Five common first triathlon mistakes and how to avoid them

Sundowner Sprint Triathlon

If you’ve decided that 2017 is the year that you’ll compete at your first ever triathlon, you may already feel a sense of giddy excitement (not to mention a buzz of nerves) at the very thought of it. Even if you’ve perfectly executed an effective training plan across the past 12 months, there’s no replacement for experiencing the competitive atmosphere of your very first triathlon.During the race, it’s not only your fitness that comes into play, but also your attitude, determination and even your navigation skills. You’ll learn a lot from your triathlon debut. We all make the odd mistake during our first race, but there are some common first triathlon mistakes that you should anticipate and prepare for – and hopefully avoid…

#1: Setting out too quickly

The nerves and the excitement can often get the better of triathlon newbies. You’ll most likely be surrounded by more experienced athletes – so don’t be tempted to try and match their pace in the swim and opening bike section, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to maintain it. Concentrate on your own performance, and don’t fret about where you finish during your first race.

#2: Wetsuit troubles

If your triathlon features an open-water swim, you’ll probably be required to wear a wetsuit. Novice triathletes may have trouble putting a wetsuit on properly – let alone taking it off. Ask a friend to help you practice these two tricky and time-consuming processes prior to the event. Watch YouTube tutorials to ensure you’re putting the wetsuit on correctly. At longer triathlon events, there may be wetsuit strippers (yes, really) on hand to help you remove your suit quickly during transition.

#3: Changing your routine

Race day is not a good time to try out new shoes or a new nutrition plan. Use the gear that you’re already familiar with, and stick with hydration and nutrition plans that you’ve trained with. Even a seemingly small change to your routine could lead to big problems, and a disappointingly poor performance – not to mention a less than pleasant memory of your first triathlon.

#4: Losing your bike

It’s vital to remember that the clock is still ticking during the transition. Hopefully you’ll have practiced your transition technique dozens of times in the past, but there’s one rookie error that could make all your transition training worthless – failing to locate your gear. All triathletes have nightmares about entering the transition area and being unable to find their bike and equipment. To prevent this from becoming a reality, take some time prior to the race to establish where your bike will be – and, most importantly, its location relative to the transition entrances and exits.

#5: Messing up your sleep patterns

It’s only natural to be incredibly nervous the night before a race, and even the best triathletes expect a poor night’s sleep. Your body can cope with night of little sleep, but it’s vital that you sleep well in the few days prior. If you want to take sleep aids to ensure you get your eight hours in, don’t leave it until the night before the race, as it might make you feel groggy the next day. If you’re really worried about getting enough rest in before race day, take a sleep aid two nights before race day.

Interested in taking part in a triathlon in Yorkshire or the North of England? Take a look at what Freebird has planned for 2017.