So, you have decided to do your first triathlon…
Be very careful as this may be a step that can potentially change your life – in a good way!
Everyone has a different reason for doing one (or hopefully more) triathlon and that is the beauty of our sport. It brings all people from different ages and different walks of life together to achieve a common goal, while at the same time enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
So what do you need to know ?
# 1 Believe that YOU CAN DO IT !
# 2 Learn how to swim
Being the first leg of the race this is fairly important .
Spend at least 2-3 session per week in the pool, grab a buddy to swim with or join a squad if you can.
Freestyle is the better choice of strokes to use in a race.
Learn how to ride
A good road bike is the best starting point.
Mountain bikes can be fun but a little heavy to race !
Speak to your local bike shop – see what they offer in your price range. A basic bike starts at approx $1000.
Make sure you have your bike properly fitted, this will ensure that you avoid injury when spending long hours in the saddle.
You will also need bike shoes with cleats, a helmet and carriers for water bottles.
Start out with a short ride to get yourself used to being on a bike then slowly increase the distance that you are riding and the time you are spending on the road.
# 4 Learn how to run
This can actually be more difficult than it sounds !
Make sure that you have runners that are good quality and supportive.
If you have any foot issues perhaps visit a podiatrist and have some shoes recommended.
Start with shorter distances and slowly build up to the distance that you aim to run in the race.
#5 Understand transition
This is the part of the race where you swap between the swim/bike and then the bike/run
The quicker you can complete transition the more chance you have of catching up to those in front !
Out of the water you run into the bike rack area, remove your wetsuit and firstly put on your bike helmet.
You cannot remove your bike if your helmet is not securely fastened.
Bike shoes can be already clipped to pedals – this takes practice – or you can run in them to the mount line.
At the mount line you can get on your bike and head off.
Coming in from the bike is transition 2 – you must dismount from your bike before the dismount line then run your
bike back to the allocated spot. You then remove your helmet, change shoes – grab your visor and head out onto the run !
# 6 Smile for the camera as you cross the finish line !
WHAT I NEED RACE DAY
Swim – goggle, cap, wetsuit if cold
Bike – Bike, Helmet, Sunglasses, Bike shoes, water bottles,
Run – Runners, Sun visor, Sunglasses
EXTRAS FOR RACE DAY
Transition towel to lay your race items on
Lubricant for getting wetsuit on/off easily. Best not to use baby oil as will ruin your wetsuit.
Commercially available product such as Glide is good
Antifog for your goggles
Speedometer for your bike – help you keep track of speed and distance
Gloves – not necessary but some people like wearing them
Gel bottle for nutrition on both bike and run
Running watch to track distance and pace
WHAT TO WEAR
There are many different types of race suit available
For shorter races a 1 piece race suit is generally better – it is worn in all 3 legs
For longer distances two piece suits are the best – just in case nature calls !
In general you need to use what you are comfortable in and it is definitely recommended to try it out before race day !
Socks are optional – most short course athletes choose not to wear them as it saves time in transition but longer course they are recommended.
WHAT DO I EAT
For a sprint race ( short ) you do not really need to have any extra nutrition
Breakfast approx 1 1/2 – 2 hours before the race – something like raisin toast or banana and honey on toast is good.
A gel or energy supplement can be used 15-20 mins before you start.
Water and electrolytes in your drink bottles can be consumed on the bike., and also on the run if they are available from aid stations.
As the length of the race increases you need to plan your nutrition accordingly, as this can make or break your performance.
Most importantly – don’t let yourself get dehydrated.
So, go out, have a blast and we hope to see you soon at your first race !
Thanks to Joanne McLaughlan