Peak performances don't happen by accident. They occur after months of hard work, structured and consistent training and, most importantly, planning every aspect of your racing.
Fast racing is not about taking that special nutritional supplement, getting a new bike/equipment or buying a pair of running shoes that claim to make you run efficiently; it's actually much simpler and cheaper than that.
However, simply trying to race faster over an entire triathlon is too vague a goal.
If you're looking to set a personal record, otherwise known as a PR, you need to consider the elements that can affect you most.
The Ripple Effect
Few athletes know (or realize) that poor swim fitness will lead you to a poor race performance, especially on the run.
If you're not getting out of the water "fresh," the accumulated fatigue, will be noticed on the second half of the run, if not earlier.
No matter how good of a runner you are, if you're already fatigued from the swim and/or bike, you will not perform as well as you think. Don't blame your running fitness; instead, blame your swim fitness.
Analyze Your Weaknesses
For a great performance, you'll be looking to maximize the benefits of all the things you can control and minimize the dangers from the things you can't.
This not only means consistent, progressive training, but also taking the time to analyze yourself (weaknesses) and finding a course that suits your strengths. By doing so, you can prepare a plan to ensure you get the best out of yourself and all other triathlon elements when it matters most.
In other words, you're stacking together all the factors of a stellar performance so they drop into place perfectly on race day and carry you to a new PR.
Most improvements, especially the biggest improvements, can be made in areas of weakness. For instance, getting to the pool regularly to work on your technique, developing strength on the bike or shedding some excess weight to improve your running ability will all improve your overall time.