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Triathlon Race Tips

Triathlon Race Tips

Training for a triathlon takes months of preparation. You swim, bike and run hundreds of miles getting ready for the race. When you show up at the starting line, your body should be ready. But it's not all about the physical. There are lots of little tricks that veterans use to gain a slight advantage and turn a good race into a great one.

We're going to share some of those tricks with you.

Before the race, make sure your bike is in its designated rack. Put it in a higher gear so you can take off easier and make sure the pedals are flat so they don't drag when you run it. Then look around for a reference point to locate it quicker. Get an especially bright towel to put beside the bike. That'll make it easier to spot amongst the hundreds of other bikes and towels.

To prevent chafing, put a little Vaseline or commercially available body glide on the sides of your bike seat. It's also good on the tongue of your shoes so you can slip them on easier and on any points that your feet may rub. Once your gear is in place, get ready for the race.


Position yourself for the swim portion based on your capabilities. If you're a fast swimmer, move toward the front of the pack. If you're a slow swimmer, hang near the back so your swim won't be interrupted.

When the race starts, walk or run out as far as you can lift your feet above the water. When the water reaches your waist, it's time to use dolphin diving or porpoising to get you further out. As you start swimming, lift your eyes (not your whole head) about every five strokes to make sure you're going in the right direction. If you can't do that, try using a breaststroke to get your bearings. The goal is to keep moving.

The moment you start walking or running out of the water, undo your wetsuit and pull it down to your waist. Remove your cap and goggles while you're moving to your bike and bright towel. When you arrive at your bike, pull the wetsuit down to your ankles. Use your feet to pull the wetsuit off your ankles at the same time you put your bicycle helmet on. Don't take your bike off the rack until your helmet is fastened or many races will disqualify you.


Put your shoes on, get your bike to the mount line and jump on. Move the gear to the setting you trained at and get into a rhythm. Don't push yourself too hard or you'll burn out early. If ten is your maximum effort, you should complete the bike portion at around a seven.

During the bike segment is when you should refuel your body. Drink and eat the foods you've trained with even if you're not feeling particularly hungry or thirsty.

Most races don't allow drafting, so stay about three bike lengths behind the cyclist in front of you. When you corner, keep your inside peddle up and away from the ground to avoid scraping. If you need to stretch you can either stand up or spin a little faster to loosen up the legs. Don't slow down until the last 500 meters.

If you're wearing bicycle shoes, undo them in the last 500 meters and place your feet (one foot at a time) on top of the shoes. Keep an eye on the road. Get off at the dismount line and get your bike back to where it came from. Once the bike is racked, you can unfasten your helmet and put your running shoes on.


On your way out of the transition area, get some fluid from the first refueling station to keep yourself hydrated. When you're finished drinking, get up to the speed you trained at. Your legs will be tired so use your arms to pick up the pace. Concentrate on the arm swing and your legs will fall in line. When you cross the finish line, celebrate!

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