Congratulations! You decided to try yourself in triathlon. It’s a serious decision worth of respect. To make your first triathlon start successful, we will share 11 simple and helpful tips for your race day.
Triathlon race day tips
- Get fueled! 24 hours before the competition, you should start eating in a special way to have enough energy for the upcoming physical exertion. This doesn’t mean you should eat more than usual, but you need to pay special attention to your diet. Experienced triathletes advise NOT to exclude protein from your diet before the race. Fish, chicken, beans, beef, turkey and other foods rich in protein should be included in your menu before the start. In addition, the last meal on the day before the race should be eaten about 10 hours before the start of the competition. As far as drinking regime is concerned: drink water as usual, only when you are thirsty.
- Let your race day begin 2.5-3 hours before the start! Breakfast should consist of 25-30% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 20% fat. If you have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract (GIT), you should still consume at least 120 calories. The blood sugar level is low after sleep. Glucose is the main source of energy at the start. Do not neglect your morning meal to replenish these supplies. Fermented dairy products are not recommended for people with sensitive digestive tract. Also avoid fatty foods in your morning menu.
- Do not overconsume fluids before and during the start. The key thing: drink only when you feel thirsty. You can drink a bit of isotonic or eat a sports gel, but not earlier than 8 minutes before the start of the race. If you are prone to increased sweating, you can drink 300-400 ml (10-14 oz.) of fluid before you start, but also minimum 8 minutes before the start.
- Carefully study the map of the transit zones. It is recommended that you take this route several times and study the transit zones, as well as placement of your bicycle in the first transit zone. This will save a considerable amount of time on changing activities.
- Rehearse in your mind the order of actions in the transit zones. Passing transit zones and overall result depend on your clear sequence of actions. Besides it significantly affects the overall psychological mood during the race. Make sure that the bicycle is on low gear. This will ensure steady and quiet start of the bicycle stage. Top gear will lead to a sharp heart rate increase at the start of the stage. It can affect the overall condition and increase fatigue.
- Prepare for the water stage and spend it easily. Analyze turns from the shore. If possible, compare them, with landmarks on the shore. Identify places on the route where the sun will make your navigation complicated. If possible, it is desirable that you swim the water stage route in advance at the same time of day. At the very beginning of the swimming stage, take a few slow deep breaths. Avoid short and panic breaths.
- Don’t skip the the warm-up before the triathlon start. This can be done 8 to 20 minutes before the start in the water of make a 4-8 km (2.5-5 miles) warm-um on a bicycle taking it from the transit zone. Or do some exercises to warm up the muscles. In cool and windy weather, prefer heat-retaining clothing, that can be removed immediately before the start.
- Avoid eating in the first transit. Wait for 8 to 15 minutes after the water stage, before you start eating and drinking. This will help avoid unwanted effects from the gastrointestinal tract. The heart rate should increase and then stabilize to your “working” mark. At competitions it is desirable to use only those sports nutrition and drinks that you have tested during your training. One of the common mistakes of triathletes is consuming more food and liquid that necessary. It is better to split food and drinks: smaller portions, smaller sips, but make them regularly.
- Start and pass he triathlon bicycle stage smartly. As already mentioned, at the start of the stage your bike should be in low gear. The start (especially for beginners) should be slow and gradual. Check how many times the right foot passes the lower position – the recommended result is 22-24 times every 15 seconds. If you feel comfortable, then on a flat stretch of the track on the 30th minute of the bicycle stage, you can stretch the hamstrings by getting up from your bike and slightly leaning forward. It is not recommended to drink during the last 10 minutes of the bicycle stage. In the second transit zone, do not rush, it can also be wet and slippery.
- Do not eat anything in the second transit zone. It is necessary to give your body time to adapt to the next kind of exercise before eating. Wait for 6-10 minutes, and then you can drink to quench your thirst. Drink 30 to 100 ml (1-4 oz.) of liquid every 8-12 minutes.
- Finish the race in a steady pace. Perhaps you will want to make up for the time in the running phase. If you feel internal reserves – give it a try. Even if you are very tired after the previous stages, do not slouch, straighten up, do not squeeze the chest with your hands, help them to increase the running speed. You should be proud of yourself, because you are finishing your first triathlon!