Practise your transitions! Before race day, it’s really important to practise transitions. That could be simply setting up your equipment in your garden/living room and “pretending” to come in and out of transitions…Or you can go one step further and include a mini swim/bike/run practise using all the equipment you will use and wear on the day.
Recce recce recce
A recce of the race course can make a huge difference. Where possible, drive, ride, run, even swim the course you hope to race.
Some knowledge of your triathlon course will eliminate some elements of surprise on race day. It will give you the confidence to race hard, anticipate any tricky spots on the course, or even nice sections where you plan to push on. If you have an idea of the route in your head from both studying the map and practising the course, navigation shouldn’t be a stress factor on race day.
Race Day Nerves
It’s really normal to feel nervous on race day morning. The trick is to use that nervous energy in a positive way. Try to think of your nerves as a result of the excitement of race day and your opportunity to put all of your preparation into action. Try not to let your nerves drag you down any negative trains of thought. Don’t start comparing yourself to others and questioning yourself because other competitors look the part or have the gear. Take some deep breaths, be thankful for the opportunity to race and remember, once you get going, those nerves often dissipate and are replaced by the desire to race.
Avoiding Race Day Chafe
Chafing in a triathlon will probably have happened at some point to every triathlete, but is also easily avoidable if you know how.
– Wear clothing that fits
– Good bike fit
– Don’t use new trainers on race day
– Vaseline for the body (anywhere that rubs)
– Talcum powder for shoes
– Baby oil around neck line, wrists and ankles of wetsuit
It’s no secret that aerodynamics offer “free speed”, but have you considered all the different ways you can become more aero…
Here are a few examples:
– Your bike fit (position)
– Bike wheels
– Bike brakes
– Bike shoes
– Toe or shoe covers
– Calf guards
– Not wearing a watch
– Shaved legs and arms
Laces or Elastic Laces
Laces or elastic laces… what are the benefits and when should you use them? Benefits are simple, laces offer stability and support. Compared to elastic laces offering speed in transition.
As a coach I often see triathletes leave their elastic laces in all year round, which should be a big no no. To avoid injury in training and long distance races, I would recommend using laces. When it comes to short distance races, I recommend elastic laces for speed in transition.
– Sprint tri
– Olympic tri
– Transition training
– Middle distance tri
– Long distance tri
– All running training
Open Water Swimming
So many of us are guilty of entering a triathlon with an open water swim and doing 95% of our swim training in a swimming pool (myself included). But guess what… swimming in a pool is very different to swimming open water.
With factors like currents, weather and visability to adjust to in the open water, it is crucial that you include open water swimming in your training. This way you won’t get a huge shock when it comes to race day.
Practicing skills like ‘sighting’ is going to be hugely beneficial to ensure you stay on course and don’t end up swimming an extra 100/200/500m.
If you find open water swimming daunting, I recommend finding a buddy or club to join. Alternatively, you can swim parallel to the shore, so you can get on dry land easily when needed.
A brick workout consists of doing two workouts back to back. Such as a bike to run or a swim to bike. As a triathlete this is hugely important for us to practice as it replicates what we will be doing on race day. It’s also good for none triathletes who are looking for a more demanding workout to increase their calorie burn.
So why do we do it? Often when we stop biking and start running, our legs will feel heavy. This is a sensation you need to come accustomed to prior to race day. It may feel weird/ challenging at first but once you get into your rhythm, you will soon get back to your regular running style. Generally when swapping from one discipline to the other, your heart rate will be elevated, so it’s important you learn how to manage this through appropriate pacing.
Train in aero position
Its no secret that if you ride in aero position, you go faster. Which is why when it comes to race day, this is how we aim to ride.
However, how long do you actually spend in aero position in training? 50%, 25%, less? This is an area that is commonly overlooked or avoided because its uncomfortable. But like anything, if you don’t train it, you won’t improve it.
It’s also important to note that if you work off power, your FTP in aero position will be most likely be lower than your usual FTP. So it’s recommended to do an FTP test in aero position, so you know your correct training zones.
Mind and Body
As triathletes, we are happy to spend 10/ 20/ 30 hours a week training our bodies but how much time do you spend training your mind?
What I recommend is to take some time to prepare yourself for possible scenarios that may happen in training or on race day. Whether you’re struggling with motivation, your nutrition plan has gone wrong, you’ve had a mechanical, etc. In difficult situations it’s easy to give up. But if we are prepared for it, nothing can stop you.
Preparation can come in the form of mantras, positive affirmations, visualisation techniques or just reminding yourself of your overall goal.
If you have these prepared and practiced, then your mind is ready and your body will do the rest!
Have a Nutrition Plan
Having a nutrition plan that is personalised to you is the difference between getting a personal best or even finishing your workout/ race.
Yes, there are guidelines out there on how many carbs, fats and protein you should be having. But these are just guidelines as we are all individuals and respond to food in different ways, when we are working at different intensities.
So the best piece of advice I could give you, would be to take the guidelines and tweak them to suit you. Use trial and error in your training, so when it comes to race day, you know exactly what works well for you. Then go out there and get a personal best!
Run Slow to Run Fast
This is probably the most well known piece of advice to give a runner/ triathlete, but also the most ignored piece of advice.
It is also one of the most valuable lessons you should learn early in your training journey.
So why do we run slow to run fast? There are two major reasons. Running slow (or in a low heart rate zone) significantly increases your aerobic fitness, which builds a platform to allow you to run at higher intensities later. By running slower, this has a lower impact on the body, which helps you avoid injury and allows you to run more consistently throughout the year!
Don’t Over- analyse
We live in a world of data. Apps to track everything from your fitness levels to your sleep patterns.
Now while these apps can be very useful to give insights on your health and performance, its important to remember they cannot account for every variable in your life.
So the important thing to do is to avoid over analysing every aspect of your life. Don’t live your life by what an app tells you to do or where you are at. The best judge of your own health and performance is always going to be your own self perception.
Listen to Your Body
Often as athletes, the thought of taking a day or two off training comes with an element of guilt and it shouldn’t.
It is really important to listen to your body when it comes to training. If you are feeling over fatigued, sick, have a slight niggle or tightness, then that is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. It is better to take a couple of days off rather than a prolonged period because you have pushed yourself too far.
Its OK, take a day or two off, until you are back to strength and then get back on plan.
Managing Swim Expectations
Many of us will be jumping back in the pool after an extended period of time and it is important to manage our expectations. We can’t expect to jump straight back in and kick off where we left off. We have to expect that we are going to be a little rusty on technique, a little slower with our speed and perhaps a little lacking in our swimming stamina. But that’s ok. Many of us are in the same boat so …Just. Don’t. Panic. Your first session back, try not to focus too much on data and just get a feel for the water. Appreciate the sensation of finally being able to swim again. Trust that you will make progress again and you will become conditioned again. Take it one session at a time and hold on to the little improvements and just the joy of returning to the water.
Practise your transitions in training so when you come to race day you won’t make any silly errors. Get it right from setting up your transition area in an organised manner to visualising the order you are going to do things. Think about what you need from swim to bike then bike to run. Small details can save you seconds…even minutes if you receive a penalty or forget crucial nutrition.
It is often the overlooked 4th discipline in triathlon. Training with the same nutrition that you plan to use on race day is crucial for success. Never wing it with nutrition, or GI distress could ruin all your hard work and progress in training. Practise your nutrition strategy with the same care you give to all aspects of triathlon.
It’s every triathletes’ worst nightmare to get a flat during a race. It is a good idea to learn as much as you can about bike mechanics in case things go wrong. However, it’s absolutely crucial to practise changing your tyres. If you have done it successfully in practise then you won’t feel so stressed on race day should punctures occur.
Don’t be fooled by others’ posts on Strava/Zwift/social media and try to smash a PB every session. You do you. A good training plan should be a balance of high and low intensity. Most people just don’t post their easy bikes, runs and swims…but it doesn’t make them any less important!
Prepare the night before. Whether it’s race day, a big training day or just a regular training day, it is always best to plan ahead. Our Tri2 tip would be to organise yourself the night before:
Equipment – Is everything charged, pumped, working?
Clothing – Will you be warm or cool enough?
Nutrition – Do you have enough fuel to get through your race or training?
Race or Training Plan – Familiarise yourself with your plan
By preparing in advance, you save yourself any unneeded stress on the day.