In triathlon, there is no substitute for consistent training coupled with a good training plan. However the fact that an event involves three disciplines and two transitions also means that there is a lot of ways to improve your race aside from just swimming, cycling and running.
My first two events have been a steep learning curve and I am the type person who is always looking to improve themselves.
Below I have listed a few of the things that I have taken on board by reading, observing and listening to make my experience a little better as a novice triathlete.
Some are more cost effective than others but all worthy of consideration for anyone who is just beginning their foray into the sport.
1 - Use A race belt - Possibly one of the most simple but effective pieces of equipment to have in your artillery. It saves the hassle of pinning a number on a shirt or go through the pain of putting it on after a swim. Not only is it very easy to attach your race number to, but it also is just a simple case of clipping on and away you go. This also gives you the ability to have your race number on the back when you ride and swing it around to the front when you run. A race belt is also one of the cheapest pieces of equipment that you are likely to buy.
2 - Practice your transitions - There is a lot to think about on race day. Many of us do a lot of training in all three disciplines but it can all come undone with a couple of transition mishaps. I like to practice my changes from swim to bike and then bike to run to the point that it becomes second nature. That way, on race day when you arrive at T1 or T2, you know exactly what you have to do and can be in and out of there with a minimum of fuss.
3 - Try a wetsuit - Swimming is often the most revered leg of the triathlon and probably the leg that deters a lot of people from even attempting a triathlon. A wetsuit can be a valuable tool that assists in conserving energy. Not only will it keep you warmer but also provides buoyancy which can make the swim both a little easier and also a little faster. It is not the cheapest of my suggested improvements but definitely one to consider when you have tried most of the others.
4 - Plan your nutrition - Racing anything from sprint distance or above is going to see most novice triathletes out on the course for at least an hour and a half. With nutrition being a vital part of your race, it helps to plan when is the best and most convenient time to have your gel, rehydration or whatever it is that you like to have. It could save you from falling apart later in the event.
5 - Wear triathlon cycling shoes - This is another piece of advice that is not on the cheaper end of the scale but one that will see you in and out of T1 in a flash. The shoes are designed so that they can be pre-clipped into your pedals and only need to be slipped on at the start of the ride. There is plenty of info on YouTube about the best way to secure your shoes and get into them effectively.
6 - Lay your gear out - When you arrive at T1 or T2, the last thing you want to do is find yourself looking for a certain item. When practicing your transitions, work out the best order to lay out your equipment for the easiest possible changes. This is another simple but effective thing that can reduce both time and headache.
There is literally a myriad of ways to improve your racing and to give yourself the best opportunity to set a new PB. None of the suggestions above can substitute for good, old fashioned hard work but they compliment it nicely.
Feel free to add any more advice for prospective triathletes in the comments section below.
Above all, have fun!
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