Training hard isn't the only way to race faster. These triathlon-racing tips will help you race smarter—and maybe even help move you up the ranks.
Know the Course
If you take a shot in the dark, that's what you're going to get. Knowing what you're getting into, on the other hand, is a huge advantage, says Earl Walton, head coach for TriLife in New York City (www.trilife.org).
You can't make an effective race plan unless you know exactly what and where the challenges are. "You might be slogging up a 7-mile hill and not know that you have the chance to gain speed with 10 miles of downhill right afterward," Walton says.
Ride or at least scout the course beforehand.
Ride Through the Hill
"To really be fast, you must not rest at the top of a hill," says Selene Yeager, author of Every Woman's Guide to Cycling. Squelch the natural reaction at the top of the hill to grab your water bottle and think you're done. Fast and strategic racers, she says, "finish faster than they started on the climb, and they recover as they pedal down the hill."
Yeager, who also races semi-pro for Team CF (http://teamcf.org), says you need to do this on every hill. "If you're not used to charging over the hill and recovering on the fly, you won't do it at a race and your competitors will get away from you."
Take a Minute in the First Mile of the Run
Don't be afraid to stop or slow down when you come out of your second transition (T2) and head out on the run. You won't gain speed if you come out of T2 with your heart rate skyrocketing and try to keep going.
"The person who stops and gathers themselves may take an extra 20 seconds in mile one," Walton says, "but they're going to be able to run better for the rest of the race."