Embrace Triathlon- Our 10 commandments for success this season
1. Get in the open water- yes, it can sometime be a bit a weedy and a bit smelly with rumors of giant fish and suspicious bubbles coming up to the surface- but you need to practice sighting (pointing in the right direction) and swimming in a suit. When you lift your head up your hips drop slightly to counterbalance. The good news is the buoyancy of the suit helps you out. Lets hope this hot weather doesn’t result in a non wetsuit swim- wearing a float is definitely a performance enhancing aid
2. Don’t worry if you miss a breath. This advice was given to me when I completed my first ever sea swim triathlon at Weymouth. There were some serious waves and I felt a bit panicked at times when I looked up to sight the buoys and got a mouthful of water. The key is to relax and wait for the next opportunity. Also get some anti mist spray for your goggles- this is a game changer.
3. Draft on the swim but not on the bike. It is great to get on someone’s feet in the water, who can show you the way without expending extra energy sighting. Obviously in the bike section this is illegal and you may get disqualified, or worse crash. Also take those slippery corners slowly- I have seen so many people crash in those first couple of corners of the bike course.
4. Visualize- There is a lot of evidence in the sports psychology literature for mentally rehearsing the race before it happens. Transition in particular is a great area to run through in your head a few times before the race. Imagine where your bike is, what equipment do you need and in what order. You can also think about how you will feel at different points in the race and what obstacles you might face and how you will overcome them. This is a really powerful tool- if anything unforeseen does come up- then you already know what to do.
5. Do one brick session of week- running off the bike takes a bit of getting use to- your legs feel like jelly and after whizzing around at 17mph+ (or whatever speed) you feel super slow. Don’t worry about running hard off the bike, focus on form and know that the end is in sight- no potential bike mechanicals, crashes or problems getting out your wetsuit to contend with now
6. Don’t feel under pressure to tape a heap of gels to your bike or racebelt, or try anything “different” that might be offered to you at aid stations. Red bull, sweet sugary sports drinks and gloopy gels might be tolerated by some athletes, but not all. If you are going to experiment with nutrition do it in training, no during a race- you want to avoid those revolting portaloos if possible, or diving in a prickly hedgerow. Drink water, but not too much- see our marathon hydration blog.
7. Think about some mental strategies you can use when the going gets tough. I use every mile or km marker to think about three things that are good about that moment- whether it be family supporting, the beautiful scenery or how much of the distance you have already covered. Positive reinforcement really helps keep those daemons at bay
8. If you want any merchandise to remember all the hours of training you have put in and ultimately your expected crossing of the finish line- get there early- especially if it is an Ironman event- all the good stuff sells fast!
9. Get any niggles or injuries checked out ASAP. Triathlon involves a lot of repetitive loading in all three disciplines- this often does not enable as much recovery time as would be optimal. Overuse injuries are common- especially of the shoulders, knees and achillies. It is important to determine what is causing these issues (biomechanics, training loads, energy availability etc) to prevent them becoming a persistent and worsening problem. There is a great Physio Clinic in Hillesden with a special interest in Triathlon who can help you out- book online at embracetherapies.co.uk
10. Enjoy the event. Triathlon is a fantastic sport that enables you race in some very beautiful places. The crowds are fantastic and you get huge bagging rights as someone who trains in not just one sport, but all three.