Signing Up for a Race Just Because Your Friends Do1 of 17
We're not saying you should never race with your friends. If you're timid swimming in the ocean, though, or don't perform well on hilly bike legs—but your group wants to sign up for a race with those characteristics—it might be best to find another race that plays to your individual strengths. Then, you can guilt them into coming to support you (and bring you a finish line beer).
Thinking Gadgets and Gear Will Make You Better2 of 17
Yes, the flashiest aero helmet, most expensive bike and latest power meter might lead to incremental gains on the course, but what really matters is what you do with the equipment. Always concentrate more on training your body—rather than exercising your wallet—when preparing for your triathlon.
Not Being Prepared on Race Day3 of 17
Not waking up early enough, failing to eat a good breakfast, forgetting air up your tires or spacing out on sunscreen—there's a long list of things you might forget on the morning of a race. Make a checklist for yourself the night before, and allow plenty of time to get everything done before your race actually starts. This will put your mind at ease and allow you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Brushing Off Transitions4 of 17
While transitions are only a small part of the overall race, they can either cost or save valuable seconds or even minutes. Do you really want to miss hitting your goal time or a PR because you neglected to practice T1 and T2 a few times before race day?
Not Knowing the Rules5 of 17
Like any sport, it's important to know the rules of triathlon—or, more specifically, your race distance—before toeing the line. From drafting to proper transition protocol, your time can be absolutely buried by penalties, ruining the flow of your race (or at least your day).
Not Knowing How to Fix a Flat6 of 17
Take a page out of Olympian Gwen Jorgensen's book. The 2016 gold medal winner was a favorite to medal at the London Games in 2012 before a flat tire took her out of the running. She even admitted, being a relative novice in the sport, that she didn't know how to fix the issue at the time. Learn from Jorgensen and make sure to practice changing the tires on your bike until you have complete confidence in your abilities. You won't regret it.
Skipping Mid-Race Nutrition7 of 17
While nutrition isn't as important during sprints, if you want to make it to the finish line of a longer distance triathlon, on-course nutrition is crucial. There's no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, so finding what works for you and practicing your strategy in the weeks leading up to your race is just as important as fine-tuning your swim-bike-run.
Making Big Next-Step Decisions Immediately After a Race8 of 17
In all aspects of life, you shouldn't make big decisions when emotions are high. This definitely holds true for triathlon. After finishing your race—no matter how well or how terrible it went—take a few days to let your performance settle in before deciding to either hang up your tri kit or sign up for your next big challenge.
Working on Speed When You Should Be Working on Endurance9 of 17
What's the point of trying to go faster if you can't maintain that speed throughout the race? Knowing when you plateau is key to identifying what you need to work on: At what distance does your run start to slow? At what point in the swim does your form begin to break down?
Skipping Strength Training10 of 17
We don't advocate bulking up to the point of looking like the Hulk on a kids' tricycle. However, strength training, when done right, can actually help improve your performance on the course. It's also a critical component of injury prevention, keeping you from having to miss training due to nagging aches and pains.
Skipping Recovery11 of 17
Taking a day to recover every so often isn't just about letting your muscles repair. It also helps prevent any potential burnout you might experience from overtraining. Everyone gets tired of doing the same old thing, over and over and over again. Giving yourself a break from triathlon will help keep your mind and body fresh and ready for more.
Showing Up to a Race with Untested Gear12 of 17
Hopefully, you know by now not to wear that brand-new pair of running shoes or the new tri suit you got for your birthday for the first time at a race. How will you know about potential chafing or sizing issues or general comfort until putting your gear through a few rounds of testing during training? This also includes gear that hasn't seen action in a while, so remember to try on last season's wetsuit before hitting the water on the first leg of your next race.
Not Warming Up Properly Before a Race13 of 17
Don't wear yourself out before the race even starts, but a light warm-up to stretch your muscles is essential to any pre-race ritual. Since you likely won't get access to the swim before the gun goes off, take time to prepare for the other legs of the race. It's suggested you ride anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes and run 10 to 15—including periods of easy pedaling or jogging, as well as race-pace efforts.
Not Scouting the Course14 of 17
Would you go into a test in school without knowing what material you'll be tested on? We hope not. The same thing goes for a triathlon. Checking out the ins and outs of the course ahead of time will prevent any surprises from cropping up during your race and ruining your day. Check out the swim exit and the path to T1, as well as objects you might want to sight during the swim and any other potentially tricky parts of the course that might trip you up after the gun goes off. If you get to the race destination a couple days in advance, test out the run and bike courses for unexpected hills, turns or signage. The last thing you want to do is go off course and have to swim, bike or run any longer than you have to.
Not Programming a Taper into Your Training Schedule15 of 17
It's easy to simply plan your training schedule for a big race by gradually building up volume until the day you apply your race number. A well-executed taper can actually help you see even bigger gains than you would otherwise, though. And you don't want to toe the line feeling fatigued, right?
Focusing Too Much on One Discipline16 of 17
Do you avoid the dreaded swim or spend more time on the run because it's just what you're good at? A well-balanced training schedule is the only way to produce a well-rounded triathlon on race day. This doesn't have to mean spending an equal amount of time practicing each discipline, though. Instead, break up your training regimen based on the big day. You'll likely spend half your race on the bike, then you can decide how to spend your remaining time depending on your strengths as a swimmer and runner.