When it comes to races, we are spoilt for choice here in Ireland - there are triathlons up and down the country in an array of spectacular locations.
If you have decided to dip your toe into the world of triathlon for the very first time this year, you are probably feeling a little nervous about your first race. But don’t worry, the nerves are natural. There are a few little tips however that we wish we had been told before our first race that would have made all the difference. In a bid to prevent you from making the same mistakes as us, here are a few tips to help the big day go that little bit smoother.
1. Get organised
There is nothing worse than disorganisation to add fuel to those pre-race nerves. Before you set off for the race, make sure all of your kit is organised. There is a lot of kit that you need to remember to bring with you so write a list and check every item off it as you pack it.
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Make sure that you have thought through all of the items you will need for each discipline along with any other items you might want at transition such as food, gels, an energy drink and some water.
2. Practice your transitions
Speaking of transition, we reckon it is a really good idea to do a dry run in your back garden before race day. It is good to practice getting out of your wetsuit and into your bike gear and from your bike gear into your run gear. Quick transition times will save valuable minutes across your eventual race time for very little extra effort.
3. Don’t get naked
There is a good chance that you might not have invested in a fancy tri suit for your first race and will therefore have to do a complete change between the swim and the bike. Whatever you do, be sure not to drop that towel. Nudity of any kind at transition, even if it’s accidental, will result in disqualification.
4. Stay calm in the swim
The swim is perhaps the most daunting part of triathlon. There is an element of chaos in the swim section of the triathlon as people try to get ahead of one another. Don’t be afraid to take your time and separate yourself from the pack a little bit. Just find a space of your own and remember that this is your race, forget about everyone else.
5. Don’t forget to sight
Swimming in the open water is very different from the pool. For starters, you don’t have a nice line running underneath you to keep you on track. It is so easy to put your head down and swim on race day but if you don’t keep an eye on those buoys you may just find yourself a good distance off course. Be sure to lift your head and sight every couple of strokes to stay on track.
6. Kick it out
Making the transition from the swim to the bike can be a little disorientating. A lot of people feel a little bit weak at the knees when getting out of the water. You can easily prevent this by kicking your legs a little stronger as you approach the end of the swim which will help to get the blood flowing into your legs again.
7. Lube is your friend
There is nothing worse than getting out of the water and then spending the next ten minutes trying to wriggle out of your wetsuit. But fear not, you can avoid this easily by popping on some lube under your suit. There are loads of brands on the market, TriSlide and Body Glide are both popular options and will have that wetsuit rolling off you in a matter of seconds.
8. Check your bike
Be sure to take your bike for a quick spin before the race to make sure everything is in order. Check the tyre pressure and have a quick glance at the course profile so you can make sure that your bike is in the correct gear as you leave transition. There is nothing worse than hitting a hill right out of transition when you are in a super heavy gear. Also make sure that your helmet is by your bike, you will not be allowed to leave transition without it on your head, buckled up. Also, don’t forget to take it off before you head off on the run. We have spotted a few runners with helmets still on in our time.
9. Elastic laces are awesome
Remember a time when your shoes had Velcro instead of pesky laces and you could just throw on your shoes and belt out of the house to play? Well elastic laces are the legitimate equivalent for grown-ups. Swapping your regular laces for elastic alternatives will not only save you valuable time in transition but will also give you one less thing to think about. Believe us, once you go elastic, you’ll find it hard to go back, they are just so darn handy!
10. Enjoy it
At the end of the day you should really embrace your first race and enjoy it. There will lots of competitors there with very fancy looking bikes and aero helmets but don’t let them put you off. Everyone, at every level, is always very friendly and very welcoming. Embrace the fact that you are doing something completely new, in an incredible location. If you do find nerves getting the better of you just take a breath, enjoy the views and smile.