This post is rated Sprinters.
Day 3: socks vs. no socks from our “vs. series.”
Contrary to popular belief, socks are really not necessary in short distance triathlon racing. Ok, Ok, allow me to back up for just a minute in order to validate this statement. YOU NEED TO BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR SHOES (and the only real way to achieve that is to go through a proper fitting…more to come on that in a future post!)
If you LOVE your shoes and are confident in your running stride then socks are nothing more than an inconvenience. I understand that this may sound crazy, particularly if you have never run without socks! If you have ALWAYS worn socks, it is very likely intuitive that the very first thing you do when preparing for a run (save getting dressed and perhaps eating a light breakfast) is pulling on your socks. This is perfectly fine when you have the luxury of executing a training run on a lazy Saturday morning…
What I am trying to accomplish with this series of posts is to give you a race day advantage that you might not have considered on your own. Remember, this is information that I have picked up along the way that I would now love to share for the purpose of improved race day performance. In normal every day life socks are a part of your wardrobe and fit in with your daily ritual of getting dressing. BUT, we are not talking about your day to day…we are discussing race day and everything you control to ensure a faster race time.
Along the course of a sprint triathlon you are challenged with a 500 to 800 meter swim, a 12 to 20 mile bike ride (both of which do NOT require socks) and 3.2 mile run. Synonymous with the category “sprint triathlon” is SPEED. Anything you can do to get to the finish line faster than your competition is going to benefit you. There is only so much training that can go into faster swim, bike and run times. The transition areas represent an incredible opportunity to gain an advantage.
The quicker you move through the motions of T1 and T2, the faster your overall finish time will be. Let’s review the necessities of both transition areas:
T1: you must remove your goggles and swim cap; you must affix your helmet to your head and cycling shoes to your feet. Optional activities include putting on sunglasses, applying sunscreen and removing wetsuit. Aside from that, you are now on your bike and busting your tail to get back to T2!
T2: you must remove your helmet and cycling shoes (maybe not. You could perform the run in your cycling shoes and helmet but I would highly advise against it!) You must put on your race belt so that the timing agent can identify you at the finish line. YOU MUST NOT NEGLECT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: you must leave T2 with your running shoes fastened securely to your feet. Up to this point, you have spent precious seconds on the previous requirements. If you are truly focused on getting to the finish line, you are thinking about ANYTHING you can do without.
It is at this point that the subject of this post becomes valuable. Think about the time it takes to put on socks. While reading this statement you may be tempted to think…”what the heck, it only takes me 5 seconds to put my socks on; and what if I get blisters by going without?” This is where my initial thought becomes relevant: “you need to be confident in your shoes.” YOU DO NOT NEED YOUR SOCKS, SAVE THE 5 SECONDS AND GO WITHOUT.
I know this sounds crazy, but all I ask is that you TRI!