Beginner Triathlete FAQs
Many of you requested some tips for your 1st race, so we gathered the Top 10 FAQs for you. Enjoy!
What are some reasonable goals for my 1st multisport race?
Depends on your fitness level but you can't go wrong with:
- Finish tired but feel good about my new accomplishment
- Know where you can improve on for the next race
- Push myself so I don't "leave too much on the course"
- Meet other multisport athletes to share experiences with
- Do some math on what each component should take individually, then add transition times (2 of them) and "fatigue time" for a total estimate
What should I know about the Transition Area (TA)?
Main things are to:
- Get organized in the row that corresponds to your race #
- Rack your back tire in the bike rack and set your towel and gear to the right of the bike
- Mountain bike owners should consider ignoring their assigned spot and rest their bike on the "Mountain Bike Island" in the TA and organize their gear there
- You must walk or run your bike in and out of the TA - do not ride it in the TA
- 3-4 Max RDs are in the TA to answer questions before and during the race, just wave your hand
Have any bike tips to make the ride safer and faster?
Tons - we publish them in our monthly newsletters. Here are some:
- Ride under control and pass on the left only
- Tell other riders you're passing them
- Feather your brakes before each turn
- Watch out for painted circles on the road marking bad patches
- Remember to hydrate during the ride if you can
Do I have to memorize the bike and run courses?
No. There is someone directing you at every bike and run turn; all bike turns are right.
How do I qualify for cool Sponsor Giveaways?
You already did. There are over 35 random drawings based on race #s and luck. They are called out at the same time awards are given.
Are there special awards for us brave newbies?
Yes. Top 3 newbie places in men and women divisions.
Where can I find USAT rules?
An abbreviated version is linked on the bottom of the Races & Registration page.
What are Swim Waves?
We group swimmers together in categories or waves to smooth out race flow. You will have a
colored cap associated with your wave. You must start in your designated wave since your
race time corresponds with your wave start. All waves are marshaled together at the beach
for the start, then each wave is directed by a Max RD into the water for their respective start.
Are there waves for the Duathletes also?
Yes - 1 wave; everyone starts together at the start line near the TA.
Where do I wear my Timing Chip?
Fasten it to your ankle before the race starts; we recommend your left ankle to avoid possible conflict with your bike chain.
What do I wear during the race and when do I put it on?
Men - pick up a pair of tri-pants online or at Quad Multisport and wear them the entire race. The shirt should be a wick away type. You can put it on under a wetsuit before the swim or before you start the bike portion if you didn’t wear a wetsuit.
Women - generally most wear a sports bra under a tri top or bathing suit. Some just wear a tri top that has a supportive enough inner bra to support a woman’s anatomy. Tri pants work for women also or they slip on bike pants after the swim over their bathing suit, then take them off before the run.
Do I wear my race number during the swim portion?
Not usually. Body marking will suffice. Some triathletes wear their race shirt under their wetsuit with the number on it though. Also see the Race Belt FAQ below.
What’s the best way to show your race numbers for race speed and picture opportunities?
Buy a race number belt and fasten your number to it prior to the race start. Loop the belt on your handle bars and put it on before the bike portion of the race.
How can I get faster times on the bike portion of a triathlon?
Short answer - train more on the bike. Since the bike represents around ½ of total race time, it should not be underemphasized too much. We will provide you some really great bike tips if you send us an email request.
How much do I eat before a race?
Since this is for beginner triathletes, we’re assuming you’re doing Sprints or Olympic distance races. Therefore, you do not have to eat too much race morning, especially if you carbo loaded the night before. Keep it reasonable (e.g. bagel, banana and sports drink) and test out your proposed race day breakfast plan before a training session to see if it fits.
What do I consume during a race?
Usually just a sports drink, water and maybe a gel or two. Solid food is difficult to convert to energy within the time frame your body needs it.
I would bet there are some things to avoid in my first few triathlon races. What are some of the more common traps to watch out for?
Going out too fast in the swim - just peruse our July 2008 article titled "How to avoid a Panic Attack" and you'll know why we recommend going out slowwww.
It's much easier to pick up the pace as you get in a swim groove and the wave thins out then it is to get your composure and catch your breath because you went out too quickly.
Accelerating your training program too quickly - competitiveness can help cause you to want to go faster and/or farther too soon. You can give it a shot but your risk of
injury is probably commensurate. Try and incrementally add to your speed and mileage throughout your season at a practical and comfortable rate, e.g. 10-15% is a reasonable increment.
Trying something new on race day - sometimes it's a wetsuit, nutrition gel and/or piece of equipment. It may work out but it will increase added complexity or stress. So, we
recommend to stay in your comfort zone and mimic race day everything prior to the race. Try new things in training before making them part of your race routine.
Eating too much on race morning - all the articles on carb-loading, glycogen and ironman stuff dominate the tri-media. It generally doesn't apply to Sprint or Olympic distance
races though. So, eat a reasonable amount 2-3 hours (yes, that's getting up real early) before the race, maybe equivalent to what you've done before a hard workout - hint, see above.
Not doing enough open water swimming - This is probably the most common reason for 1st tri panic attack on the swim. Realistically, even after your 1st tri, you need additional
time in the open water to get use to the feeling of not being between lane lines, having people surround you and sighting towards buoys.
Not resting enough before the race - and we don't mean the day before. Many triathletes train very hard the week of the race and don't give their muscles enough time to heal
and get rested. Are you really gaining necessary fitness the week of a race or disproportionately risking injury? So, try the "taper" thing the week of the race by cutting pretty
far back on training (e.g. 40-50%). Workout at comfortable paces to keep your muscles loose and trust your preparation and race day excitement to have a good race.
Not drinking on the bike portion - cool breezes, a quick 12-miles, etc. cause many folks to come into the transition area with full water/drink bottles on their bike. Why carry
the extra weight if you're not going to drink it? Drinking does really help replace lost fluids and carbs that you'll need for the run. Plus, one bottle should be plenty, no more
or you may actually over-hydrate.