Triathlons: It's Race Day, Be Prepared
A triathlon is a multi-skill sport involving swimming, cycling, then running. Obviously it is harder than any of the 3 events done independently and to succeed in a triathlon you need to be able to compete in all 3 events. The distances can vary from what's called a spring triathlon to an Ironman. Sprint distances are usually 0.75 km swim, 10 km ride, and 7.5 ride while an Ironman is a 4 km swim, 180 km ride, and 42 km run.
If you are looking into doing your first triathlon you need to start training well before the event with an emphasis on the area in which you are weakest.
- Arrive early so you have adequate time to sign in and set up.
- In the transition area you will set up your cycling and running equipment in such a way so as to speed things up when getting ready for the next part of the race.
- The swim is usually a loop (out and back). Some people wear a wet suit, which is allowed if the water temperature is below a certain temperature. Note that hand paddles, flippers, flotation devices are not permitted. Bathing caps are usually supplied by the host. If you are not a fast swimmer you might want to stay a bit at the back so you don't get trampled.
- Cycling follows the swim. Before getting on your bike dry off as you may get cold from the wind. Some find the transition difficult so start slow. The ride is a loop and it makes sense to go to the race site in advance to check the route. If there are hills involved you need to know before the race day.
- Running is much different than cycling so your legs may feel a bit funny or stiff right after the ride. Start slow and pace yourself, especially in a long race. Drink fluids along the way and if it's a long race have some snacks. Many races are won or lost in the run. A strong runner who has fallen behind in the swim or bike events can make up a lot of time and pull ahead during the run.
Whether first or last, be sure to enjoy your accomplishment, you deserve it.
Things to keep in mind:
- Sign up early, sometimes you get a discount for doing so.
- Check the rules before hand, e.g. bike and helmet requirements.
- Make sure your bike is in good working order and take necessary repair tools with you especially for flats.
- Drink continuously and have light snacks.
- Races usually start early in the day so some people arrive the night before and stay in a hotel or camp. This makes things less stressful on the race day.