Top 10 Tips to Prepare for Your First triathlon

First triathlon can be a daunting experience.  Here are 10 tips to make it go as smooth as possible.

1. Take the mystery out of the race with mini race sessions including transitions. 

These should be short swim/bike sessions, or bike/run sessions.  Be sure to practice the transitions multiple times.  On the day before the race do one of these, just keep it very short like 3 mile bike and 1 mile run.

2. Get as familiar with the actual race course as possible. 

First thing a professional triathlete would do is know the course.  What sight lines to follow in the swim, how transitions are laid out, and what obstacles could exist?  Follow their lead and do the same.

3. Practice the swim in race conditions with or without a wetsuit depending on what you will race in. 

If the swim is a pool or open water you need to practice in similar conditions.  Use the same swim gear you plan to race with.  If open water get out in it, but not by yourself.  Bring a kayaker and practice sighting.  Consider taking a look every 3 to 6 strokes.  Sometimes just counting each stroke can keep your mind busy and less nervous.

4. Have your clothing/equipment set as far as possible in advance

Using untested equipment just adds to the nerves on race day.  Make sure you have what you plan to swim in, ride with and run with.  Don't forget the little things like a race belt for your race number, and the big things like helmet, swim goggles and running shoes.

5. On race day get there early, setup and relax

It takes time to get checked in, transition set and a good look over the swim course.  Running late causes too many problems, don't let that happen.  Good idea to air up bike tires the night before or the morning of.  For a road bike keep the air pressure between 90 to 100 psi (6.5 bar).  Everyone gets nervous before the start.  Make a friend, enjoy some light hearted conversation, and be upbeat.   

6. Be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared. 

Keeping a positive outlook on each part of the race is a must.  Mentally picture each segment of the swim, bike, run and both transitions.  This will help you relax and think positive on race day.

7. Night Before and nutrition advice

The night before the race enjoy a meal much like you would any other day.  However, just keep it moderate and be sure you are properly hydrated.  Too much hydration will keep you up at night so no need to push it too far.  Usually it’s hard to sleep, so read a book or do something to keep you mind occupied. 
Race morning eat lightly about 2-3 hours before, and drink a caffeinated beverage.  You might also consider something like 2 Ensure drinks in place of solid food.  One gel about 10 minutes prior to the start is also a good idea. 

8. Transition area setup

Keep everything in transition to a minimum.  If you don’t plan to swim, bike or run in it leave it somewhere else.  Lay things out in a neat tidy order.  Keep in mind it may get bumped around during the race.  Make a mental note of where your spot is so you can find it very easily.  Look for anything that makes that area unique.

9. During the race

Think smooth application of power.  No need to start fast on each discipline then struggle as the race goes on.  No triathlon is actually a sprint, so keep in mind pacing as even as possible is your best bet.

10. Enjoy the experience

It may seem obvious, but it's easy to get caught up in the competition, nerves, and stress of a race.  Take the time to make a friend, enjoy the day, and c
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