5 Things I Learned at My First Triathlon

I started moving into the sport of triathlons by going with a mini-triathlon. It was super small, but I had been training so I figured that I would be ready to go.  I was ready, yet I learned some beginner lessons that I want to pass on to you.

By having these tips in your back pocket, you can go into your first triathlon feeling prepared.

 

Breathe

When I exited the swim to get my shoes on, I was unable to tie them.  (If you have velcro shoes awesome, but this was such a smaller sprint course that I opted out of cycling shoes, and just put on running shoes for the bike and run. This is a whole entire other post though!)  My hands were shaking so bad that I didn’t wasn’t able to tie my shoes and added on twenty to thirty seconds having to start the tying over twice.   Whether you are having to

Whether you are having to tie, or merely getting clipped into your helmet, breathe.  Regulating your breathing from the second you exit the water will help stabilize your heart rate and your extremities to get them to cooperate in transition.

 

Focus On Your Knees

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the transition from the bike to the run is one of the hardest parts of the transitions.  Your muscles are still thinking about the cycle motion and are “jolted” at the whole idea of a different pattern to run.  Focus on keeping your knees and feet forward since your legs will feel so heavy.  Focusing on this and watching your pace on a timing device (such as a

Focusing on this and watching your pace on a timing device (such as a Garmin Fenix2 – read the review here), you can work out the heaviness

 

Set Up Your Transition In Order

I knew this going in, but this was a lesson that I really want to express to others as I saw many triathletes piling their equipment in haphazard manners.

5 Things I Learned at My First TriathlonStarting at the edge of your towel where you will walk up to it – place your shoes for the bike – with your socks (if you wear any) folded down on the edges to allow them to easily go on your feet. (If you are going to use bike shoes that velcro, make sure the velcro is open and loose. Don’t forget to open up your socks for the run though!)

I recommend placing your helmet on your shoes so that is the first thing that you do – I was really afraid of being disqualified for not having my helmet snapped so I opted to keep it on my shoes instead of on my handlebars.

Above the shoes I will have my running/race belt ready for the run transition, I could’ve also put it on for the bike but felt it would be a distraction.  In longer runs this race belt will not only hold your number, but can hold gels as well.

 

Wear Sunglasses 

While the triathlon was early in the morning, I didn’t account for kick up of dust and rocks from other cyclists or runners.  Wearing sport sunglasses can save you from the glare, but also prevent irritation of the eyes.

I would place these in my helmet, put them onto my face at T1, and don’t remove them until the end of the race.

 

Out, End and Space

Facing your bike front wheel out is your quickest exit option.  This may not be a big deal for most triathlons that use a long pole for racking – but in smaller triathlons with the bike racks that need more stability two bikes have to face out, and two have to face in. Try getting to transition set up early to be one of the bikes that faces out.

Also, arriving early, to any size triathlon, will allow you to get an end spot that gives you more transition space, less people to trip over, and an easier exit.

Lastly, if you’re allowed, make sure you choose a bike rack space that is closest to the exit and entrance of bikes. This will keep you from having to weave your way through the transition traffic on your way in and out for a quicker transition.

 

Do you have any transition tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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