the weekly bike ride with the local bike shop, don’t be surprised if the bikers leave you in the dust. I have been out with a few people that are dedicated bikers… man can they move! They climb hills like nobody’s business too.

Funny story – Last July I had just purchased my triathlon bike. I was on Old Main Street, a place that has a nice long straight away and where I can do pretty well speed wise. I was doing great hitting a decent 1 – 1.5 mph than my best effort on that segment. Tucked down in aero – feeling awesome.

It is at this point a “biker” comes by me sitting upright, drinking out of his water bottle and I believe he was either one handed or driving with no hands. Looked over at me and said “hey, how’s it going” and easily went right by me…

Uh, what the Hell??

We rode together for a bit, he was basically spinning – like a recovery speed and I was going balls to the wall. We chatted and got to know each other. We complimented each other on our bikes, he was driving a Trek Emondo, I had my new Felt B14 TT bike.

It is amazing how much you can get to know someone just biking and talking… Turns out he is the head of the Aetna Bike team and is a sponsored rider. When we talked about gear and stuff I asked if he was on Strava – He said “yeah, you’re riding on my segment”.  🙂

After a bit he said “nice chatting with you, I need to turn it up a bit” and he took off. Like gone….

This will bring me to my next item.

Know your competition

Step 1 – go find a mirror (seriously)
Step 2 – Look into the mirror – look deep into your eyes
Step 3 – THAT is your competition! Period!!

Swimmers, bikers, runners, triathletes, they are not your competition – you are your own competition.

I have never seen anyone celebrate the fact they beat someone. People may celebrate their successes, everyone is there to do the best they can. Still, Most people are excited to see others do well and everyone cheers on everyone.

Yes, there are those people that are competitive and trying to finish on the podium (top 3) yet they still look to race the best race they can.

  • Will you pass people – yup.
  • Will people pass you – you bet ya.

When you are passed – listen – most people will give you words of encouragement. Passing or being passed, I do the same. We are there to run our race and encourage those that are running theirs. Smile, wave, keep going.

With this in mind, do not try to be someone else. You need to do your workouts, you need to run your races. When you try to do more than you are ready for you will end up getting hurt. This will put a damper on the rest of your training and racing.

What is the first advice I can give to you?

  1. Start slow – this is a marathon not a sprint. Things will take time (TIME – This I Must Earn).
  2. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing.
  3. Stay healthy.
  4. Keep smiling – enjoy the journey!

Please let me know of any questions or comments. What you read here is strictly my experience and opinion. I will link to sources when I can and share information as accurately as I am aware.

If you have comments of suggestion please feel free to send me an email: dennis.r.bosse (at) gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!
Peace and love,


  1. Denis Finnegan on March 1, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Nice blog one “N”!

    I am the other Denis mentioned in the list and a newbee Triathlete. We kid each other about how we spell our names.

    Dennis has been a great friend and guide in the early part of my tri journey.

    I currently am recovering from SI joint pain from swimming with wetsuit and exaggerating my breath turns , I.e., slapping my pull buoy.

    PT has me strengthening my core. She also recommended reading the Well built Triathlete by Dixon.

    Hope to restart training this week.

    What is clear so far to this new Triathlete is having someone like two N to ask questions and share my journey with is a real gift! Thanks all for inspiring this young 63 year old to join this way of life.

    Thanks Denis one” N”

    • dennisbosse on March 1, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Hello Denis!
      Nice to have you stop by. Can’t wait to see your progress and hitting your goals this summer.

      Afterwards, we can work on the spelling.. 🙂


      • Denis on March 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

        No buddy you have to become lighter to be a good Triathlete. Drop the N! 😉

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