Do-ing Your First Triathlon

Years ago, I embarked on my first triathlon training season. It literally was a life changing experience. Through SMART training I made a new community of friends with common interests, learned body awareness, found my career calling, developed greater self-worth, and that’s just a little of what I learned.

When I decided I wanted to BE a triathlete, then I needed a training plan (MOVE) so that I could DO it well.

Here’s a few tips for newbies that helped me out.

1. Take out a calendar and set a training schedule. 
Tri training is very time consuming because you have to practice three sports and there is supplemental strength training in between. You really shouldn’t enter it with half a heart or you will risk injuring yourself.

You need to schedule training time. Time will dictate as to whether you can fully commit.  You can also choose one sport or biathlon to commit to if short on time. Don’t ponder the question too long.

Once you decide to do it, choose your race.

2. Choose your race, date, and distance first.
I have heard of people preforming triathlon training without having registered for any given race. This makes as much sense as going for accepting a wedding proposal and refusing to set a wedding date.

I believe it is pro-active to choose your major race first then create a training schedule around your deadline. Be aware triathlon racing is not cheap. Race fees are fairly high and you need gear.

3. Create a Workout Schedule to support your training with an emphasis on Strength, Endurance and Sport-specificity.
You have a schedule of availability and a race date. Now go join a group, a team or get some coaching. Also, schedule a few small races to get you accustomed to competitive racing.

There are many online coaches and training guides out there but nothing replaces human face-to-face contact. You will want someone to observe your technique and offer feedback in real time. You also will have a shoulder to lean on.

I joined a non-competitive small group. Having the support was invaluable. Triathlon can be very lonely. It is not a team sport but training can be. If you have a team, you have accountability partners, you can go to races together and celebrate after.

4. Race Day Prep.
Don’t do anything race day that you haven’t practiced before then. Here is my race day mental checklist.


What You Need

  • Make sure you have sneakers, bike shoes, water bottles, nutrition snacks, bike helmet, towel, singlet and all gear in a neat bag.
  • Bring safety pins for your race number and a thick marker to draw your number on your legs and arms.
  • Buy a silicone-gel like Bodyglide Original Anti-Chafe Balm. You won’t regret it.
  • Lay your stuff out so you can keep the transition smooth.
Pre-race
  • Get your check-in bag and number or arrange for it to be picked up on your behalf.
  • Check out the course and map it. If possible drive it, run it or cycle the distances so you can mentally rehearse.
  • Eat well and get some some sleep.
  • Set two alarms, just in case, and go to sleep packed and ready to walk out the door the next morning.

Swim

  • You will need goggles and a swim cap? Usually you are given one with your race package but bring an extra just in case.
  • Will you race in a wetsuit? If so, source it now. Practice putting it on, swimming and taking it off quickly.
  • After the race, don’t forget to rinse your wetsuit with fresh water before packing it. There are usually showers available.

Bike.

  • Have your helmet?
  • Will you buy, rent or borrow a bike?
  • Will you clip in? If so, practice your transition.
  • If you decide to wear running shoes and use adjustable pedal cages, practice the transition.
  • Do you need a bike tune up or fitting?
  • Do you know how to change a flat and have the tools?
  • If traveling, do you have a car bike mount or carrying case?
  • If you are traveling for your race, do you know how to assemble and reassemble your bike? Practice.
  • Have your water bottles full, inserted into your holder and ready to race?
  • When you slip on your singlet make sure your number is already attached and nutrition snacks in the pockets.
Run
  • Will you run in your Speedo, buy a tri suit or slip on shorts? Choose and keep it ready.
  • Will you run with a tri hat? Have it handy.
  • Will you use a race belt?
  • Get Shoe Lock Laces so you can slip on your running shoes and don’t have to fuss with your laces.
  • Practice your bike to run transition.
Post-race
  • Have a clean change of clothes.
  • Try not to throw your stuff in the transition so collecting your gear will be easy.
  • Keep a plastic bag handy so you can separate wet from dry clothes.
  • Rinse your swim gear in fresh water before storing.
  • Examine your race time, transition times and make notes as to where you can improve.
  • Adjust your training, take the lessons with you and move forward.
These are some basic tips to get you through the first few races. There are many options available to you and once you get started you will work out a system that works for you. Practice makes better and have fun.
Be. Move. Do.
Erwin

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