You can avoid some of the most basic triathlon challenges with better planning. Here are five ways to make sure your first triathlon is a stepping stone to a full on multisport addiction.
1. Include Swim/Bike and Bike/Run Workouts
Not every workout counts the same towards your race. You will undoubtedly swim, bike, and run before your next race. But the race will be one of the first times when you combine all three disciplines. As you will discover, being a successful translate means becoming comfortable with how you feel between each leg of the race.
Rather than waiting until race day to figure out what this feels like, you can plan ahead by working in some of these critical sessions. Plan on incorporating them in the final four weeks of the build up to your race.
The first session is the bike / run. Also known as a “brick” workout, this session gives you a chance to understand the disconnect between your running and cycling legs. It’s a great opportunity to practice proper pacing and restraint so you don’t blow your race in the first mile of the run by going too fast!
The brick workout’s lesser-known cousin is the swim/bike workout. It’s the more difficult one to make happen, but it’s far more important.
Most beginner triathletes are unprepared for the fatigue and stress they feel after completing the swim. Not to mention the stress of transition! Given the logistics, you’ll likely have to work in a swim/bike session on a weekend.
Remember, these don’t have to be done at a super hard intensity. You simply want to stack the two elements of the workout as close together as possible to simulate your race.
2. Prep Everything Before You Leave Your House
If you’re going to be late for anything, it’s likely going to be your first triathlon. Best laid plans aside, there’s a lot of logistical things that need to be sorted out before you can put on your goggles and swim. Packing. Directions. Food. Gear. Friends. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I recommend having everything set up before you leave your house. This means your swim stuff is in a bag, your bike stuff is in a separate bag and your run stuff is as well. Even your transition area set up is in its own bag/box, ready to go.
This way when you pull up on race morning, you already know that each bag has everything you need for the race. Bonus points for having a separate nutrition bag to easily distribute. This will set you free to focus on race morning check-in; you might even get in a good warm-up!
3. Slow It Down In Transition
While you are racing, you don’t need to be operating at full speed to be successful. Case in point — transitions.
As you move between phases of the race, your ability to smoothly execute each step is what makes you fast. We want to get each of these transitions right. There’s nothing worse than having to return for something, or having to stop because of an error. Your mantra should be: slow is smooth, smooth and fast.
4. Have A Great Pre-Race Dinner
When I said you’d be late, I forgot to mention that you’ll also have zero or minimal breakfast before the race. The only thing worse than a bad race is a bad race on an empty stomach.
Your muscles demand glycogen to perform and if you don’t fuel them you won’t see the results you deserve. Instead of putting all of the emphasis on your breakfast, why not make sure to have a great dinner the night before? This way if everything falls apart in the morning you know you had some good calories before the race.
In terms of your dinner, you’ll want to avoid most forms of fiber. A good pasta dinner with some protein (chicken) and minimal sauce should do the trick. Feel free to help yourself to the garlic bread and don’t forget some water.
5. Thank All the Volunteers
By and large the most important thing you can do is enjoy your day. Instead of telling you to smile through the pain, I want you to thank all the volunteers you see. Just a simple thank you at registration or down at the race start or even on the run can make a difference.
Thank them. –> They smile. –> You smile back. –> Your day is awesome.
having good race juju on your side is one of the best ways to make sure you have a great race. And having a great race experience is the best way to make sure you come back for the next one!
Good luck, and be sure to tell us how you did on our Facebook page.
Ps – don’t forget the free short course training plan…now you have zero excuses!