Think of your first triathlon, do you ever wish you had known back then what you know now? There’s three sports, umpteen distances and a whole lot of questions. Here’s a compilation of tips and tricks from the experts… And by experts I mean real people like you and me, tri newbies, experienced triathletes with a few races under their belts, Kona finishers oh and an Ultraman Australia female winner… If you’re just starting out, let the learning begin! If you’re an old hand, have a read, even if you don’t learn anything new you yourself, next time someone asks your advice on where to start, here’s a good place!
It’s actually ok to wear Lycra…
Use the knowledge that is out there, 99.9% of ladies in this sport are awesome and will spend time answering questions and helping out…the other .1% pffft.
Be consistent with training.
Have a positive attitude, it creates positive outcomes. The body achieves what the mind believes.
Practice transitions with all of your gear (this came up on nearly everyone’s feedback) transition can be scary! Going through the process step by step to test what layout works best for you before the race will make you more confident/ comfortable on race day. Transitions are also the easiest way to make up time if you aren’t necessarily the fastest in your wave.
Include core work, mobility, stretching and massage to your program.
Learn how to change a tyre at home, and practice over and over till you get it.
Take some swimming lessons, increasing your confidence and efficiency in the water is essential.
Once you’ve got the basics down pat join a swimming squad. You always push harder when racing the person next to you.
Swim in open water, ocean pools and lakes, anything to simulate race day conditions before race day!
Do a warm up swim before the race, no matter what the race distance.
Practice getting out of your wetsuit.
Smile and enjoy every minute, yes even the one where you couldn’t get out of your wetsuit!
Buy some new workout gear. You don’t need to be one of those girls that goes to the hairdresser #inmyactivewear but fresh, fun clothes that you feel great in, might help get you out of the door in the morning.
In saying that you don’t need to buy everything on the market… Triathlon can be a black hole for money; the sperm helmet, ultra-aero time trial bike and $700 wetsuit aren’t necessary (at this stage anyway!) but take the time to research and purchase a couple of quality pieces. A good pair of runners that suit your technique and high quality cycling knicks are a good place to start.
Hang on what are knicks? Knicks are the padded bike shorts you wear whilst riding, and a good pair are a lifesaver.
DO NOT wear underwear under your knicks! No one told me this for a while, but once they did it was life changing.
On that note… Chamois cream is just an expensive gimmick. Lucas paw paw cream, vaseline and bepanthen do the same job.
Always wear gloves when riding… If you have to ask why… You have not come off of your bike… yet.
Obey the road rules on the bike…its just common sense.
Join a local group ride, and pick one that suits your ability. It will push you to go faster and give you more confidence to ride on the road.
Enjoy the process, if you don’t you will leave this sport quicker than drive through at McDonalds.
Join a triathlon club early and take advantage of the beginner
groups/courses, training sessions and support at events. You don’t have to wait until you’re ‘fast enough’ or have done a triathlon. Most clubs are happy to give advice, support and nurture people of all levels and abilities, see point one. Also training on your own is lonely and can be hard to gauge how you are doing.
On race day don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, stick to your own plan. Don’t compare your first race to someone’s 20th race. Everyone was a beginner once – so just have fun.
It’s actually really hard to drink out of a cup on the run. Just saying.
Practice race nutrition… Replicate in training what you plan to do and use on race day.
Always over cater in gels rather than under cater. There are usually a number of poor lost gels on the course, so having extra can’t hurt.
If you live in a hot climate freeze the drink bottle on your bike. By the time you get to it you’ll have a cold drink on a hot day and you will be glad you took this advice.
Copy Santa, write a list and check it twice. The best way to avoid that awful sinking feeling like you have forgotten something is to have a checklist that you can check off when you are getting all your things together the night before and the morning of the race.
Please, please, please don’t worry about weight, race weight, being lean etc. We are all unique and with training your body adapts to what is a good weight for you.
In saying that, you can’t out-train a bad diet. Focus on food as fuel. With an increase in activity, your appetite will increase. Be organised daily so you can continuously refuel without becoming ravenous and reaching for foods that hinder your training. 3pm rolls round… Absolutely starving… Have been awake for 11 hours… Feed me anything and everything covered in chocolate… Sound familiar to anyone else?
Track your progress, whether it’s through a fitness watch/app or good old fashion diary. Do separate swim, bike and run time trials at the start of your training and at intervals throughout. It’s rewarding and exciting to see progress over time.
Love every minute, because triathlon is extraordinary.
Use social media as a tool for support, advice, motivation and tracking your own progress. You don’t need to interrupt your training to take a great photo… But we won’t judge you if you do.
Set a goal. Stick to it.
Make the goal public. Don’t back out. Ever. Public doesn’t have to mean broadcast it to the world, your closest family and friends will do. When you’ve made something public it’s more likely you will stick to it, and their support and encouragement will no doubt help.
Get a coach, there’s a lot of information out there, you’re trying to train for three sports rolled into one. A coach will not only set a program that guides you on your way to success but it also makes you accountable. Listen to the coach, having a program wont help unless you actually do what’s on it.
Have fun. Don’t let the pressure of a set program destroy your passion for the sport. If you sign up for a big event and start training long-term, you’ll have days when your motivation is low. Just remember, this is YOUR DREAM.
Join in as many free groups events as you can, they are fun, stress free and you learn so much from others – park run, bike shop social rides and ocean swim groups.
Support your local bike store, get to know them, ask questions, they love their bikes, trust me they will love to share their knowledge.
If you miss a training session, it’s gone. Move on. Plan your week in advance and stick to it.
Run off the bike. Regularly. On race day your legs will thank you for it. If there’s one session you should never ever miss, it’s a run off the bike after your long ride.
Have some self belief. Know you can do it.
Get a proper bike fit…. Your body will thank you for this.
Nerves are good before a race…we all get nervous…yep even the girl next to you who has been racing for years.
Coffee and cycling are a match made in heaven. And if you’re ever visiting a new town and hunting a good coffee shop, look for where the cyclists go.
Love yourself and how awesome you are for doing this amazing sport. You’ve got this!
Remember that it’s YOUR race….no one knows the journey you’ve been on, so swim it, ride it & run it YOUR way.
Until next time remember, what we learn with pleasure we never forget.
Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to this list, when I got each of your replies they made me smile and remember just how awesome triathletes are, I could relate to them all and I’m sure everyone reading this is the same, so thank you!
Pip Holland, Sarah Sherwood, Jody Gilchrist, Heidi Meyer, Dave Graham, Kate Phillips, Tom Duggan, Sue Hancock, Jo Fahey, Jo Dean, Alex Hall, Helen McCarthy and Jodie Barrett-Lennard.