13 Tips for Sprint Triathlon Rookies

You're a sprint triathlon rookie. So what? With a little practice and a few simple tips, you can be just as prepared as a seasoned veteran.

Use this advice from a few of the top U.S. triathlon coaches to conquer the swim, bike, and run-and everything in between-on your first race day.

Race Strategies for the Swim

1. Get in the proper position. "The swim can be hectic, especially if you've never swam in open water with dozens of your friends," says Andres Douzoglo, triathlon coach and owner of Beyond Aero, a multisport shop in Berkeley, California.

More: Top 10 List of Newbie Triathlete Mistakes

Unless you're a strong swimmer, try to position yourself away from the chaos.

2. Don't panic. Getting caught up in the scrum of swimmers can be scary-and dangerous too.

"Newbies are wise to avoid the chaos by starting off easy," says Marty Gaal, a coach with One Step Beyond in Raleigh, North Carolina. "And if you panic, roll over on your back, take a few deep breaths, and think happy thoughts. Seriously!"

3. Sight right. It's important to sight while you swim to make sure you stay on course. It'll also help you clock a faster split.

"Ideally, you'll want to practice sighting in the pool beforehand by picking your head up every few strokes while maintaining kicking," says Kate Schnatterbeck, a coach with Tri-Umph Multisport in Chicago, Illinois. "Figure out the shortest line to get to each buoy, and pick your head up often. The more you do, the straighter you'll swim."

More: 6 Core Components of Triathlon Training

4. Kick it in. "As you get close to the end, kick a little more to get blood flowing to be ready for standing up and running," Schnatterbeck says. "Swim as far into shore as you can, even if you're touching the bottom. Then, take short strides all the way to the transition area."

Race Strategies for the Bike

1. Get in gear. Before you head out for the swim, be sure to leave your bike in the transition area in the right gear. "If you're going to be heading up a hill, then you'll want to be in a low gear," says Schnatterbeck, who also suggests checking your tire pressure to ensure they're in the right range (between 80 to 120 psi). "If they're properly inflated, that's like getting free speed."

2. Spin it out. No need to go all out on the bike from the gate. "Spin your legs for a few minutes to loosen up, then get into your pace," Schnatterbeck says.

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