If all the talk about the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth has you vowing to enter your first triathlon soon, you’ll want to prepare properly.
There’s a good reason that triathlons are considered some of the most taxing forms of competitive sport out there, but with adequate planning, there’s no reason why you can’t complete your first triathlon with great success.
Fuel your body the day before the race
Pay attention to what you eat the day before the race. Include protein in every meal, and make sure that it outweighs refined grains, sugary drinks and sweets. Try to have your pre-race dinner 10 hours before having your pre-race breakfast.
As always, breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Your pre-race breakfast should consist of 50 percent carbs, 25 to 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat. Try to have breakfast two-and-a-half to three hours before the race starts.
Get a feel for the transition area
Take note of the entrance from the swim in relation to the isle you’re placed in, and make sure where the bike out and bike in are, as well as where the run out is. Understanding your surroundings and all the different transition areas will save a lot of time. Mentally go through the motions before the race.
Don’t neglect the warm-up
Getting your heart rate up to the aerobic zone (which is between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate) 8 to 20 minutes before the race is very important. Don’t just stand around while waiting for the race to start.
Prepare for the swim
If you can, swim the course before the race to get an idea of the turns. During the race, keep your eye on the sky when you inhale – this has a calming effect – and watch the bubbles as they come out on the exhale. Avoid vertigo when getting out of the water by standing up slowly, with your hands on your knees for extra stability and your eyes down, then look towards the horizon and start walking.
Eating and drinking during the race
The golden rule of triathlon is to steadily consume smaller quantities of food as you go, while sipping fluids roughly every 8 minutes. Avoid eating during the first and second transitions, and wait between 6 and 15 minutes after a transition before eating something, to give your body a chance to adjust to the next activity.
On your bike
Put your bike in a gear that is easy and comfortable when you head out of transition 1. This should be between 84 and 92 revolutions per minute if you’re a beginner, or roughly between 22 and 24 revolutions every 15 seconds.
Once you’ve reached this part of the race, the finish line is almost in sight. Take care to not slouch and move your arms to bring up your leg speed.
Ask any triathlete about the euphoria the feel after a race, and they’ll say that this is what makes it all worth it. Once you’ve experienced that feeling for the first time, say many triathletes, you’re sure to be hooked for life. Good luck!