New to Tri?

Completely new to triathlon? Don’t worry, below are some handy tips and information that can help you on your triathlon journey!

What do all the different distances represent?

There tend to be 5 main distances in triathlon and they are as follows:

  1. Super Sprint – 200m-400m (pool) swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run
  2. Sprint – 400m (pool) or 750m (open water) swim, 20k bike, 5k run
  3. Standard/Olympic – 1500m (open water) swim, 40k bike, 10k run
  4. Middle/Half-Iron – 1900m (open water) swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run
  5. Long/Iron – 3800m (open water) swim, 180k bike, 42.2k run

Distances can vary slightly but that depends on the course/location of the event.

What sort of equipment do I need to get started?

Swim

As a minimum:

  • Access to a swimming pool all year round or safe open water venue during the summer if you plan on any open water events
  • Suitable swim wear, goggles, swim hat and a wetsuit if you plan on open water swimming

Things to consider in addition:

  • Access to swimming video analysis and coached sessions which can greatly help your technique to improve
  • A swimming watch to help keep track of time and distance

Bike

As a minimum:

  • A mechanically sound bicycle, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy – some of the clubs top triathletes started out on mountain bikes or entry level road bikes.
  • A helmet – this is a must for your own safety and you will not be allowed to race without one.
  • Suitable cycling attire – again this doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or expensive to get you started. Aldi regularly do some fantastic kit at a great price. I would recommend a good pair of padded cycling shorts though as this will help to make your cycling more comfortable on the nether regions!

Things to consider in addition:

  • Clipless pedals and cycling shoes – these give much better power transfer than cycling in a pair of trainers but take some getting used to.
  • Aerodynamic accessories – such as aero bars (not the chocolate ones!), aero helmet and potentially an aerodynamic bike
  • GPS cycling computer – these are a great tool to track distance, time etc as well as enabling you to plan routes and follow them if you’re not too sure of where to go
  • Power meter – this is a more advanced training tool but if your budget allows it can be well utilised to help you improve

Run

As a minimum:

  • A pair of suitable running shoes – check your shoes regularly for signs of wear as worn out shoes can lead to injuries.
  • Some suitable and comfortable running attire – this is very much a personal preference and can also be dependent on the weather. Decathlon is a good place to look for a wide selection of quality running kit and don’t forget the Gade Valley kit too!

Things to consider in addition:

  • Get yourself along to the club running sessions if you don’t already!
  • A GPS running watch to help you track distance and time.
  • A fuel belt or some way of carrying water/nutrition if you’re planning on some long runs

 

Transition

Transition is usually referred to as the fourth discipline of a triathlon and shouldn’t be overlooked. A transition zone is where you change over between the swim and the bike (Transition 1 or T1) and then between the bike and the run (Transition 2 or T2). It’s very easy to get panicked and lost in a transition zone during a race so it’s important to be prepared for this.

You should practice transitions in the weeks and months leading up to the race especially if you are a first time triathlete. It’s very important when setting up in the transition zone on the day of the race that you walk through the path you would take from entering transition at the ‘swim in’, to your bike rack, from the bike rack to the ‘bike out’ then from the ‘bike in’ back to your rack and finally from racking your bike to the ‘run out’. This will help you prepare for when you’re coming through transition in the race itself. It’s always good to try and look for fixed landmarks near your bike racking point such as a lamppost or a tree and try to count which rack you are on i.e. the third rack from the ‘swim in’ etc. which again will help you smoothly navigate through transition. Above all in transition, aim to keep calm, think clearly and don’t rush otherwise it’s easy for mistakes to be made.

The most important rule in regards to transition is to ensure that your helmet is fastened before you pick your bike up in T1 and then to ensure you rack your bike before unclipping your helmet in T2.

 

Preparing for and at the event

As a minimum:

  • Get all your kit packed the night before the event.
  • Arrive in plenty of time and well prepared with knowledge of the course.
  • Read through the pre-race details at least few times in the week prior.
  • Register with plenty of time to set up in transition.
  • Set up in transition and familiarise yourself with your racking location and where the ‘swim in’ ‘bike in’ ‘bike out’ and ‘run out’ locations are.
  • Allow time for a warm up before starting the race – how you do this is a personal preference, it could be a short jog with some strides and stretches or a short swim (if allowed) before the start.
  • Enjoy it!!!

Things to consider in addition:

  • During training for the event, try to ride the bike course and run the run course as this will give a lot of good knowledge of what to expect on race day.
  • If you can’t ride/run the course in advance, consider allowing time to drive the bike course prior to the race to give you good knowledge of what to expect on race day.

What to take with you to an event?

The following list will give you a good guide what to take with you on the day of an event, it’s not a comprehensive list and you may want to take more but it covers the essentials.

Swim

  • Swimwear/trisuit
  • Wetsuit and wetsuit lube if open water event
  • Hat (2 hats if open water – helps to keep your head a bit warmer!)
  • Goggles and spare goggles – last thing you want is for your goggles to snap and you don’t have a back up

Bike

  • Bike – seems obvious…
  • Helmet
  • Bike shoes – these can just be trainers
  • Additional clothing to wear over swimwear or in case of bad weather
  • Water or sports drink – how much depends on the race distance
  • Gels/nutrition – useful in longer races to have some energy food to keep the energy levels topped up
  • Sunglasses – useful to keep the wind, sun and things like bugs out of your eyes

Run

  • Running shoes
  • Cap if it’s a hot day

Transition

  • Towel – useful to stand on at your bike and to dry your feet if you’re putting socks on (personal preference). It’s also helpful to easily spot your bike if you have a bright/unusual towel.
  • Race number belt – a much easier way to wear your race numbers and only cost about £5 plus saves pin holes in your clothes.
  • Socks – many triathletes race without but it’s whatever is your preference
  • Talcum powder – if you don’t plan on putting socks on, this is very useful to help to dry your feet and can help to prevent blisters
  • Vaseline – useful to help prevent chafing in certain areas!

For further information or if you have questions or are interested in coaching, please drop an email to coachhamish@bsuretritraining.com