Every time we race, we make mistakes and things don’t go as planned. Instead of seeing these things as annoyances and getting discouraged, we try to learn from them. I love hearing other people’s triathlon training and race day tips and tricks and so here are a few of the things we’ve learned that we hope will help you in your triathlon training and on race day.
1. Body Glide is your friend – For some reason, I’ve recently started to chafe in my armpits. I have no idea why. This has never happened before, but all I have to say about this is thank God for Body Glide because chafing hurts! If you’re susceptible to chafing, grab yourself a stick of this magical stuff and say goodbye to painful, burning chafing. Body Glide makes for a much more comfortable race and it will make your triathlon training much more enjoyable too. Davey also wishes he had some Body Glide at this race…
2. Know how to use your Garmin (or any other electronics) before the race – A week before our race, Jess surprised me with a Garmin for my birthday.
I had used it on our last few triathlon training workouts leading up to the race and I thought I knew how to use it for the actual triathlon. Although I swam, biked and ran with it, I didn’t know that I was supposed to press the lap button after each sport as well as after my transitions. I was pretty frustrated because I was looking forward to seeing my pace and my time during the race, but my Garmin counted my bike time as T1. That’s the longest T1 in history!
Anyway, if you are using a new watch or a speedometer or some other gadget for your race, make sure you practice and know exactly how to use it before your race.
3. Have an extra water bottle to rinse off your feet – The run from the swim exit to the transition area was painful. Although the ground was paved, it was not smooth and there was a ton of sharp gravel all over the road. What’s worse than running on gravel? Having it in your shoes for the bike and the run. I was so glad I had an extra water bottle to rinse all these annoying pieces of dirt and gravel off my feet. Most of the time, you will have to run on some kind of gravel, sand or dirt when you exit the swim, so be prepared and make sure you have either an extra water bottle or a towel to wipe your feet off. You’ll have a much more comfortable race without rocks and sand in your socks.
4. Practice your nutrition – When you make the jump from a Sprint Triathlon to an Olympic Triathlon, nutrition becomes more important since your body needs more fuel to help you cover the longer distance. Make sure you find a bar, a gel, a gu, a sports drink that works for you and sits well with your stomach before race day. We love Huma Gel, Clif Shot Blocks and Cytomax.
It’s really helpful if you cut the package of your gel or gu open before the race. That way it’s ready to eat instead of fumbling and trying to open it.
Aside from knowing what fuel works for you, make sure you know when you need it. Since we had ridden the bike course in our training, I knew that I’d need some fuel at about mile 7, right before the huge hill and at the turn around point. I took sips of my water and Cytomax about every 10-15 minutes to stay hydrated as well.
Training is the perfect time to test out different fuels… NOT race day. On the running course, I had my Shot Blocks in my pocket, but at every water table there were Gu’s, pretzels and bars that I was so tempted to eat, but I resisted the urge because I didn’t know how they’d make me feel. And running with an upset stomach or nausea is NOT fun. So practice your nutrition before the race and stick with it!
5. Smile for the camera – I don’t know if you could tell from the pictures in our race review, but Davey and I love to pose for the race photographers. Since our families live in CA and NJ, we haven’t had any fans at any of our last few races to take pictures, so we try to make sure we get some good race pictures from the official photographers. This is just a fun little tip, but we really enjoy looking back at our pictures and remembering how we felt at that moment.
6. Create a personal mantra – We just went to a conference and the keynote speaker was Kyle Maynard.
Something simple that Davey and I have started saying to each other when we feel like quitting is “Easy peasy. You could do this all day”. This has been particularly helpful in our marathon training and during our triathlons.
We also think that brick training, specifically for Sprint and Olympic Triathlons, is very helpful, but at the very least, make sure you have swam, biked and run each distance separately in your triathlon training. That way, on race day, you can remind yourself that you’ve done this distance before. And sometimes it’s that simple reminder that gives you the motivation to keep moving forward.
7. Soak up every moment and enjoy the journey – We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE race day. We always have so much fun and after the race, our faces hurt from smiling so much during the race. Triathlon is a sport that we both enjoy very much. On of our goals for every race is to soak up every moment and enjoy the day and to practice gratefulness and thankfulness as we’re swimming, biking and running.
Although we think that race day is AWESOME, we also make a point to enjoy and soak up every moment of our training. It is really easy to have tunnel vision and see your triathlon training as a means to an end, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a journey of ups and downs, of growth and of discovery. It sometimes includes pain and challenges you’d otherwise not face, but looking back, it feels so amazing to see how you’ve overcome them and are a stronger triathlete, and person, because of it. So enjoy the journey and document your progress along the way so that you can look back and see how far you’ve come!
8. Celebrate your accomplishment and all your hard work and training – Training for a triathlon of any length requires commitment, dedication, sacrifice and hard work. Make sure you take some time to celebrate your awesome accomplishment and all of the time and effort you put into reaching your goal and crossing the finish line.
Enjoy your favorite food, treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers, take a nap, throw a party… just do something to celebrate… you earned it! It will make crossing the finish line that much sweeter! We usually put our healthy eating on hold and splurge on a juicy burger and fries or a pizza. It’s worth every calorie
What are some of your favorite race day tips or some helpful things you’ve learned from your triathlons?