|This dude will be racing IMMT this August, way to go Jon!|
time that I get back in the saddle and start writing again.
I have a few friends who will be racing their first triathlons in about two weeks. It being that time of year, I can only imagine that there are many other people out there getting set for their first triathlon. So I've got a few pointers for the first timer's out there that will hopefully help you when you get to the start line.
- Practice your transitions- Being organized and efficient in your transitions can net you valuable minutes that you would spend hours chasing in training. In a field of one or two thousand at an Ironman, wasting a just 5 or 10 minutes in the transition area can cost you dozens of places. Likewise, in a sprint triathlon with a field of one or two hundred, 10 minutes can easily add up to 10% of your entire race and again cost you valuable spots that you've worked hard to chase. A few days before the race, dress how you would getting out of the water and practice setting up your transition area and go through your swim-bike, and bike-run for just half an hour and you'll give yourself that small edge over the competition.
- Show up early- Between finding parking, hauling your bike out of the trunk, checking in and getting body marked, setting up your transition area, getting changed into your swimsuit, saying hello to your friends, and getting warmed up, its easy to realize that showing up an hour early might not quite cut it. Give yourself at least an hour and a half at the race start to get settled in. There's nothing worse than starting a race that you've prepared for weeks (or months) feeling rushed.
- Mind what you eat before the race- Generally a few days before the race I'll start cutting out things like bran muffins and Thai Express. You probably don't need last night's butter chicken in your stomach before your go swim, followed by a bike, followed by a run. At the spring distance there isn't a whole lot of need to be too regimented about your diet. Instead make sure you keep hydrated and keep a water bottle with you the few days before the race. If you want to carb load, I'd actually advise having that big pasta dinner two nights before the race so you're not feeling heavy the morning of. Otherwise, simply eat what you're comfortable with and what you know sits well.
- Mind what you eat during the race- Again, stick with what you're comfortable with. Pre race I typically don't have a whole lot for breakfast, usually just an Ensure and a banana right when I wake up. During a sprint triathlon there isn't a whole lot of need for refuelling, but if you've got a gel or energy gum that you take on runs, go ahead and use it here. In a sprint, about midway through the bike is generally the best time to refuel and hydrate. Have a sip of drink every 10 minutes or so on the bike, and take your gel midway through the ride, not too close to the swim, and not too close to the run.
- Confidence- If you're properly prepared, you've swam the distance, biked the distance, and ran the distance. There is no doubt that you can do it, you might have to do it a little slower, or maybe you'll be able to do it even faster, but you can finish the race. In the days leading up to the race close your eyes and simply visualize going through each specific part of the race, the swim, T1, the bike, T2, the run, and most importantly the finish. You've got this.
- Have fun- The cool thing about triathlon is that to finish is to win. In the minutes before the race you'll probably be pissing yourself nervous (it's okay though because you're in a pool or a lake), but just take that moment to be grateful for being blessed and able to go out and rock at not just one but three sports. Thank the volunteers with big smiles and waves, and share some words of encouragement for your fellow racers. And remember to smile and do something stupid for the camera as your cross the finish line :)
If you have any questions or any blog posts you'd like to see up, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @raflopez.