Women are built differently than men—both physically and mentally. They have their own motivators and their own distinct challenges to overcome when training for and racing triathlons. Approaching your triathlon experience from a woman's point of view can be so much more rewarding than simply falling in line with the boys. Follow these tips for female triathletes to help make your experience that much better.
Find a Good Sports Bra
Women have a high threshold for pain. They often think that something is normal even if it's irritating. Nowhere is that more evident than with the sports bra. Most female triathletes, at some point, have been rewarded for their run with nothing more than cuts and blood where their sports tops rubbed them raw.
Body Glide might be a saving grace in a lot of instances but it can't protect you from an ill-fitting sports bra. Do yourself a favor and head to a sports store (Road Runner Sports is quite helpful) and ask for a fitting. When you find the bra that's right for you, buy two. Age-grouper Kirsten Korosec likes to throw an extra one in her race bag?just in case.
My saving grace: The CW-X VERSATX Support Bra
More: Sports Bra Buying Tips
Use Body Glide
Even the best clothing still rubs. You are, after all, dunking yourself in water followed by several hours of repetitive motion on the bike and run. That's where Body Glide comes in. The morning of the race, apply it to all your sensitive spots. Age grouper Liz Harrell says "use it in your shorts; apply it on all the seams of your chamois. Also use it on the inside of your arms to prevent chaffing while swimming and running."
Other areas it could be helpful: on your ankles and wrist to help with wetsuit removal; on your neck where your wetsuit might rub; and under your bra line.
Train in Your Race Clothes
Guys have it easy: no curves that make their shorts look funny or their shirts fit weird; no sports bras to bother with; no long hair to muck with. It's almost like they are a one-size-fits all kind of crowd. Well, that's not the case for women. Women's triathlon clothes bunch, ride, rub, and pull, and that discomfort can make or break a race. Not to mention the hair; finding the perfect hairdo—one that transfers easily from swim cap to bike helmet to visor—can be challenging.
Practice in your outfit. Do a few brick workouts or practice triathlons to make sure your clothes and hair won't bother you on race day.
Learn How to Change Your Own Flats
Part of race day is making sure your equipment is dialed in. Are the tires pumped? Is your chain lubed? Is everything is good working order? Do you have spare tubes, a tire lever and a pump or CO2 cartridge? And most importantly, do you know how to use those things?
A flat tire doesn't have to mean a DNF (did not finish). Sure you might lose a few minutes but you'll be back up and running faster if you know how to help yourself.
Practice changing your tubes at home...yes, even if you don't have a flat. Just be sure to let some air out of the tube before you remove the tire.
More: How to Fix a Flat Tire
Connect With Other Women
I'm a smiler. I have more fun if I can connect with other people on the course, so I smile at other triathletes during a race. It's mostly for selfish reasons though. You see, when I smile, I typically get a smile back—and that's what keeps me going. One thing I noticed, however, is that women are more likely to smile back than men.
Use that positive energy to your advantage. Chat with the female triathletes while you're waiting for your wave to start. Make a point to smile at your competitors as they ride or run past. It just might be the boost you need during the toughest part of the race.
If you're looking for a real pick-me-up, sign up for a women-only event. They offer an ideal racing experience for both beginners and veterans who are looking for a dose of true camaraderie.
Search for your next triathlon.