Winning a triathlon—or even just edging out a few more people in your age group—isn't always about swimming, biking, and running faster. Ranking higher can be as simple as fixing the little errors that allow time to "leak" out of your race.
Even if you're more worried about crossing the finish line than getting on the podium, it's worth adding these tips to your triathlon race strategy. Why not gain free speed without any additional effort? After all that training, the last thing you want to do is lose rank just because you fumbled with your helmet in your first transition (T1).
Avoid these five triathlon mistakes in your next race, and you just might cross the finish line ahead of someone who's usually a little faster than you:
Triathlon Mistake No. 1: Not Swimming in a Straight Line
It sounds obvious, but it's a time killer; and you don't get an award for the farthest distance swum in the first leg of a race. "Take a moment to see the direction you're going in," says Earl Walton, head coach of TriLife in New York City.
"If you're not very good at sighting, take a stroke or two of breaststroke. That will ultimately be faster than swimming the wrong way."
Triathlon Mistake No. 2: Not Loading Up Your Bike
"Minimize and organize," Walton says. Prep your bike before the race: Put your helmet and sunglasses on your handlebars so you don't have to bend over and pick them up. Be sure they're facing the right way so you don't have to turn them around to put them on.
Also, know exactly where you're going to put your wetsuit when you take it off.