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5 rules for new triathletes

By April Burkey, Special to CNN
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
The CNN Fit Nation "6-Pack" conquered the ocean in Clermont, Florida, on their midway training trip in May. Team members <a href='https://twitter.com/TriHardTabitha' target='_blank'>Tabitha McMahon</a>, front row from left, <a href='https://twitter.com/TriHardRae' target='_blank'>Rae Timme</a> and <a href='https://twitter.com/TriHardAnnette' target='_blank'>Annette Miller</a> and <a href='https://twitter.com/triharddouglas' target='_blank'>Douglas Mogle</a>, back row, from left, <a href='https://twitter.com/TriHardClevelan' target='_blank'>Will Cleveland</a> and <a href='https://twitter.com/TriHardStacy' target='_blank'>Stacy Mantooth</a> are training to race the 2013 Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 8 alongside CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The CNN Fit Nation "6-Pack" conquered the ocean in Clermont, Florida, on their midway training trip in May. Team members Tabitha McMahon, front row from left, Rae Timme and Annette Miller and Douglas Mogle, back row, from left, Will Cleveland and Stacy Mantooth are training to race the 2013 Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 8 alongside CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
Fit Nation '6-Pack' hits Florida
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Fit Nation "6-Pack" is training together in Florida this week
  • Coach April Burkey offers training plans and tips for CNN's triathletes-to-be
  • Burkey: At the end of the day, the sport is simply running, biking and swimming

Editor's note: April Burkey is one of the coaches for the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Follow members of the "6-pack" on Twitter and Facebook as they train to race the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta on September 8.

(CNN) -- The Fit Nation "6-Pack" is visiting the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, this week to learn more about biking, swimming and running. Like many newcomers to the sport of triathlon, they've made some mistakes early on. This trip, halfway through the training, is about fixing those mistakes.

I've trained three groups of Fit Nation triathletes, and over the years I've come up with five simple rules all beginners should follow:

1. Find a love for each discipline.

It's OK not to love every training session, but I think it's important to enjoy your time swimming, biking and running. It's important to view this time as a gift -- as an opportunity for adventure, improved fitness and overall better quality of life.

2. Keep it simple.

The triathlon industry is fast paced and high tech, based on the demographic of the sports participants. Don't get lost in the heart rate, wattage, newest gadget, latest diet plan or running shoe.

At the end of the day, the sport is simply: Swim. Bike. Run.

I am not saying some of these gadgets won't help your progression as an athlete, but they are not all necessary, especially not early in your training. Don't get lost in the hype and the information overload.

3. Do not avoid the sport you favor the least.

It is human nature to do what we are more familiar with more frequently. If you are a weak swimmer, however, your swim will not improve by running three to four times a week and swimming only one to two times a week.

Aim for balance in your training rather than avoidance.

4. Follow a training plan.

Write your own plan, find a training plan online or work with a coach. Choose the path that is the best fit. A plan will help you reach your goals, create balance in training and help prevent injury.

5. Don't worry about the finish line.

Stay in the present throughout your triathlon progression. Break things up into manageable pieces and check them off as you accomplish bench marks.

For example, break your first 4-mile run effort into 2 x 2-mile efforts. Don't think about the second effort until you have accomplished the first. Acknowledge the accomplishment of the first 2-mile effort as you continue moving forward into the second part of the effort.

Follow Burkey on Twitter @aprils_awesome.

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