The world of triathlons is full of excitement, adventure and reward. Taking part in your first triathlon is a big moment, and it can be a daunting prospect. You probably wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have a few tingling nerves, and in fact this can get the adrenaline pumping and help you to put in your best performance.
It’s still useful to have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve to give you an extra confidence boost on the big day however. Here are some useful points to keep in mind.
Have the right tools for the job
A poor workman blames his tools as they say, but in the case of a triathlon, the right kit can really make a big difference. For example, open water swimming performance can be improved by wearing a well-fitting wetsuit, even if they are not obligatory. They provide extra buoyancy, helping you to maintain a more streamlined position in the water.
The extra support for your body in the water also puts a bit more power in every move that you make, and reduces friction and drag. Ultimately, a good wetsuit acts like a dynamic second skin that will turn you into a sleeker and faster swimmer.
As far as your bike goes, there’s no need to spend thousands of pounds on a state of the art road bike. As long as it’s roadworthy with decent tyres you will have enough to work with. What is important is that it is the right size and fit for you.
It is worth getting a professional to help you adjust the seat and handlebars so that you are in the most comfortable and effective position for a long ride. This will add to your pedal power and also help to guard against strain injuries. A helmet is obligatory for entry to most triathlon cycle races too.
For the running stage, it is essential that you have well fitting running shoes with shock absorbing soles. It is well worth purchasing them from a dedicated running retailer, because they will be able to advise you on the best type of shoe for your running action.
Stick to your training plan
Diving in and hoping for the best is really not the best policy, unless you are already pretty fit and a confident performer across all three disciplines. The best way to feel good about your first triathlon is to put in the right amount of preparation work to build up your fitness, technique, and mental and physical stamina.
Your first event will probably be a sprint triathlon unless you are already superfit. Sprint races involve swimming for 750 metres, a 12.4 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 miles run. This is still a tough challenge and will need at least two or three training sessions per week, for a minimum of half an hour.
As well as making sure you can complete each section over the required distance, it is beneficial to do some strength and conditioning work that will improve your performance across all three stages of the triathlon.
There are plenty of free training plans available online if you need some extra guidance and inspiration. Training with a club or a workout buddy can also give you an extra edge of motivation on rainy days when staying indoors on the comfort of your sofa is the more tempting option!
Think about your diet
Eating a healthy and well balanced diet is recommended at the best of times, but it is even more important when you are placing extra demands on your body.
Ensure that you eat good quality meals that provide a mixture of lean protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and nuts. This will help you to build up muscle mass and provide slow-release energy stores to sustain you through the last few gruelling miles.
Practise the transition stages
Most new competitors don’t give much thought to the transition stages, when you need to change out of your wetsuit and into your cycle gear, and so on. However, being well prepared for them can give you confidence and an extra competitive edge so have a few trial runs at home.
Often, rushing to try and save time can result in the competitor becoming flustered and frustrated. Lay out all your gear in an orderly fashion beforehand, and make sure your allocated changing space is easy to spot from a distance.
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