Have you decided to take the plunge and race your first triathlon race this year? If so, good for you! Triathlons are so much fun (and may be a little addictive) but they can also be a little scary/intimidating the first time. Here are five tips to help you have a great experience at your first multisport race!
1. Make a list of everything you need
Running races are pretty straight forward. Just roll out of bed, get dressed, pin on your bib and go! Adding in swimming and biking to the mix means extra gear and more stuff to remember. Think about everything that you’ll need for each sport and write it down (goggles, swim cap, bike helmet, etc). You can also create customized check lists online to make sure you’ve packed all of your gear.
2. Don’t wear underwear
My biggest question when I signed up for my first triathlon was “what should I wear??” You can race in a swimsuit if you really like and then just pull on bike shorts in transition. I find the most comfortable gear to race in is a pair of triathlon shorts though. Tri shorts are basically like bike shorts, except the chamois pad in them is much thinner than on bike shorts. This means the chamois will soak and hold less water on the swim and it won’t feel like you are running in a diaper.
Don’t wear underpants under your tri shorts as that will most likely result in some very uncomfortable chaffing…just go commando. If you don’t want to invest a lot of money in gear that you are worried you may never wear again you can always swim in tri shorts and a sports bra, then pull a t-shirt on in transition.
3. There will be cars on the bike course
It can be very easy to get caught up in race day adrenalin but please remember that there will most likely be cars on the road. Cars being driven by individuals who may not know that a race is going on. Always follow the rules of the road – ride in the shoulder and be sure to shoulder check and make sure it is safe before you attempt to pass anyone. Also be courteous to your fellow racers and call out “on your left” as you pass them. If you get passed by another rider without them announcing it you can get startled and no one wants that to happen.
4. Keep your transition space simple
There will be people that will bring every single piece of gear they own and lay it out in transition. You may see people try to make their bike easy to spot by tying a balloon to the bike rack. Ultimately keep your space simple and clean. Often race directors don’t want you to have balloons up in transition so you’ll need to use a different way to find your bike. Count the number of racks you’ll have to run past or try to find a landmark to remind you of where to go. Have a towel out to dry your feet off (maybe make it a bright one to make it easier to spot). Have your socks ready to go in your shoes. Have your bike helmet resting on your handlebars so that you’ll be reminded that you need to put your helmet on before you take your bike off the rack. The less stuff you have out the smoother you will be able to run through from swim to bike and from bike to run.
5. Have fun
Finally, have fun and enjoy the moment! Smile! Give words of encouragement to people as you pass them or as they pass you. Maybe compliment them on their tri kit. You may just put a smile on someone’s face who is having a tough day. Thank the volunteers because without them the race wouldn’t be possible. And if you are nervous or unsure about anything on race day don’t hesitate to ask the person setting up their bike next to you in transition. We were all nervous tackling our first race and triathletes are honestly a friendly bunch. They won’t mind helping, I promise.
Are you racing your first triathlon this year? Let me know if you have any questions at all!