Cross-training is grueling...but there’s not a lot that beats how strong, fast, and amazingly powerful you feel after pushing through your actual race. Whether you’re a racing queen who barely breaks a sweat, or a total rookie just looking for advice, these triathlon tips will help you improve your performance and conquer your next (or first) triathlon.
Find a buddy
Let’s be honest, training doesn’t always feel amazing. And hard sessions can really take their toll on you. One of the best and most simple triathlon tips is to find a friend (or even a group—ladies’ day out, anyone?) to train with in order to keep accountable—and to have someone to commiserate with.
Swim in the open
Practice helps, but training only in the pool won’t do you any favors if you’ll be swimming in open water on the big day. Trust us, the last thing you want is to be flustered by seaweed (or sea life!) on your first time out—so hop in a lake or the sea to see what it’s like.
Prepare for injuries
Getting injured, especially on or near the big day, can really shake you mentally. But DON’T ignore your body: keep paying attention to any pains or warning signs as you train! It’s better to slow down, or even stop, than to risk permanent injury.
Obviously, you’ll need all the essentials, from goggles, to electrolytes, to your helmet...but don’t forget that it pays to prepare for the unexpected, since you never know what race day will bring! For example, keep an extra tube and CO2 handy for the bike course, and pack band-aids for minor injuries or chafing. And always keep an anti-chafing cream on hand.
Plan for race day
The day of the event, eat a few hours before the race begins, and sip fluids leading up to the start. (Also, here’s an extra beginner tip: don’t forget to pee right before you go, or do the unmentionable, pee in the water in your wetsuit! If the water is cold peeing in your wetsuit at the start, while embarrassing to discuss, is what many seasoned triathletes do to keep warm and to avoid having to get out of the wetsuit at the last minute!).
Dry your footwear
However much you dry your feet after swimming, the story’s always the same: your skin is somehow still damp skin while you’re frantically trying to pull on your shoes. Make things easier on yourself by sprinkling talcum powder into your socks and shoes in advance to save yourself time.
Get out of your wetsuit
No one tells you this, but it’s super hard to shimmy out of a wetsuit even when time isn’t on your mind. It’ll sound a little strange, but try swiping some vaseline on your arms and legs before the race, not only to prevent chafing, but also to help you slip your wetsuit off quickly. Make sure to also rub some around the neck of the suit, as this is one of the most common areas for chafing in a wetsuit!!
Transition from biking
The bike-to-run transition is surprisingly tricky! Newbies sometimes find that their legs feel like lead for the first part of the race. To make it easier, put your bike in a lower gear in the last stretch of the bike course. This lets you spin your legs a little more quickly to warm them up in advance.
Try doing the first segment of the triathlon a little slower than you think you should. (That’s right, slower!) Triathlon novices often start off way too fast, which drains their energy. But when you’ve hit the halfway point, it’s time to give it your all and finish strong! If your run is fast, you’ve successfully planned well.
Know the route
It sounds obvious, but this is one of the most important triathlon tips...figure out where you’re going! The last thing you want is to make frustrating wrong turns after all your prep. While most courses are very well marked, it is a good idea to be mentally prepared for any sharp turns, areas where no passing is allowed, hills and flatter areas where you can open it up a little.
When it’s over
Refuel as soon as you can after a race, with lots of water/electrolytes and protein. Don’t forget to use compression wear to increase blood flow to your recovering muscles. Stay tuned into what your body needs, including good sleep and nutrition.
With these triathlon tips in mind (plus a little mental preparation) you’ll find that race day goes more smoothly than you might think. Good luck out there!