The above you tube clip (thanks TriNation for the compilation) shows what can happen on the bike course, and these appear to be the guys who should know what they’re doing! For the weekend warrior, like the rest of us, the problems start a long while earlier.
Training for three very different disciplines takes a lot of time. And while it may feel great to ignore the alarm every now and again, the risk of being severely under-cooked for a race is really too big to allow for too many sleep ins. Triathlons hurt – but they hurt so much more if you haven’t put in the training. So, let’s assume you’ve put in the training…Your coach/tri-friends/magazine articles/where ever you get your information, will have said that you should try out all of your gear and nutrition on during your training to ensure that these things all work on race day. What you don’t want are blisters from new shoes, chaffing from new clothing, and an upset stomach from different nutrition. The idea is to have a plan which is cobbled together through trial and error in racing and put into play on race day. But training is over 3 or 4 months, and how do you remember all of the things you’ve tried in training? Use a training log to not only log your kilometres and times, but also the gear you used and your nutrition, including things like vitamins, salt tabs etc. Then pre-race, convert these things to a list to make sure you don’t forget them when packing for your race. Those that have been around for a while will give you these great tips:
- Have a second set of goggles at the start, as swimming without goggles is pretty unpleasant (I’ve had the goggle strap snap just before the start),
- Make sure you fit your elastic laces a good few weeks before race day and do a few runs with them (I’ve had the circulation cut off to my feet resulting in very painful feet by relacing for a race)
- Don’t forget ALL of your nutritional needs – often the smallest things have the biggest effect (I left my salt tabs, which I normally take pre-race, at home resulting in pain and misery at about 80km on the bike),
- Make sure you lather on the sunscreen, and possibly take the time in T1 and T2 to use the easy spray on sunscreen if you’re very fair or are going to be out for a long time. Tri-suit lines are not attractive!
- Don’t use new gels that you’ve never tried before on race day, even though a lovely lady gave you a whole fistful at the pre-race expo – those porta-loos aren’t for the feint hearted, especially on a hot day!
- If you train with socks, then wear socks. And wear well used socks.
And just because you’re a nice tri-athlete, please be mindful of those competing around you! If you accidentally mess up their transition area, fix it. If you drop their bike, replace it. And make sure you leave some room for your neighbour to rack their bike if you’re in before them. There is nothing worse than having to move bikes around and find your gear because someone else is an arse!
Even the pros sometimes have a bad day at the office. If you’ve not seen it before, this awesome display of sportsmanship from the Brownlee brothers shows the best way to have a bad day: