Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Triathlon 

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After setting up our team tent and being up close and personal to the 9,000 athletes participating in the Chicago Triathlon yesterday, I thought it would be helpful to give all of you the Top 5 mistakes to avoid in triathlon. My tent was set up so close to the swim start, I was able to witness many things that should just never happen.  I want to be able to help you avoid all of these situations in your future races!

  1. Running out of time: Let it be know that the bigger the race, the more time you are going to need.  There was not a single thing you didn’t have to wait in line for at yesterday’s Chicago Triathlon.  The expo, getting into transition, using a porta potty, getting body marked…you name it, you were waiting.  Allow yourself plenty of extra time to get yourself all set up and head to the swim start for any race you do.  Extra time is always better than not enough time.
  1. Not being aware of the rules: The USAT rules are standard and every triathlete should know them.  You should know if wetsuits are allowed, if they are not and what that means for you.  You should also know rules of drafting, which side of the street to ride on (in the Chicago Triathlon, there is a portion where you actually do ride on the left and pass on the right, which is completely opposite of most races), how long you have to pass someone, rules of littering and everything else!  Before any race, check out the race website to see if there are any rules particular to your event, but in most cases, the USAT rules are going to hold true.  You can check out these rules by visiting:  USAT Most Common Rule Violations
  1. Not making a meeting plan with your friends for after the race. We are so attached to technology, we can just call or text anyone at any time.  This isn’t true when it comes to racing!  We are not allowed to bring/use our phones at a race, so your phone might be at transition, gear check or even with one of your spectator friends.  If you plan on meeting someone after the race so you can leave together, make sure you both go over a very descriptive plan of where you will meet and even include a contingency plan.  “I will meet you at the bike exit of transition.  If I am not there by XYZ time, then meet me at the parking lot on the corner of A and B.”  “My wave number is X, my start time is Y and I plan to finish between A and B time.”  Yes, it needs to be that specific for larger events.  For something like the Chicago Triathlon, saying something like “I’ll meet you in transition” is pretty useless seeing that the transition area is so large.
  1. Trying new things on race day: Never, ever should you be using a new pair of shorts, a new wetsuit you’ve never swam in or try a new nutrition plan.  New things are great, but they are best practiced in training.  On race day, it’s best to use your “tried and true” methods.  Use those things that have been working for you so well in your training.
  1. Relying on others. When participating in triathlons, it’s best to be self-sufficient.  Although water might be readily available at the race start, you shouldn’t rely on that.  What if it isn’t there?  What if it takes you too long to get there?  What if they ran out?  Try to eliminate all the “what ifs” and bring everything and anything you think you might need.  Of course, there are always slight “emergencies” when something breaks, like a pair of goggles or a pony tail holder, but if you can anticipate anything you might need, bring it all with you and use it accordingly, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress knowing that no matter what, you got this!!

Until next time – Train Right, Tri Right!

Coach MJ

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MJ Gasik started competing in the sport of triathlon in 2003 and has completed 12 Ironman distance races including the World Championships in Kona, HI. MJ is a USAT Certified Coach, Ironman U Certified Coach, USMS Level 4 Certified Coach and is the founder and owner of Tri Right Coaching. MJ has coached hundreds of athletes from beginners through elite to personal bests in distances from sprint through Ironman.

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