January 23, 2018

Tips For Your First Race

Jarrett Pflieger

So you signed up for your first triathlon in 2010; that is a great first step. Now it is time to put in the work. The first thing you need to do is accept you will not have a perfect race, or set any course records your first time out. Too many athletes go into their first few races with their hopes set too high, which creates excessive nerves and a bitter feeling when they don’t live up to their own lofty expectations.

If you are the opposite and are afraid of being the last one across the line, I can guarantee that will not happen if you train hard and prepare yourself. Even if you are last across the line, think of all the people that didn’t finish. Even if you are unable to finish, think of the millions of people that don’t even have the ability or will to get out there and do this in the first place.

There is nothing wrong with not finishing, being slow, or not reaching your goal times. Once you stop thinking about that and concentrate on going out there and racing to your abilities, you will have a lot more fun and probably be faster as well.

Here are a few more tips on how you can have a successful race:

1.Train how you race
If you are racing a sprint distance, train for a sprint distance. If you train around an eight minute/mile pace, don’t expect to sustain a seven minute/mile pace in your race. Know the distances of your race and first make sure you can make it that distance. Only then should you concentrate on increasing your speed.

2. Relax
You are going to be nervous on race day; it is inevitable. Just make sure your nerves don’t overwhelm you and affect your performance. Always picture success in your mind and visualize your perfect race. This is supposed to be for fun, enjoy the day and don’t get too caught up in the competitiveness just yet.

3. Practice
If your first race is also your first day of training, you are probably not going to have much fun, unless you are already an experience swimmer, cyclist, or runner and/or in excellent shape. You need to practice everything you will be doing or could experience on race day including transitions, mounting/dismounting your bike, changing a flat, and of course swim/bike/run.

4. Don’ try anything new
Don’t try anything that you haven’t already done in training. That goes for pacing, race nutrition and fluid intake, equipment, technique, etc. Even experienced triathletes struggle with this, always looking for the last minute edge. More often than not, it ends up hindering performance.

5. Prepare for mistakes
You will probably make mistakes. Just prepare for them and accept them when they come. So what if you swim off course, just get your bearings back and head for the next buoy. Who cares if you go out too fast on the run and have to drop the pace a bit. Just be ready to correct any mistakes you make or just forget about them and move on.

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