It might be triathlon offseason, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off training. In fact, now is a great time to make the most of the quieter period and turn your triathlon weaknesses into strengths. Transitions – from swim to bike, and from bike to run – all count towards your overall race time. There are some things you can do months before, days before and hours before a race to help speed up these processes. Here are our top triathlon tips…
Months leading up to race day
The weather might prevent you from getting really stuck into some outside training, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to practice. Use this downtime to practice getting into and out of your wetsuit, shoes and bike helmet. These may seem to be simple actions, but during the stress of race day if you know your way around your kit blindfolded you’ll be much smoother between stages.
Keep your gear in good nick all year round. Replace any shoes with enough lead time before your next triathlon to wear them in (without wearing them out). It might also be a good time to do an audit of your gear and assess whether you need a new, more portable pump, or if you should look at investing in a tri-suit to cover all stages.
A week before race day
Keep a close eye on the weather forecast for your event. A few days in advance, make sure you have the right accessories for the weather conditions you will face: extra sunscreen, goggles and shades for the very bright days or spare cycling gloves for chilly races will make the difference between a good race and a miserable one. Put these into your transition practice routine to make sure you don’t forget them on the day.
Practice laying out your kit and accessing the bits you need in the order you’ll need them on the day. Next, make a checklist of what needs to be packed and assess any spares you may wish to take. For example, nobody wants to get to race day only to put their goggles on and find the strap snaps. You don’t need the kitchen sink, but do make sure you have the essentials plus the essential spares.
Know what kind of fuel you’re going to want for race day, and start to use it well before the event so that you can see if you get along with it. Whether it is gels or bars, each person has his or her preference. Once you’ve found the perfect nutrition for you, make sure you have enough for race day plus a snack for after the event. Pack them where you need them to speed your transitions – add a couple of gel packs into your running shoes so you can pick them up easily, or have them already packed and ready on your bike.
On race day
Get your bike onto the rack nice and early to secure a prime position, and set your transition gear next to it. Be considerate and don’t take up more space than the size of your hand towel, because it will be cramped and other people will be using the rack too. Lay out everything you need in the order you need it. Take note of your station, and add a visual marker to your bike if you can. If not, take note of any landmarks – particularly in relation to the swim/bike/run entrances and exits.
Put some Vaseline on the inside of the legs of your wetsuit, instead of directly on your legs. You will be amazed at how much quicker this can make your transition time, as your sodden suit will slide off with ease after the swim!
Don’t get flustered! Slowing your movements down just a fraction will help you speed up overall, as you are able to get your shoes on without scattering them everywhere, or doing something equally avoidable and potentially time-consuming.
Your next triathlon event may seem to be a little while away yet, but it is worth keeping all of these tips in mind to speed your way through the transitions and knock a couple of precious minutes from your overall time. If you don’t have your next event booked yet, take a look at the Freebird Events calendar to see if one of our upcoming triathlons is suited to you.
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