Now that I have four sprint triathlons under my belt, I am ready to take home the Olympic gold in Rio 2018. (Bahahahaha!) Ok, competitive tris may not be in my future, but more races definitely are.
I am writing this blog post for those of you out there who think, “Hey, if LP can do this, I can too.” You know what? You can! And I bet you can do it better, faster, and more gracefully than I have (all thanks to my super helpful tips.)
1. Focus on Your Worst Sport – I picked up this gem from a tri clinic. If there is one sport your feel uncomfortable with (cycling for me), then spend more of your training time on that sport. Doing this will give you extra confidence during your race.
2. Buy Sweat Wicking Socks – Do you know what makes for an unhappy first time triathlete? Running in saturated cotton socks and getting blisters. Solution? Wear sweat wicking socks designed to let moisture out instead of sponging it all up!
3. Pack Your Bag – You need a ton of shit for a tri. (Just being honest.) So, I recommend making a packing list and gathering everything you need well in advance. You don’t want to get to the race to find out you didn’t remember a change of dry clothes after the race.
4. Diversify Your Training – Some people spend hours every day training for these races. For those of us that don’t have 28 hour days, I suggest one sport a day. One day swim, one day bike, one day run, etc. I also recommend at least one session with weights each week – it will help muscles. There are some newbie-tri training plans out there if you want something with more structure.
5. Embrace the Start – I am learning that there are many ways to start a tri. Pools, beach runs, treading water, pier dives… so many options. Do some research to figure out how your race will start so you can mentally prepare for the upcoming frenzy. (For the Erie race, they didn’t post that information so I stalked past year pictures to learn it was a beach start race.)
6. You Don’t Need a Road/Tri Bike To Complete a Tri– Bikes are the most expensive necessary component of tris. If you are just testing the waters with these race, use whatever bike you have. If all you have is a mountain bike, use that. If it has two wheels, it will get you the distance. Sure road bikes will be faster, but why spend $1500 on a bike if you discover you don’t care for racing?
7. Try a Sprint First – Maybe you are already a stellar athlete and the thought of a mile swim, 26 mike bike, and 10K run doesn’t scare your pants off. To you I still recommend starting with a short distance – not because you can’t do a longer one, but because the transitions are killer.
8. Register for Races Early – If this is going to be your “thing” for the year (some people prefer the term goal), you will need to plan and register early. Many of the larger races sell out months in advance. (In the DMV area, August and September races sold out by April!) Plan ahead so that you have options!
9. Don’t Fear the Wetsuit – I feared the wetsuit, and, as a result I lost round 1. The do make LP-sized wetsuits, so I am sure they make them in your size too. YouTube is helpful for learning how to get one on and off. Plus, at my first wetsuit-wearing tri, there were other newbies trying to get theirs on too – so people will help.
10. Train for Transitions – Swim to Bike takes the longest (for me) because of the wardrobe change. Bike to Run is the hardest (for me) physically because of the sudden shift in muscle groups. I would practice going from a pool to a bike or run, and then again from a bike to a run. Maybe it won’t make the rubber legs issue go away, but it will at least give you an idea how it will feel on race day!
Ready? Go Try a Tri!