Summer is fast approaching and the 2019 triathlon season has begun!
Being a triathlete myself and reminiscing of my first few races, there are certainly some tips I wish I’d been given prior to the day. So this post is aimed at helping those first timers who are in the same position in a bid to help you avoid the mistakes I made!
1. Practice swimming in open water before the race
Open water swimming is entirely different to pool swimming. For a start, you haven’t got the lane etiquette and that big black line to follow up and down. Instead you will be emerged in a dark lake with weeds and a couple of bouys to sight. If the swim is a “mass start” get ready for a bit of a scuffle. You will find yourself surrounded by flying limbs left right and centre and it can all be a little overwhelming especially if it’s your first time.
Try to remain calm and get yourself into a space where you are free to move and hit a rhythm (this may take a couple of hundred metres before this can happen due to the number of other triathletes in the swim).
Remember to sight regularly and look out for the bouys as it is easy to drift off course without even feeling it. It takes a few times to adjust so if you can get yourself to an open water swimming venue before hand, I highly recommend it.
2. Always check your bike
Prior to your race, give your bike a little once over, checking the gears and breaks are working efficiently, your tyre pressures are correct and you are happy with the set up.
This can be done the night before and also when in transition setting up prior to your race. Although once you leave transition it is out of your control what happens, knowing that everything was working and you’ve placed your bike into the correct gears before takes a little pressure off of you when you rush in from your swim.
My first triathlon saw me having to place the chain back on once I had de-racked my bike from T1 because it was in the wrong gear when I went to mount…fun times!
3. Practice your transitions.
It’s a good idea to have a couple of trial runs of your T1 and T2 transitions prior to race day especially if you are racing in a sprint and olympic where every second matters. The time taken in transitions can be valuable, so nailing these as efficiently and fast as possible is key. An example would be practicing coming out of your wetsuit and putting on your bike gear as these things can be tricky when under a pressured situation like a race.
4. Elastic laces are game changers.
Swapping your normal laces for elastic ones is a great idea and one which will save you valuable time in T2. When I did my first triathlon I had no idea about elastic laces and spent a few too many minutes undoing and redoing my laces before setting off on my run.
5. Don’t forget to enjoy it.
Although the above tips are something which can help prepare you a little better than I was for my first triathlon, it’s important to not get too caught up in it all with it being your first race. Try to take it all in and enjoy the day. There will be plenty of opportunities to nail these tips in future races and improve on your times etc.
Triathlon is a great sport and one which brings everybody together and involves all walks of life. The triathlon community is so friendly and helpful and I have no doubt that which ever race you have entered for your first one will be great!
Be sure to check out our 2019 triathlons:
Westonbirt sprint triathlon – 27th May 2019
Titan Brecon middle distance – 15th June 2019
Portishead sprint triathlon – 17th August 2019