Ride in the Rain1 of 8
Wet conditions can add a whole new level of anxiety to a race, especially if you have never ridden on wet roads. Braking time increases, visibility can be compromised and wet roads (especially painted lines) can be like an ice rink. Head out in wet conditions every once in a while to see how your bike handles in the rain. Come race day you will know what adjustments to make for a comfortable and safe bike leg.
Swim Without Goggles2 of 8
Some open water swims can be full-contact events, especially at the start. Goggles can be knocked out of place or the strap could break mid-swim, leaving you practically blind. First, practice swimming a few laps without goggles and get a feel for the experience. Second, let your goggles fill up with water and stop mid-lap to reposition them while treading water. This skill should also be practiced in open water.
Fix a Flat and Replace a Dropped Chain3 of 8
It's important to know how to perform basic repairs on your bike. Carry a spare kit (tube, CO2 cartridges and adaptor or small pump and tire levers) and learn how to take off both the front and rear wheel and replace the tube. Pro tip: Carry a dollar bill in your spare kit—if the tire is cut and the inner tube shows through, you can place the folded up dollar bill in the tire to act as a patch so the tube is not exposed.
Same goes for your chain--practice putting it back on before you're in a race setting. And yes, your hands will get greasy!
Ride With One Hand4 of 8
Stopping to drink will add unnecessary time to your bike split. Practice drinking with both hands during training rides--first alone and then in a group. You can also practice on your trainer by keeping your eyes looking ahead while reaching for, drinking from and replacing the bottle back in the cage.
Look Over Your Shoulder5 of 8
Practice holding a straight line on the bike when looking over your shoulder, and fight the natural tendency to drift in the direction you're looking. Try this skill first in a parking lot with no car traffic, then on the road with a group. Knowing what and who is behind you before moving left or right helps keep you and your competitors safe.
Swim Venue Tactics6 of 8
If your upcoming event is a pool swim that will snake back and forth, practice going under the lane lines to change directions. If your upcoming race is in open water, practice at a similar venue.
Know where the landmarks are when you work on sighting, practice swimming straight with no lane lines, get used to swimming in close contact with other athletes and check your goggles are the right tint and size.
Drink on the Run7 of 8
Similar to the bike leg, stopping at an aid station to drink takes time. Practice grabbing a cup on the go and drinking while moving--first at a walk and then at race pace. Take a couple little sips rather than one large gulp and be sure to thank the aid station volunteers.
Karen Buxton is a Level-III USA Triathlon certified coach with over 25 years of coaching experience and she is author of The Triathlete's Guide to Off-Season Training. Coach Buxton works and trains in Greensboro, North Carolina.