You've done all of your training to prepare for race day, all you have to do is put your body on autopilot and execute, right?
Unless you have perfect, efficient form that is completely engrained in your automatic reflexes, a few checks done during the triathlon can be very helpful.
"Checks" mean that athletes should do a few form drills and body checks during the race. These checks help athletes keep good form and run the race more efficiently.
Once the initial rush of the swim is over, triathletes should settle into a pace.
Because it is easy to revert to old, bad habits in the flurry of racing, I have athletes do a few stroke checks within the first quarter of the race. You should do at least one or more of the following:
- Body position check: Is your body as parallel to the water surface as possible? Is your chest pressed toward the bottom and your head in line with your spine?
- Count strokes: You've likely been doing stroke count drills in the pool. Even if your swim is in open water, doing a stroke count for what would be a normal 25 or 50 meters for you helps remind your body of what you've been practicing in the pool.
- Relaxed recovery: One time, each quarter of the distance that you're swimming, focus on relaxed, high elbow, fingertip drag for just six to eight strokes. Be sure each arm is equally relaxed and entering the water at approximately the same location.