Once you sign up for your first triathlon, you've completed a critical first step. You're not done yet, though. The work is only beginning.
Whether you plan to really push your limits or you want to simply cross the finish line, here are four tips to make your triathlon the first of many to come.
Practice T1 and T2
Don't expect to just show up on race day and ease your way through the transitions. Like most things in life, they take practice.
Learn how to set up a transition area. You'll need a towel or mat with your gear organized so you can grab things as you go. If you need help setting up a practice transition area, look up local triathlon clubs, as they're often happy to offer assistance.
Practice Transition 1 (T1), when you will have to run out of the water in your wetsuit and take it off before starting the bike leg. Are your water bottles filled and ready to go on the bike? Did you remember to secure your helmet? Additionally, prepare for Transition 2 (T2), when you will change into your running gear and mount your bike.
The small details are often forgotten on race day. Some forget to put on their heart-rate monitor or a different accessory, others forget to secure their helmet strap before starting the bike leg, and some forget to remove their helmet after getting off the bike. These are all things you'll want to practice.
Familiarize Yourself with Brick Workouts
There's nothing like the feeling of running off the bike. Your leg muscles are trying to make sense of their adjusted roles, while a change of blood flow simultaneously occurs. It can feel like your legs have rocks tied to them.
To learn how to run with this sensation, add brick workouts to your training. These workouts consist of back-to-back disciplines (swim-to-bike or bike-to-run). The goal is to complete each transition within five minutes, so plan accordingly.
The swim-to-bike brick helps you get used to the feeling of riding while fatigued and wet. Have your bike and cycling gear ready to go when you get out of the water so you can get a quick ride in after swimming.
The bike-to-run brick helps you prepare for the dead legs feeling so you can hold a solid pace out of T2. Plan your cycling route so you finish at your house with your running gear ready. Or have everything ready in your car so you can change, grab fluid and fuel and head out for a run.