With the London Triathlon just a couple of weeks away, I thought the most helpful thing I could give you guys, would be some tips on how to perform at your best on the big day. It’s the little things that can make a big difference. Now, not only did I think it would be a good article to write, I thought I’d get my old friend and colleague, Heather Taylor, to write it for me!
Heather is a Physiologist, a Personal Trainer, and perhaps most impressive of all, she’s a GB age-group Duathlete, and currently training for the World Championships in Adelaide later in the year. Heather has used all her experience, and put together her “Top 20 Triathlon Tips for Beginners’ The article is aimed at beginners, but I think all tri-athletes would benefit from reading it. So, without further ado…Over to you Heather…
Up until May this year, I had only ever competed in Duathlons. I have always been worried about my swimming and have a fear of open water (I couldn’t swim more than one length of front crawl last year). I decided that it was time to conquer this fear and in May, I went on a triathlon training holiday, which was great fun. I have since completed 3 triathlons and have been surprised to have been placed in two of them. During my training and competing for these events, I have learnt a few essential tips that I feel would benefit everyone competing in their first triathlon…
Top 20 Tips for Your First Triathlon
1. Practise an open water swim, in a wetsuit, as much as possible before the event, and if you have time, acclimatise in the water (dunk your head under and try and breathe out under water).
2. If you’re not a confident swimmer, there’s nothing wrong with hanging back and waiting for the whirlpool rush to pass, before commencing on a more comfortable swim. You can catch up later in transition or on the bike and run!
3. Make sure you spot in the water, look up regularly to check your heading in the right direction, you don’t want to swim any further than you need too!
4. Practise transitions for at least 30 minutes before the event; you can save minutes on a smooth transition and always make sure you have your helmet on before touching the bike!
5. Look for signs/markers to memorise where you rack your bike, and remember the row number.
6. Take a bright towel to place your trainers on so you can spot them on return from the bike.
7. In the last 100m or so of the swim, think about your upcoming transition, the order of change. Do the same in the last km of your bike leg so you’re ready for the run.
8. Wear goggles under your swim hat, not over; this stops other competitors knocking them off in the scrabble!
9. Spit in your goggles before racing, this stops them fogging up.
10. Apply Vaseline or Swim Glide on your inner wrists, ankles and neck to stop your wetsuit rubbing. Also apply onto the outside of your wetsuit up from your ankles to knees and wrists to elbows to help it easily slide off.
11. As you exit the water, open the neck of your wetsuit to let the water gush out (this makes it easier to take the top half off when running).
12. Don’t dry your feet or bother wearing socks when getting on your bike (though it is tempting!), your feet will dry on the bike (saving a lot of time).
13. Take water on the bike (this may seem simple but I have forgotten this before and forgotten to drink if I have taken it! Dehydration will not only be detrimental for your run, but will also slow down your recovery time after the race). If you have two bottle holders, take an energy drink in the other one, to give you the option on the longer distances.
14. Practise drinking on the bike and how much you drink. I can only sip a small amount regularly or I get a stitch on the run!
15. Use elastic laces, when your adrenaline is high and you’ve leapt off the bike, tying laces is impossible.
16. Use a race belt to attach race numbers. It’s easy to put on in transition and easy to turn round. Wear it so the number is visible on the back for the bike, and then rotate it to the front for the run.
17. The bike to run transition is tough, so it is good to practise this using “brick runs”. Learning to run just after cycling. I do this after a long cycle once a week, you don’t need to run far, 10-15 minutes works as long as you feel your legs come back to you.
18. For the Olympic distance or further, practise nutrition during long training sessions. Everyone’s body is different, some gels work, some may disagree with you, others prefer solid food or sweets. I tend to go for jelly babies as they’re easy to chew.
19. Don’t eat anything different before the race, have your standard pre training breakfast so you know you won’t have any digestive problems.
20. Save some energy for a sprint finish and enjoy the race. Smile at the crowds. This is your day, all the hard work of training is now done!
If you want to find out more about Heather and track her progress to Adelaide, head on over to her blog site http://halftimefit.blogspot.co.uk/ or follow her on Twitter (here). If you can think of any other great tips that others may benefit from, feel free to share them in the comments box below.