My 10 Tips & Tricks For Triathlon
I’ve worked in technical support for many years and there is a response that comes up very often in our mind: RTFM (Read The Fucking Manual). Same goes to triathlon. Don’t enter a race without checking the rules (you might need to attend the race briefing or rack your bike a day before the race) or the swim/bike/ routes. It will save you some nasty surprises.
I remember entering Blenheim and Windsor triathlons without really checking the dates only to discover later they were on the same week-end. If you’ve done the Windsor triathlon, you would know you have to rack your bike the day before. I went straight from Blenheim finish line to Windsor.
Don’t wait the last minute to pack your kit for the race. Dp it one or two days before. Check the journey to go there, allow plenty of time.
I once left thinking I had plenty of time. It wasn’t a long journey, but I decided to stop for a coffee, then I realised I didn’t have enough fuel, had to stop for a wee, and … the sat nav kept changing the route. I’ve arrived at Woburn just in time to register, rack my bike, put my wetsuit on, swallow an energy gel and go to my wave’s start.
2. Be Prepared
3. Easily get faster
The fastest way to get faster in triathlon (up to Olympic distance), in my opinion, is to work on your transition. Learn how to remove your wetsuit quickly. Forget the towel and getting dry, forget your socks, buy a Tri-suit, some baby powder, and some running shoe laces.
I remember one of my first triathlon in St Albans. It was a pool swim so I didn’t have to go through the pain of removing my wetsuit. But I had a towel to dry my feet in T1 and allowed plenty of time to put my socks on. In T2 I waisted some time, again, trying to put my running shoes on. Nowadays, I jump on my bike and slide my feet into my cycling shoes (tied to my bike’s pedals) and slide easily to my running shoes all thanks to the baby powder and the running shoe lace.
If you are a fast swimmer, there are a couple of tricks I don’t do. The first one, is to get into an horizontal position just before the start, so you’re ready to go. The second one is – in the first minute or so – to push really hard to get away as fast as you can from everyone before settling nicely into your race pace. And the third one, is to use the corkscrew method to get around a buoy.
If you are a slow and not confident swimmer, start at the back. You should avoid people kicking you and swimming on top of you.
On the exit, in open water, try to open your wetsuit and get some water in (between your chest and the wetsuit), that should make it easier to remove.
4. Swim start
For a long time I’ve seen people using some product (mainly around the neck) before putting on their wetsuit. I’ve always thought it was to fight the cold water (yes, seriously. doh!). Turned out it’s a lube, and make it easier to remove your wetsuit. Pop some around your neck and wrists.
Another advice is on the exit, in open water. Try to open your wetsuit and get some water in (between your chest and the wetsuit), it should make it easier to remove. Run towards the transition area, and take the opportunity to remove your hat, goggles and half of your wetsuit (down to your waist).
Make sure to pump your tyre the day before the race and check them in the morning. Take spare inner tube and tyre in case you need to change it.
I remember doing the Brownlees’ triathlon in the South and seeing a competitor changing his brand new tube on the back of his car.
Also, check the start of the bike course and make sure you’re in the correct gear.
Use your training sessions to practice nutrition intakes. On race day, I usually have a bowl of porridge with a banana and a coffee 3 hours before the race. During the race I usually get an energy gel just before the swim. Drink a sip of an electrolyte solution every 10 minutes on the bike and absorb an energy gel or energy bar every 30-45 minutes. On the run, I will use the aid stations to get water, and I will carry some gels with me, if needed (depending on the distance).
I once did the London triathlon were my wave start was mid day. I didn’t have a breakfast thinking I will get it once I got to the Excel. I couldn’t really find something I fancied there, so went on and raced on an empty stomach. I don’t advise you doing it!
Some event provide energy gels and electrolytes to the competitors before the race and at the aid stations. Check who they’ve partner with and test it months or weeks in advance to make sure your body supports it. You would be surprised …
Caffeine is your friend. It’s a stimulant. It’s good for racing. However er, if you are a regular coffee addict, a coffee on race day won’t do anything to your body. 3 to 4 days before the race, stop having your daily coffee(s) and you should see get the full benefits when needed.
9. Safety pin
In triathlon, you need to have your race number on your back for the bike leg, and on your front for the run leg. I will urge you to get a race belt, saving you time and hassle. And money too as you won’t trash your Tri-suit / clothes with the safety pins. If you don’t have a race belt, then take some safety pins with you, just in case they don’t have some on the race day.Also, you usually need your number on your helmet, which sucks as most of the time it leaves marks when trying to remove it. But it’s for the best if you order your photo souvenir, they can identify more easily and make sure you get the best photo bundle.
Finally, you will have to put your number on your bike. On the seat post is the most common place. and again, it sucks because it leaves marks when you remove it. However, here, there is a trick and I will try to explain it to my best abilities. When you remove the backside of your race number, only remove the part that won’t cover your seat post and join them together around your seat post.
I’m still unsure where it’s best to put your bike. Closer to the bike exit? Closer to the bike entrance? Looking at the pro, the fastest/favourite is always at the bike exit (T1). Now, if you don’t have the luxury of being able to put it straight next to the exit, and you’re not forced to place it somewhere, try to find a place your will remember and spot very easily.
In one of my first triathlon – Woking – I’ve placed my bike opposite a massive tree. No chance I would miss it and spend minutes trying to find it.
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