Getting ready for your first triathlon race? Here is a handy check-list for new triathletes, to make sure you’re ready to perform at your very best on the big day. Good luck!
Set a realistic, achievable goal
It’s good to set your sights high – but for your first triathlon, don’t be over ambitious. Give yourself a motivating goal, and one that you stand a good chance of achieving. It might not sound like a big deal, but having something to aim for – whether it is to swim four lengths without stopping, or get to the next drinks station without walking – can really help you in the long run (quite literally in some cases!). By setting small achievable steps, it can add up to a great big goal, which will not only feel great when you hit it, but may also inspire you to sign up for your next triathlon!
Plan your pre-race preparations
Party invite the night before the race? Left your transport and accommodation plans to the last minute? All of these things are no-nos if you want to compete successfully in triathlon. Making sure you are well rested and fully prepared the night before a race is often the part the gets the most overlooked by regular participants in triathlon. Their training has gone without a hitch and their equipment is all in tip-top shape, but if they haven’t given enough time to get to an event because of traffic, or have stayed at a friend’s on their sofa the night before the race, then all that training and equipment checking has literally gone to waste. Making sure you have all the event details to hand, all your kit, and vitally that you have enough time, gives you the advantage if anything should go wrong!
Check, check and recheck your equipment
It is no good arriving at your first ever triathlon to find that your back tyre has deflated, and you are without a spare tube, tyre levers or a pump! These things have all happened to me, and although I did manage to start the races in each case, it wasn’t the best way to settle the nerves! Even though you may find yourself with quite a lot of equipment in your first ever triathlon, you will soon discover the things that are absolutely essential and the things that are a ‘leave-in-the-car’ kind of item. One thing to consider is that although you might have checked your equipment was all in good condition a few weeks ago, it is not ideal to be packing the car for your first race to find out that your goggles have snapped and the nearest sports shop is closed at 7am on a Sunday morning! Make yourself an essential kit list, then plan and check ahead of time.
Don’t neglect transition practice
Transition – making a smooth changeover from one discipline to the next – is in effect the fourth discipline of triathlon. Successful, experienced triathletes know how important it is to practise transitions – although races may not be won in transition, they certainly can be lost! Having the confidence to practise the wobbly-legged run after a hard effort on the bike will undoubtedly pay dividends on race day. If you are able to practise with a few others, or set up somewhere accessible in your home/garage/garden, it will boost your confidence for race day. Knowing which pieces of equipment you will need to pick up, practising putting on your running shoes, racking and unracking your bike – even knowing how to spot your bike when it is amongst hundreds of others – will definitely be preparation time well spent.
- Transitioning is in effect the fourth discipline of Triathlon!
Practise your finish line smile!
Remember why you are doing the event and what you will have achieved, and I am certain you will have a huge smile plastered all over your face when you cross that finishing line! No matter the pain during the race, nothing can top that feeling when you cross the line, knowing you’ve done it! It is that surge of adrenaline as you approach the finish that will give you the best, higher-than-high feeling that will make you want to come back for more.
Good luck with your next triathlon!