10 tips to help you tackle your first triathlon

A handful of my nearest and dearest friends are currently in full swing training for the up and coming Byron Bay Triathlon…. for 95% of them this will be their first experience in the weird and wonderful world of triathlon’s. And what a different experience it is… think it’s tough doing a 10km run of a morning? Try that after sitting on a bike for 40-50km, your quads are lactic and your legs feel like lead. It’s most certainly not a sport for the faint hearted!

It’s now four weeks out so obviously all their training programs are in full swing. BUT I thought they could all use a few little handy hints to ensure they are adequately prepared for race day.

  1. Outfit/Race Attire: high on the importance list I might say, at least if you’re feeling like death during the run leg you may as well look good! Get a tri-suit. Yes these are lyrca… delicious. Designed to be worn for the entire event (minimising time in the transition zone.. winning) and they have just enough padding in the crotch region to give you a little something extra on the bike without feeling bulky on the run leg. Hat and sunglasses optional but I suggest for Byron especially it may be a little hot so one of the two may be useful
  2. Hydration/ nutrition: yes there will be water and sports drink stations along the length of the run, but make sure you have a little extra. Sports gels can help replenish vital electrolytes that you will lose as you sweat and can help prevent cramps and tired muscles. (purchase these from most sports shops – If you live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney go to the Running Company in Bondi Beach they will sort you right out)
  3. Bike: yes you need one of these and I would recommend sourcing a proper tri-athalon bike. (I once did a short corporate Tri- athalon on a mounttri 1ain bike…… won’t be making that mistake again) it saves your legs a whole lot of pain and suffering having a good bike and they will thank you for it during the running leg.
  4. Tapering: Make sure you give your body some rest leading up to the day of the event. In the final two weeks all the hard preparation has been done, you won’t achieve much by overtraining in this period (kind of like cramming over night for a school exam.. highly ineffective) In the week leading up cut back your training by about 50%. Most people like to do something light the day before, an easy paced jog or wind their legs over on the bike. Completely up to you.
  5. Fuel your body: What you eat in the lead up to a race can significantly affect your body’s performance. On the night before try and eat a relatively early dinner (about 12 hours before the race). It’s good to make carbohydrates the focal point but don’t gorge on them. Ideally you want to eat a meal not too dissimilar to one you would eat the night before a big training day. Drink plenty of water but don’t over hydrate. On the morning off the race have a light breakfast at least an hour and a half to two hours before your start time. Post race re-hydrate first celebrate second. Don’t make your first drink post race a Corona!!!

ON RACE DAY

  1. Transition Area: this is the ‘fourth discipline’ to a tri-athalon and one that is quite often ignored. Races can be won and lost in the transition area: BE ORGANISED, have your gear laid out so you can make your transition aOLY-2008-TRIATHLON-MENs efficient as possible. Prepare a checklist so you don’t forget anything on the day. Think towel, helmet, runners, socks, hat, sunglasses,
  2. Socks: me personally… Can’t wear runners without socks, it would legitimately be my worst nightmare jumping off my bike reaching for my runners and realising NO SOCKS!!!!! The thought makes me a little uncomfortable and a little anxious. REMEMBER YOUR SOCKS PLEASE
  3. Race number / timing chip / race day cap : Necessary  to start the event !
  4. Warm Up: Tri-athalon events are usually full of buzz and entertainment with stalls housing the latest and greatest exercise gear and nutritional supplements.. By all means get involved and take in the atmosphere BUT don’t forget to warm up. Dynamic, active stretching is best! And stay warm.. no need to be prancing about in your swimmers an hour before your wave starts.
  5. CARDINAL RULE: DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. There is a time and place for wearing your funky new running shoes or having pasta for breakfast instead of your usual eggs on toast…. and race day isn’t it! Stick to what you know Have fun and GOOD LUCK!

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