Is this the summer you try to take on a triathlon?
TriSTEPS : Liz Elliott
Your first triathlon is all about having a good experience. You’ve put in all the training, you are ready physically, now enjoy your special day. You should not expect to do everything right on your first race, so make it fun and memorable.
Here’s a few steps for doing so:
CHOOSING THE FIRST RACE
If this is your first triathlon season, choose a fun race where some of your friends or people you know will also be competing. This will give you something positive and fun to look forward to on race day, and will help lessen your anxiety. You may want to choose a race close to home, so all your friends and family can come watch you, or a race where you have volunteered before. Depending on your budget, you could choose a destination race to create an even better first race experience.
For training purposes, choose a race at least three months before you begin your season, so you have enough time to build a base, train well, and be ready physically.
Goals are important for your training, and your race. Most people think the only goals that exist are time goals, but “” especially for your first race “” how you race and how you feel during and at the end of the race are more important. Just like practices, after each part of the race you should feel like you can do the next part. Your goals will differ based on your race experience, athletic background and how many races are under your belt.
If this is your first triathlon, your goal should be pace well and finish strong. I usually suggest to my first-time racers to build into each section. What that means is to start at 10 percent of your top speed at the beginning of each section, and work up to 80 percent. The better you are at each section, the faster you will reach and hold 80 percent within that part of the race. For example, if the swim is your best piece, you will stay at 10 percent for about 5-10 percent of the swim then climb faster. The bike may not be as strong, so you would stay between 50-60 percent of your top speed and only reach 80-85 percent over the last 10 percent of the segment.
After that race, write a race report. Write down your entire experience, with special note to areas you did well, and areas you could improve.
A race plan is nothing new, it’s what you’ve been doing at every practice. You show up, lay out your equipment, make sure you eat, go for the swim, change clothes, go on the bike, change shoes, then run. It’s that simple. You are prepared physically. Your body knows how and what to do, the race is where you let it do it.
MANAGING RACE ANXIETY
Most triathletes, especially those experiencing their first triathlon, will have some anxiety surrounding preparation. Anxiety is totally normal, even for seasoned racers. It is good to feel some anxiety or nervousness before racing, as that is the juice that gets you going, your adrenaline. But you don’t want anxiety to take you over. If you have followed your training plan and stuck to training patterns, you are prepared and whatever happens is what happens.
FOCUS ON FORM
Correct form in the swim, bike and run is critical to stave off injuries, but also makes it easier too. When you’re the most tired or anxious, focus on your form. When you are tired, or feeling down, your first instinct will be to double-over and walk. Doing the form “” especially during those last few miles of the run “” will give you something on which to focus, as well as give you more air and help you move forward easier than you imagined.
Overall, have a great time! Enjoy your first race, it will only happen once.
Check out this article in the digital edition of SportStars Magazine… Race Ready
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