Triathlon Advice

Little Girl SpectatorThe friendly, informal Witt Tri is the ideal event for your first-ever triathlon. Here's some advice for first-timers:

  • Above all, learn how to pace yourself! Figure out what level of exertion you can sustain for 2-3 hours. Then slow down and don't exceed that exertion level.
  • Many people who consider tri's are comfortable runners who know how to bike somewhat and can figure out how to splash through a pool without drowning. For those types, I'd suggest working on swimming until you can find a good, slow, sustainable, rhythmic swimming stroke that lets you breathe regularly and easily. Then you won't be so tired when you get out of the pool.
  • Most of the event time in a tri is spent on the bike. And everybody knows how to ride a bike -- recreationally. But people who are new to cycling for fitness and exercise should definitely gear down on the bike! Novice cyclists usually choose too high a gear, and they end up burning out their leg muscles because they're pushing way too hard on the pedals. You should choose a low enough gear that you can spin the pedals freely at about 90-100 cycles per minute (about 1.5 times per second!) without putting a lot of force on your feet. That's a lot kinder on your muscles - and your joints - and you won't get as fatigued as quickly.
  • At some point you should practice the transition between biking and running, just to know what it feels like as you switch from one set of muscles to another. So immediately after a few bike rides, put on the running shoes and run a bit - even if just for a couple minutes.
  • Start the run slowly, with a short stride length, until you feel more comfortable with the running motion after all that time on the bike saddle.
  • Remember that the routes aren't marked, so be sure to drive/ride/run through the routes ahead of time.
  • Throughout the day before and on the morning of the event, hydrate fully and eat good carb-rich meals. Get lots of rest the night before. On the morning of the event, warm up your muscles slowly but thoroughly, and stretch gently.
  • On a long workout like this, your cells will run out of energy. Be sure to consume some simple carbohydrates during the event, and eat/drink before you feel hungry/thirsty and start to bonk. (You might wait until after you get out of the pool, though.) Bananas, carrots, sport drink, and energy bars are good sources of what you will need to stay fueled throughout the event.
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