So you’ve decided to enter a triathlon. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned triathlete, it’s always good to keep away from common mistakes that might cause you to miss out on your goal of finishing with a PB.
Here are five common mistakes triathletes often make:
Preparing for the actual race day is mentally tough. The pressure shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not familiarise yourself with the “battlefield”. Knowing what sort of terrain you’ll be running or biking on, where your bike and bike rack will be, where you’ll start your swim, and at what stage you’ll pick up or drop your bike, are just some of the key points you need to know by heart.
Understanding how the race track is set up will help you with smoother transitions. You can get this information from volunteers and race maps. It is also good to go through the different areas for the different legs of the race physically as well as mentally, noting the transition areas, maybe a day or two before the actual event.
Have you had your bike and gear checked to make sure every element is working properly? Did you pack an extra strap for your goggles in case the one you’ve got snaps? Have you remembered to pack sunscreen or your race day singlet? By preparing the right gear beforehand, you can keep yourself mentally focused on finishing the actual race. No more losing precious race time by looking for misplaced or forgotten gear.
Gear functioning optimally and packed: check!
Ipod packed: check!
Race day comes and you put on your favourite cycling and running music tracks that pumps you up, only to find out you’ve been penalised for going against the rules. Ignorance is not bliss, especially after the time and effort you’ve placed into preparing for a triathlon.
Know which rules apply to events included in the race day. Guidelines and rulebooks or summaries are always available, so don’t forget to read them.
You’ve mentally and physically gone through the track course and transition areas, you know about rules, and your gear is in top form and ready. But all this is spoiled because you forgot to allow enough time for road traffic while travelling to the race venue.
Just like keeping tabs on time while training for different legs of the race, you should plan to arrive well before the start time on race day. Here’s a good tip: Pack your gear a day earlier or the night previous to race day so it’ll be easier for you to travel and arrive on time. You might gain yourself a few minutes to go to the toilet or just to mentally prepare before the starting horn.
Triathletes trying something new and not sticking to the race plan can mean a disaster waiting to happen. Using new gear you haven’t tested or trained in yet (e.g. shoes, bike, wetsuits, sports drink, or energy bars) may leave you blistered, sprained, chaffed, or with an upset stomach – everything you wouldn’t want on race day.
A good tip is to know ahead what free food or drinks the race venue will be providing and testing it out for yourself during training. This way, if you need extra nutritional energy, you’re well aware of how your body will react to the food or drink on offer.
It’s also important to start easy and keep to your planned race pace. Don’t overdo training by sneaking in unplanned extra workouts. Allow your body time to recover in between training sessions. When you’ve successfully crossed the finish line, your mind and body will be thankful you’ve stuck to your plan.