This post is rated Sprinters.
First and foremost, I would love to know when and where your first race of the season will be. Please share as a comment to this post!
Let’s talk preparation! Are you excited, nervous maybe a little bit of both? Let me assure you that you are going to have the experience of a lifetime!
I would like to provide some practical advice as you prepare for your sprint triathlon this season. Let’s break it down by sport and include pre-race nutrition.
Due to the short distance of the race your body will not need a surplus of calories on race morning. I would recommend something light and most definitely something that is familiar. The last thing you want to do is try something new on race morning! Some good options could be a Boost or Ensure. A banana and half of a Powerbar or a piece of white toast with peanut butter. You want to be finished with your meal at least 60 minutes ahead of start time.
With sprint distance races the swim is generally between 500 and 1200 yards. First time triathletes find the swim portion of the race to be the most unnerving. You will most likely start in time-trial fashion and be seeded according to your estimated swim time. This type of start creates a more fluid, less hectic entrance into the water. I would recommend that you put your swim cap on first with goggles on top. Sometimes, goggles beneath the swim cap causes uneven surfaces on your face which could lead to leaky goggles. You do not want water coming into your goggles once you are swimming! If you have never practiced open water swimming, the first thing you will notice is that you cannot see the bottom. Do not panic, just trust your stroke and make forward progress. Do not forget to breathe!
Do not mount your bike until your helmet is on and securely fastened. I cannot stress that enough..Once out on the bike course, resist the urge to hammer right out of the gates. You could experience heavy traffic as other athletes are transitioning beside you. Your heart will be pounding but its crucial to work your way into a smooth cadence. Once you get to mile 5 you can start to open things up a bit! You won’t need any nutrition other than water so your focus should be on the road ahead. Depending on the terrain, I would recommend a saddle break every 2 miles. Oh yeah, don’t forget to smile as you ride!
I cannot tell you how many athletes I have seen start the run without removing their helmets! I guess you could run with your helmet on, but I promise you a hat or visor will feel much better! You now have a 5K to the finish line; you are almost there! If you’ve heard the term “brick” associated with triathlon this is when it applies. Your legs have been circling for the last 30 to 45 minutes, now they will be striding. This is an awkward transition until you get used to it. (More to come on “brick training” in a later post.) Once again, do the distance of the race your body will not require any additional calories so your focus can be strictly on your stride. Start off at a pace that feels slow. It is much easier to speed up as the race progresses than slow down due to a “bonk” (once again, more to come on “bonking” in a later post.) Focus on your race and run your pace. Do not allow other athletes to dictate your speed as that is a recipe for disaster. After the first mile if you feel strong, speed up by all means. I want to make sure you get to the finish line and experience the thrill of finishing.
Just a little practical advice, BUT I know you’re gonna rock!