Pool Triathlon Racing Tips
By Coach Lora Erickson, BlondeRunner.com
There are many things you can do to maximize your effort during a pool triathlon to make it a great experience and improve your time. Here are some tips to follow:
Wear a Tri Top & Bottom
The anxiety you feel when you are doing your first triathlon is similar to what you might feel when you go on a date, “What am I going to wear?!” I remember this question abruptly popping into my head the night before my first triathlon. I hadn’t really considered it before then; I was too worried about preparing my body and training. I certainly didn’t want to look like a total beginner, even though I was and wasn’t about to announce it over the loud speaker by wearing something that would sound-the-alarm but it was too late to do anything else so I ended up wearing my swim suit and painfully pulling on dry cycling shorts and a top over a wet body after the swim. (It’s a very good workout – let’s just put it that way. I am surprised I didn’t pull a muscle). While this still works, sort of, I would suggest wearing a tri top and bottom that you swim, bike and run in. These clothes are particularly designed for competing in triathlons. Below you can see a picture of me and my son in our my Team Blonde Runner (TBR) triathlon team gear.
Use Elastic Laces & Race Number Belt
Another suggestion I would make is use elastic laces. These make it easy to slip on your running shoes without having to tie them, which can nearly be an impossible task with frozen hands on a cold morning race. A race number belt can also prove helpful and allow you to do as much “on-the-fly” as possible.
I always like to say, “It’s easier to take off one minute in transitions than 20 seconds per mile on the run.” With this said, practicing your transitions and making decisions before hand; like, if you will wear socks are not. And yes, transition time is counted in your overall triathlon time.
Use the Walls & Streamline While Swimming
One of the huge advantages of a pool triathlons is having the opportunity of utilizing the wall and pushing off. Too often I see athletes just go off the wall like a “stop-n-turn-around” or go under the lane line without really using the walls. It’s okay to push off the wall and swim underwater for a little bit. To streamline off the wall you will want to look straight down at the bottom of the pool and extend your arms straight out above your head and over your ears. “Blast-off” the wall and do a few dolphin kicks before you surface and stroke. If you master this skill you will shave off a lot of time.
I highly suggest picking up your packet early (rather than race morning). This will allow you to put the race number on your bike as well as read any last minute instructions or changes they might have given you in your packet. Get your bike ready the night before (ie. pump up tires, place your race number). Be sure when you put the bike number on your top tube you don’t stick it on your brake cable or you won’t have a break. I also recommend packing all your gear in a bag the day or two before. This will help you be sure you have everything and give you time to run to the store if you don’t. Here’s a handy list I use when I pack. Check off list
Understand Brick Workouts
All seasoned triathletes understand the value of doing brick workouts. A brick workout is a ride to run (one immediately after the other). This is a great time to practice your transitions too. Yes, your legs feel like “bricks” thus the name. Over time this transition from cycling to running will become easier as you incorporate brick workouts into your training.
Beginners Should Hire a Coach if Possible
There is a lot to learn about triathlons and if you are planning on moving to open water I suggest hiring a coach. Both “slow” and “fast” athletes can benefit from coaching. Most world class athletes have coaches, most people simply don’t reach their potential on their own. Or certainly not as fast as they could have. But not every person is a “coachable” athlete. Are you a coachable athlete? Read this post to find out http://blonderunner.com/2012/05/be-a-coachable-athlete/
I particularly love to work with beginners and have coached many “average” athletes to the top of the podium after having help to develop the “advanced athlete” I saw in them. There is nothing more rewarding to a coach than seeing an athlete reach his or her true potential!
Want to train with a coached team? Join www.TeamBlondeRunner.com.
Coach Lora Erickson
Coach Lora Erickson is a competitive runner and nationally ranked triathlete with over 26 years of athletic experience. Lora has a true passion for health promotion, her enthusiasm is contagious. As a USATF certified coach, Lora works with individuals as well as offering group/team training programs and various community classes. To learn more visit www.BlondeRunner.com or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.