Completing your first triathlon at Blenheim? Race day fast approaching? Here’s some tips for the final couple of weeks leading up to the big day.
Last Minute Training
Hopefully you’ve completed most of your training right now, just incase you need some final tips, check out what sessions we’ve still got coming up and in the future.
For your first triathlon at super sprint or sprint distance cutting down your training volume isn’t essential for most people in the two weeks leading up to the race, since the race is quite short. Simply get two or three good rest days before your race day and ensure you get some good quality sleep.
Carbo(hydrate)-loading isn’t of great importance since your body has enough energy stored naturally for about 2 hours of exercise. Just eat a normal meal the night before and try and stay off the wine so you’ve got a clear head in the morning!
· Spectator tickets
· Athlete security wristband
Race numbers correctly fixed to bike, helmet and clothing/race belt.Fill out medical details on the back of your race numberPhoto identification (e.g. driver’s license, passport)Collect timing chip upon arrivalWarm clothing for afterwards
· Swimming costume or tri suit (Ladies- sports bra underneath if desired, no undies)
· A swimming specific wetsuit that fits properly (contact us to hire or purchase one)
· Goggles that fit properly, ideally polarized for sunny days or clear for overcast days (swimming or OW specific, it doesn’t matter)
· A latex swim hat to go under your race hat for cold water conditions (tip- put goggles in between hats so they don’t get knocked off)
· Optional: lubricant (e.g. Bodyglide), to put on your neck to prevent chafing from the wetsuit
· Optional: Travel towel to dry your feet before putting your socks on
· Bike shoes
· Race belt with number on or pin number to front and back of t-shirt/vest/tri suit
· Water bottle
· Chamois cream if you need it to protect your sensitive areas ;-)
· Water not necessary as there is a water station on the route
So you’ve got the kit, done the training, now it’s time to do the race!
Have a normal breakfast at least 2 hours before such as porridge, muesli or toast. If you wish, sip an energy drink/water in the hour before the race and eat a banana and have a coffee 20 minutes before. This will easily give you plenty of available energy and make you adequately hydrated to race at your best.
Arrive about 2 hours before your start time to get your kit into transition, view your swim/bike/run/transition entry and exit points, get into your swim kits and get to the start on time! Get to the swim start 20 minutes before your start time. Collect your swim cap at the swim assembly point (start pen!). Listen carefully to the race briefing as conditions may have affected the race in some way. Start visualizing your race.
You won’t be able to get into the water to warm up properly, but definitely do a light jog and some dynamic arm/leg swings to prepare your mind and start warming up your body for exercise.
Once you’ve jumped or slid off the pontoon, you have up to five minutes before the race starts to practice getting your exhalation and sighting right. If you start getting anxious once in the water just remember to keep breathing out! Holding your breath will only cause the stored CO2 to make you feel more panicked.
Think about your estimated swim time and the competitors around you and select a reasonable start position. If you plan on leading the race- take the front line, if you’re going to take it steady choose a more appropriate place, which may be off to one side if you don’t fancy getting elbows and feet in your direction when the race starts.
During the Swim
One the start has happened it's time to put all that training into practice. Try not to start too hard unless you’ve trained to do so as you don’t want to blow up after the first 100m! Start steady and increase to a pace you can maintain for the distance. Drafting in swimming fair game and inevitable! Follow a slightly faster swimmer ‘s feet closely if you can, as this will save up to 38% of your energy expenditure for the bike and run. And don't be frustrated if someone is swimming close to you or on your feet, keep your mind on your own swim!
Sight the buoys regularly (every three breaths) in the open water so you swim straight- you don’t want to swim further than you have to by zig zagging! Is wimming freestyle/front crawl, sight before a breath, with just your eyes above the water and turn your head tot the side to breathe normally. The course is a straight 350/650m to the left turn buoy and 100m to the swim exit for the Super Sprint/Sprint courses respectively.
You can swim front crawl or breastroke, not backstroke as this can look like you’re in difficulty; if this happens lie on your back and raise your arm in the air, a kayak will come to you and if necessary arrange a safety boat to take you to the water’s edge.
When you reach the swim exit, undo your wetsuit and pull it down to your waist. Leave your goggles and hat on. Steady jog the 400m uphill to transition and start visualizing your transition routine.
Ideally have several practices of the skills needed in your training, don’t leave it until the day before!
• Hat, goggles & wetsuit off
• Socks, trainers/bike shoes on
• Vest/T-shirt on if not wearing tri-suit
• Race belt with number at the back (if you haven’t pinned it to the front and back of your tri suit/vest)
• Helmet done up BEFORE touching your bike, sunnies on
• Run with bike OVER the mount line
• Mount your bike (select the right gear to start on a gradual decline before you rack your bike)
You can complete a triathlon on any bike; you don’t need a super expensive TT bike!
As with the swim, take it easy at the start and pace yourself. You’ll know from your training the speed which feels comfortable to maintain. Remember to save some energy in your legs for the run!
It goes without saying to have studied the route map and know where you’re going. The bike course is two laps for the super sprint and three laps for the Sprint distance. You may wish to create a lap counting system- coloured sticky tape on your handlebars which you can rip off each lap works well. Drink with thirst as desired, no more than one 500ml bottle will be necessary for super/sprint- you don’t want too much undigested liquid sloshing round in your belly when you run causing discomfort.
The course is undulating, so some not too tough hills followed by some nice descents when you can rest your legs! You can view the bike course map and elevation here: https://www.mapmyride.com/gb/woodstock-eng/blenheim-triathlon-bike-course-route-18008372
To overtake shout ‘keep left’. Or if someone shouts that to you, then keep left to allow faster riders to overtake. You must be seen to be overtaking, not sitting in the 10m draft zone behind the rider in front.
Take it easy on last 2 minutes of the bike to flush legs, selecting an easy gear and cadence around 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) to match the ideal running cadence of 180 strides per minute (spm).
• Dismount bike BEFORE the dismount line, finding your own space if it’s crowded
• Take your time!
• Remember where your transition area is e.g. Row 15
• Run with bike and put on rack by the seat either forwards or backwards
• Helmet off AFTER you finish touching the bike
• Turn race number belt around so number is on your front
• Bike shoes off if wearing & trainers on
• Hat/visor on
• Have a drink or snack if you need one!
Run out of the transition and onto the course, taking care of other competitors racking their bikes. Again, pacing is key- especially at the start of the run when your body is adapting from a cycling to running posture. This is where most people start to flag as they go out too fast to try and over come their jelly legs, then get a really bad stitch and end up having to walk. Practice this transition (cycling then running) in your training- called brick sessions so you know what to expect. Take your time and you’ll be fine!
The run is one lap for the Super Sprint and two laps for the Sprint. It’s a combination of flat, gradual downhill and gradual uphills. Once you’ve climbed the last hill back up to the palace there’s only a couple of hundred meters left, so go for it! Sprint finish so you’ve nothing left in the tank! No one wants to end a race feeling they could have given more!
The best advice is always to go out there, have fun and enjoy yourself! Come and find our marquee on the finish line and let us know how you got on!