9 Quick Tips for First Time Triathletes
Brought to you by our friends at South Bay Multisport
1. Triathlon is challenging, but not impossible!
While the task at hand may sound daunting at first, keeping a positive attitude throughout your training and racing is key to getting yourself across the finish line.
2. Have a game plan
This can be something as simple as, “I want to go faster during the second half of the race,” or, “I know I’m a strong runner. I’m going to try pushing the pace when I get to the run.” A game plan gives you something to keep you motivated throughout the race, and executing a plan well can be incredibly rewarding in itself.
3. Set Goals
Even small goals, such as making it through the run without walking, can go a long way in keeping your motivation levels up when your body starts to fatigue. In addition to being a part of your game plan, you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction knowing you kept and met that goal on race day!
4. Utilize online resources to learn more about the technicalities of training and racing
The internet has a plethora of online articles, e-books, forums, as well as free training plans and advice for soon-to-be triathletes. A quick Google search can be invaluable to someone looking to gain some insight in the sport.
5. Do NOT neglect the swim
Many new triathletes are often most nervous about the swim leg of a triathlon, particularly open water swimming. Ease your anxiety by becoming comfortable in the water WELL before race morning. Race day nerves will have you jittery as it is at the swim start, and the last thing you need is to increase that fear by not being a confident and comfortable swimmer (you do NOT have to be a FAST swimmer!). Remain calm, don't be afraid to swim breastroke/backstroke, and breathe!
6. You do not NEED a lot of fancy equipment to finish a race
While you may definitely drop a few seconds off your bike split with an aero helmet, or shave a second or two per 100m off your swim time with a fast wetsuit, the reality is none of these are truly necessary to finish a triathlon. A good pair of comfortable swim goggles and trisuit, any bike you have that is SAFE to ride and comfortable (along with a helmet), and a good pair of running shoes are the bare minimum. You can also rent a bike from a local bike shop (we do rentals!) or borrow one from a friend or other athlete if you do not own one yourself.
7. Do NOT try anything new on race day
There is an adage that says if you haven't practiced it in training, you shouldn't be trying it out while racing. Many triathletes train for weeks on end, rest well, prep for their race normally, and then fail to heed the above advice and lose time or not meet their goals when it comes time to perform. Everything from attempting a flying mount or dismount into the transition area for the first time (with embarrassing results), to buying brand new shoes at the expo the day before the race that you find out do not fit properly as you try and put them on in T2. This alone can wreak havoc on even seasoned triathletes.
8. Join a local Tri Club or training group
One of the biggest sources of all information triathlon-related is through your fellow athletes. Joining a triathlon club or group not only gives you access to others (who have all worn the newbie shoes at some point themselves), but also allows you to meet new people and attend group workouts.
9. Have fun!
Above all else enjoy your triathlon experience and remember that in the end you should be enjoying yourself and the athlete camaraderie that comes with racing. As a sport, triathlon itself can be so physically and mentally demanding that you must always remember you’re doing it to have a good time, and compete. You don’t have to stress a lot over your race as you’re not a professional (not yet anyway..), and the only real tangible thing on the line is your Sunday morning. Make the most of it!