Six Things Every Beginner Should Know
Okay, so maybe there are more than SIX things here…
The biggest triathlon mystery is not how to run. It is what to wear on race day. (I’m kidding…sorta). Race day clothing is a nightmare! Run screaming into the night right now, I tell you. Okay, seriously. What in the world do you wear on race day? I have tried everything out there. Okay, maybe not everything.
But here’s the secret: find one thing to wear. Put it on before the swim. Then swim. Then bike. Then run. Then take it off when you get home. Are you confused yet?
In a race you should aim to wear a one-piece triathlon suit or a two-piece triathlon kit. A “kit” is usually a top and bottom combo that looks fancy. Regardless of whether you have a suit or a kit, your race day clothing is designed to be worn in all three stages of the race. In other words, you do not take it off! Magic!
With the exception of the wetsuit (if needed), you need not put on any other piece of clothing. This also means that you need not take off any clothing. You wear your wetsuit (again, only if needed) on top of your triathlon suit/kit. After the swim, you strip off the wetsuit, put on your helmet and cycling shoes and are ready to go. You should never (ever) show your goodies in transition area. Ever. Ever. The best way to avoid showing others your stuff is to keep your clothes on.
Interested in Taking a Spinning Class?
It’s a little satirical… but not that much.
Be Smart. Become a STUDENT of Triathlon.
One definition of “smart” is to be “mentally alert.”At all times during your training, you should practice mental alertness. You must be cognizant of your surroundings, your body and your mind. (And the crazy clothing).
Part of the challenge, especially as a beginner, is to keep tabs on your technique, your energy levels and your health. Make sure that you are feeling okay during your training sessions. At the same time, you must be smart and remember that hard work is the only path to success in your triathlon goals. Does it really hurt, or are you just uncomfortable with the heat and the sweat? Can you push through and finish that last half-mile? Be smart and know your limits, but at the same time, give yourself some credit and do not let your mind tell your body “I can’t” when it certainly can.
….Everyone can ride a bike, right?
Really? Yes, really. Go to a beginner triathlon and you’ll see what I mean. You may think, I can’t do a race because I can’t ride a bike. Unfortunately, that has not stopped some people. And I do not mean that in a good way.
It is fine if you cannot ride a bike today. You will learn. But you should not go to your first triathlon if you cannot ride your bike comfortably and safely (see below- LEARN TO RIDE YOUR BIKE)…
I am a firm believer in becoming a student of triathlon. Even though I ran out and did my first tri pretty quickly, I had absorbed and read a ton of books, blogs and magazines beforehand. I had ridden that evil bike in the past.
I knew how to pump my tires, change a tube and fix a dropped chain. I was bad with clipping in and out of my pedals, but only to my own detriment (stopping and going). Once I was in the pedals, I knew and followed the rules. I knew that you must stay to the right of the road, not draft and pass within so many seconds (that was not my concern…passing), and announce “On Your Left!” when passing.
…Remember to read the USA Triathlon rules for sanctioned events and spend some time devouring articles on swim starts, bike handling and race courtesies.
It’s simple: just read, learn and absorb the safety measures and rules. Even when you may not be fast or close to it, you will at least be a good student of triathlon and you’ll be on your way. Your family will thank you—because you’ll be around to see more days of racing. And your fellow racers will thank you. More than you know.
Keep Your Perspective.
Sometimes training sucks. Sometimes races suck.
Still, keep your heart open and grateful—stay positive that you are able to move forward (no matter how slowly!).
Start each workout and each race with the proposition that you are blessed to do it.
Then take a deep breath.
Remember: while you are taking part in a competition, competing is not the main goal. Remember that this race is the start of something wonderful in your life. Look at the others around you, but do not compare yourself to them. Look at your fellow racers with the realization that they, too, are nervous and anxious about their race. Remember that this is your race. Be thankful.
Take another deep breath.
Look to the sky. Say “thank you” to your God for letting you stand on that beach, dock, boat, deck or grass. Embrace a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness as the national anthem is played (or if it’s not your country’s anthem, hum your own and be thankful anyway). Be humbled by your working body, your strong body that is going to get you across the finish line. Be thankful that you had the opportunity to train for the race. Realize that you have worked hard and you are ready for it. Thank your body for the hard work it is about to take on. Thank your mind for believing in you. Thank your soul for carrying the dream through.
Carry the feeling of gratefulness during your entire race. Be strong between your ears, and that will keep your body strong. When you feel that you can’t go on, then tell yourself, Just keep moving forward or use a mantra that you have used in training.
The FOUR Most Important Rules of Triathlon
Believe in Yourself.
Know when to Stop.
Most Importantly, Know when to Keep Going.
(a/k/a —-Just Keep Moving Forward)