Taking it to the next level!

So you have already done a triathlon, or maybe you haven’t done one yet, but you have watched one. Either way, your goal is not just to finish; you want to go as fast as you can. What do you do?

You are not alone in wanting to find ways to get to the finish line faster. There is a lot of information available offering tips about how to finish your first triathlon, but if your goal is not just to finish but to address the details that get you to the finish line faster, read on…

Here are some tips to help you take your performance to the next level:

1) Know the course

a. Look at swim, bike, and run course maps.

  • You don’t want to go off–course. Remember, you are responsible to know the course.
  • You want to know exactly what you are getting yourself into (distance, terrain, weather).

b. Look at the transition layout

  • Know the Swim-In, Bike-Out, Bike-In, and Run-Out, and figure out a good place to set up your transition area to help you move through T1 and T2 quickly.
  • Know other logistical issues. For example, some courses have a long run between the swim and bike, while other courses have the swim and T1 area very close.
  • Notice any ‘interesting’ terrain between the swim exit and T1… For example, there may also be a challenging hill to run up between the swim and bike. Don’t be surprised on race day!


2) Train specifically for the event

a. Train appropriately

  • If your goal is to do a sprint triathlon this year like TriZoo, you don’t need to bike 50 miles and run 10 miles in training. Instead, you may want to work on biking and running faster!

b. Know the course. (emphasizing point 1)

  • Hilly courses have some challenging hills on both the bike and run – practice riding/running hills.
  • Pool swims are serpentine swims, so it is worth your time to practice going under lane lines without slowing down too much.
  • Open water swims are a lot different than pool swims. Practice swimming in open water with and without a wetsuit. Swim on the race course if possible.

c. Get on course if possible. The best preparation for any race is to train on the race course.

  • Work on technical sections. For example, if a course has some very technical sections that, if you know the course, you can save time.
  • Strategize where to ‘burn a match.’ Many times, races are won by the smartest athlete, not the fastest.

d. Practice transitions (see THIS ARTICLE)

e. Practice T1 and T2 in your driveway or in a parking lot.

f.  An efficient transition is FREE SPEED (30 seconds saved in transition is worth 10 seconds per mile in a 5k).


3) Set goals

a. Look at previous results.

  • If a friend did the same race you want to do, look at his/her times.
  • Think about your abilities relative to theirs.

b. Keep these goals in perspective

  • Race conditions (temperature, wind, etc.) can greatly affect time.
  • Be flexible in your expectations and be willing to change your time goals based on conditions.


4) Cross the finish line with NO REGRETS!

a. Know that you prepared in a way that allows you to give this race your best effort.

b. Learn from this race and apply these lessons to future races.

  • Realize that, if you are truly passionate about triathlon and improving your performance you will look back on this race and identify positives and negatives.
  • Repeat the positive things
  • Learn from the negative things and improve them!


5) Have fun!