11 Tips for Your First Triathlon

Rule #4: Map out the transition area.

Note where the entrance from the swim is located in relation to what isle you're in; take note of where the bike out and bike in are; and finally, where the run out is.

Find a light pole or structure to help recognize your placement. You can even walk through the motions so that you can get a view of what your surroundings will look like during the race.

More: 5 Ways to Save Time in Your Transitions

Rule #5: Mentally rehearse the order of things after you lay everything out.

After you set up your transition area, mentally rehearse your transitions. Some people get tripped up when it comes to that part. Know the order you will put on your bike and run gear.

Before you walk away, make sure your bike is in a low gear. This will help your breathing rate and heart rate rise naturally when you start the bike portion of the race. A high gear will force your heart beat up too high, too fast.

More: 6 Ways to Develop Fast Transitions

Rule# 6: Don't Just Stand There—Warm Up

Get your heart rate up to aerobic zone for eight to 20 minutes before the race. If you are not comfortable doing this in the water, ride your bike a little ways (2 to 5 miles)—if you can take your bike out of transition.

If you can't do either of these, do a dynamic warm up. Elephant walk, torso twist and mock freestyle swim strokes to lubricate your shoulders are all good warm-up exercises. Stay warm; wear gloves and a hood if necessary.

More: Your Optimal Race-Day Warm-Up

Rule#7: Swim smart.

View the swim course, including key turns, before your wave. Take mental note of the key turns and match them with something on the shore if possible. Also note on which turns you will have the sun in your eyes. If you can, swim the course, or sections of the course, the day before.

Once you start the swim, take slow methodical deep breaths. Avoid short, panicky breaths.

Do this: Look up at the sky, which has a calming effect, on the inhale. Then watch and feel the bubbles come out when you exhale. You can also wiggle your fingers lightly on the recovery part of the stroke to help trigger relaxation on your upper half. Also, try dorsi-flexing your ankles while swimming. It's an active stretch on your calves and something you can practice in the pool before the race.

More: Race Rehearsal Tips for the Swim Leg

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