Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Tri? No Prob! What You Need to Know

To TRI or not to TRI, that is the question…

Like with trying anything new, nerves and ill-preparedness can get the best of you. Particularly with triathlons, half the battle is being a well-oiled machine. Without a distinct amount of organization, things can go horribly wrong, and out-the-window goes that new PR, beating that arch-nemesis, and/or most importantly, forgetting the initial reason any of us are out here – for fun!

There are numerous facets involved in this “well-oiled machine”. First - Equipment. A racer doesn’t need the latest and greatest to get the job done. Unless you have the means or are vying for a world championship, a functioning pair of goggles, a bike with gears and two wheels (pumped up of course!) and a pair of shoes without holes will suffice! One tri-tip is quick-laces. Being able to slide your shoes on without having to tie them will save you 15-20 seconds easy. That could be the difference between you and the podium!

Second – Nutrition. This plays a major role in one’s success on race day. It’s important to dial down what works best before and during the race. By testing out various meals/drinks/gels/shot blox during training, one can avoid nutritional catastrophes on race day. NO ONE likes to BONK! I tend to find muffins and bagels work well before the race, although some people prefer oatmeal. Another secret trick is a tablespoon or two of peanut butter. That type of fat is the immediate energy and fuel one needs to be able to strive a little further. Also, extra hydrating with water or (Zico Coconut water if you want REAL results) the few days leading up to the race will go a long way in making sure your body is sufficient in hydration.

Third – Knick-knacks. While these may also fall under equipment, these embody the grease that keeps your machine from squeaking! BODY GLIDE. Arguably the most important piece in my tri bag. Don’t be shy with this stuff either! Cake it on as you see fit and then a little more just to be safe. Chaffing is a triathlete’s worst enemy!

CHALK. Often times, transition areas are located in a parking lot. When your #1183 and positioned in the middle of 100 rows of racks, it can be impossible to find your stuff. Use the chalk to make an “X” in front of your area and then a large arrow at the end of your row, pointing at your “X”. That way, when you come running down the aisle, spotting that arrow and then that “X” will be a lot easier than trying to spot your bike or shoes! BRIGHT-COLORED TOWEL. In the same way that chalk helps identify your transition area on the pavement, a bright-colored towel can do that in a transition area that’s found in a grassy field for example. Personally, I dawn a bright pink and white striped beach towel that I lay out underneath my shoes and bike. Hard to miss that pink!

Fourth – Visualization. I find that rehearsing race day in its entirety the night before puts my mind at ease. It’s almost like I’ve already completed the race. A certain familiarity, even if it’s in your head, goes a long way. Plans can go awry, but if you’ve rehearsed the key components – i.e. T1 T2, specific turn-around’s in the course, places for a reprieve – then nothing will come as an incredible surprise on race day.

Lastly, the most important thing to remember as you toe that start line is the reason you’re doing this in the first place. For fun! Maybe you’ve trained hard and are gunning for that PR or the person that always beats you, but in the end it’s an invaluable life experience and you need not take it for granted. It’s a real privilege to be able to do the things we do and it doesn’t hurt to step back every once in a while and reflect on this opportunity. With that, I leave you with a few TRIcks of the trade and hope your first tri experience is as fun and rewarding as it was for me. CAUTION: May be habit forming! Let’s get into it!

Hasta Luego!


1 comment:

  1. I like 'em all and I'd add PACING - start in control and finish faster. That's a tall order for so many who are just loaded with excitement when the gun fires.