The 7 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Triathletes Make

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One of the joys of being a beginner in any sport is that you will improve over time. When you first begin training for triathlon there is a huge learning curve. The best thing to remember is that you’ll only get better for the next event!

But why wait for the next event?  Get a head start now and learn about all the mistakes the first timers make and maybe you won’t look like one when it comes time for race day:

Mistake #1: Investing in Gear, not Yourself
Three sports, each with its own expensive gear. There are tons of magazines and ads trying to sell you the latest gadget or gear, but at the end of the day it’s really about YOU, not the money hanging off your bike or the suit you’re wearing.  Invest in yourself, your training and your fitness and you’ll be better off.

Mistake #2: Losing Your Bike
Many new triathletes enter the swim-to-bike transition (T-1) area and run down several rows of bicycles because they can’t find their bike.  Pay attention to where you left your bike.  Get to the race venue early before race time to orient yourself with where you park your bike.  Walk back and forth from the swim entrance to your bike, to the bike exitm to the bike entrance and back to the transition area over and over again until you are familiar with where your bike is located.


Mistake #3: Using the Transition Area as a Break Room
When you exit the water this is not the time to dry yourself off, put on sunscreen and enjoy a sports bar. Your transition time should be a few minutes – not fifteen. Most experts take only a minute or two in transition.  While you are no expert (yet), and you certainly do not have to shoot for that time, just know your transition time will improve with every race.

Mistake #4: Not Knowing How to Change a Flat
Before your race, practice changing a flat tire with whatever you plan to carry on race day. Some people prefer CO2 cartridges instead of a pump because they usually make the process faster. But, if you don’t know how to use them, that defeats the purpose of carrying them.  For a quick tutorial, visit my YouTube channel for a video demonstration:  How To Fix a Flat Tire

Mistake #5: Neglecting Your Bike Gears
Learn how to use your bike gears correctly. Doing a triathlon on a single-speed is admirable, but a lot more work. The main benefit of using different gears for the ride is that you optimize energy and time. Using a bigger gear than necessary on a climb slows you down and loads your legs with fatigue similar to weight lifting.

Assuming you’re not racing on a flat course, use your gears often. Make multiple gear changes during the ride so your pedal revolutions per minute (rpm) are comfortable and around the 80 to 90 range. If you have steep hills, those may drive lower rpm rates. Regardless, if you use your gears during the ride, the bike ride will be less work and you’ll save your energy for a faster run.

Mistake #6: Poor ability to pace properly
Almost all triathletes start the bike leg of the race with too high an intensity and then they start the run on tired legs and end the race poorly because they’re exhausted.  You have to learn how to pace yourself.

Mistake #7: Haphazard training

Many triathletes forget what they are trying to accomplish while they’re training. You must have a purpose for every workout, which should be aerobic endurance, muscular force, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance, speed skills or recovery.

If you start the high intensity training too early in the season you’ll be burned out quickly.  The key is appropriate intensity spread out over time.

Mistake #8 – Although the title says seven mistakes, there is one more that all new triathletes forget to do and that is HAVE FUN! It’s easy to get stressed when you’re trying to learn three sports and fit in workouts five or six days a week. Remember it’s supposed to be fun!

If you need triathlon training to help work through these mistakes so you don’t look like a first timer, contact me today.

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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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