You can learn a lot from mistakes – but they don’t have to be your own! Many experienced triathletes will tell you they’ve learned a lot from the mistakes they’ve made while competing in a triathlon. And sometimes, the challenges of a triathlon can be a better teacher than your coach themselves, but there is no reason to make those same mistakes many before you have made.
Here are some of the most common mistakes you’ll want to avoid:
1. Trying Something New
Never try something new on race day. This is the most common mistake triathletes make. Train the way you want to race and race the way you’ve trained – don’t mess with that. Be familiar with everything – your equipment, the race pace, your clothing and nutrition. Try it all out beforehand so you are comfortable and know how to handle things when the day comes.
2. Not Knowing the Rules
Learn the rules of the race before you race. Whether it’s written down in your packet or verbally told to you at a meeting, make sure you know all the rules so you don’t break any and get penalized. You could always read the full rulebook at usatriathlon.org if you’d like to clearly know the dos and don’ts of a triathlon.
3. Not Practicing Transitions
Transitions are just as important as the swimming, biking and running portions of a triathlon. If you excel in the transitions, if will help you excel in the race. But you have to practice them – they don’t come easy. It is one thing to put on socks and shoes while sitting down, but it is exponentially more challenging to do it when you’ve just come out of a swim then run to your transition area. Transitions take a lot of practice and should not be tried at a race for the first time. Practice taking your googles and swim cap off, putting on and buckling your bike helmet; and also running with your “bike legs”.
4. Hydrating Too Little or Too Much
While you are training, you need to determine how much fluid your body needs to stay hydrated. In general, if your race lasts for less than an hour and it’s not too hot, you probably don’t need extra water during the race if you hydrate before and after. If the race is longer than that, you should drink roughly 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Be careful not to drink too much. Having too much water can dilute your system of sodium and potassium. You can also add sports drinks to replace much needed electrolytes.
5. Not Knowing the Race Course
For the most part, it should be pretty simple to follow your race course. However, there are some occasions where you might not have anyone in front of you to follow. Worse, you could follow someone who has also gone off course. Take the time to check out the course maps and take note of anything that might look a little confusing during your race. Many times, athletes are not thinking clearly during the race, so it’s best to review the routes beforehand so you know exactly what to do during the race.
Despite your best efforts to avoid them, sometimes mistakes are unavoidable and they will drain you emotionally and physically. The best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and make sure to not make them next time. Hopefully this list will help you prepare for that next race and avoid making those mistakes to begin with. Need more triathlon race tips? Contact me