Here is a video I did for AskMen.com on some beginner triathlon tips.
Competing in your first triathlon can be an intimidating experience, but there are a few simple things that you can do to minimize the stress and make your first triathlon as enjoyable as possible. I would take credit for coming up with these ideas, but they actually come from a pre-race workshop hosted by an Olympian…it just goes to show that preparation is a social thing, make sure to ask questions of others who have done a race before.
Just Before The Race
Lay out all your triathlon gear in the transition area, make sure that packages for food you will be eating (during the bike or run) are open and accessible so that you don’t have to fumble with packaging. You should put some sort of marker that indicates where your bike is so you can find it easily after the swim as well as take note of the rack your bike is on. You should do a walk through of the entrance/exit points to the transition so that you are familiar, and if you are wearing a wetsuit build in some time to get that sucker on…make sure you have free range of motion in you shoulders…the wetsuit shouldn’t impede your swim.
The swim is often the most feared part of the race for newbies, as many have visions of getting pawed and mauled by other racers and possibly drinking some water in the process. It’s not impossible but it is unlikely that you will win your first race, so rather than charging in to the middle of the pack, it makes more sense to let a lot of the pack go ahead of you. If you can, start far to the outside, away from the frothy madness within. It’s an endurance race after all, and if you are relatively fast, you will begin passing those who flamed out too early, at which point you can cut back in at your leisure. It’s more fun to be the passer than the passee.
Don’t forget to also have a good set of goggles and to show up at the start line with some time to spare. There is nothing worse than scrambling into the water at the last second or swimming half blind.
At the first transition, dry your feet well and make sure to put on your race bib (as you can be DQ’d without it). The first time I did a triathlon on a bike course that comprised multiple laps, I lost count of the lap I was on (yes, really dumb), so either make sure you are checking off laps on your watch lap timer or alternatively, put pieces of tape equal to the number of laps required on the handle bars of your bike and pull off one every time you do a lap. I find the bike is the only leg of the race where it is feasible to eat, so I put an energy chew under each piece of tape as a treat but also to remind myself to eat! Also don’t forget to drink some water, I also find it easier to drink during the bike than the run.
After working hard during the bike, your legs will feel like foreign objects when you start running, so make sure to ease your way into it. I suggest not drinking too much during the run as you can get cramps. Also, don’t forget to smile at the finish line as many races have cameras that catch your agony/relief/joy as you cross the finish line.
These are some of the tips I have…do you have any other tips for beginners that you think would be helpful? Please add them to the comments below.