When I first started racing triathlon I looked to consume as much information as possible in order to expedite the learning curve. But what I found was the same repetitive topics and their obvious responses; bland, boring and more times than not, common sense takes. Here’s my five tips for beginner triathletes, a list that I wish someone would have given me on day 1.
Swimming in a race is nothing like swimming in a pool. One of the biggest mistakes TriBs make is not having the right expectations when it comes to an open water swim (OWS) setting. It’s the only discipline where you’re training 90% of the time in a foreign environment to what you’ll be in on race day. WHACK. During nicer weather months you should take advantage and get to a large body of open water (but if you live in Florida, f**k that).
Tip: Go with a partner if you OWS, safety first.
Focus on your weakness, you’re race is only as strong as your weakest discipline. What do I really mean by this? Get back to basics. Swim, Bike, Run starts with form and the strength + speed will come later. Oh... avoid going 0-100 (in terms of speed and intensity), find your natural stroke, cadence and stride to use as a bench-mark for future improvement.
Tip: Don’t marry your Garmin
Respect the sport and your body. Don’t sign up for a 70.3/ Ironman right outta the gate. Yes, it’s been done before but not recommended. Before my first 70.3 (and around my 30th triathlon) the MC asked the crowd “is anyone racing for the first time?” and to anyone who answered “yes” he responded “you’re stupid!”… That pretty much sums it up; you’re more likely to get injured either long or short term and you’re more susceptible to developing bad habits. Ease in to the sport, start with a sprint or even a 5k, don’t be a hero and have a heart attack because you wanted to rock that 70.3 bumper sticker a year early.
Tip: Spectate a race first.
Triathlon is great at keeping your interest in sport. Start with racing yourself and not the field, work on your personal best (PB) times and don’t get infatuated who else is on the course. HAVING SAID THAT, be realistic - just because you placed in your AG doesn’t mean you had a good race. Consider the weather, course difficulty and competition level when evaluating your performance, don’t live in a fantasy world.
Tip: Easy go2 race goal ———> PR SOMETHING
Leverage social media. I’m NOT saying post pictures of your Garmin after track Tuesday (literally no one cares) rather use it as ‘Triathlon TV’ of sorts. The tri community is small enough - so much info available at the tip of you chlorine soaked fingers (news, race experiences, podcast, blogs, nutrition info etc.).
Tip: Ask people questions, discover brands, connect with like-minded athletes. Block all the weirdos.
*BONUS TIP* There’s a direct relationship between cycling volume & cycling strength (at least at first). More time in the saddle = stronger legs = faster bike splits. IT’S SCIENCE.
This is a list you won’t see in an ink filled magazine or typed on a newsletter peppered with medal mount & body glide ads. Remember, Tri Responsibly. Live Healthy Feel Groovy.