Triathlon tips & hacks for beginner, intermediate and advanced triathletes - Team Emgus
In this blog we’re going to share some of our triathlon tips and hacks that we hope you find beneficial whether you’re a newbie to the sport or an experienced athlete. Before we get into the blog, we’ll quickly introduce ourselves. We are Emily and Angus - we met through triathlon in 2015 and fell in love while training and racing together and compete as a couple (Team Emgus). We’ve both represented GBR at age-group level and have been on podiums at several National and British Championships.
Emily: Be organised, the evening before a race Angus and I have a checklist we go through together while we pack our bags, Angus also gives our bikes a quick check over (I’d probably do more damage than good if I did this part haha), we pack plenty of spares (food, clothes, inner tubes, goggles... you name it, we’ve got it!). The same goes with race day – arrive with plenty of time so you can get your transition set up just how you like it, familiarise yourself with the transition layout and race area and have a bit of time to relax before the race starts without having to rush through it all and potentially forget to do something.
Angus: Don’t forget some sun cream! This tip comes from experience – races often start before the sun has chance to come up so it can easily be forgotten, and you may not feel like you need it when you are getting ready to race, but check the weather forecast ahead of race-day and keep a bottle of sun cream in your transition bag so you can avoid tri-suit burn lines! Also make sure you get a good breakfast on race day that your body is used to eating before exercising so as not to cause any tummy troubles on race day – more on this in our next blog about pre-race nutrition.
Emily: My main transition tip is to keep it simple and clean. I’m a little more cautious when it comes to the transition element of a triathlon and prefer to put may cycling shoes on in transition before getting on the bike – for the more advanced of you then Angus’ section below will give you some advice on flying mounts/dismounts! Here are a few pictures of my set up:
I use talc and Vaseline in my shoes to avoid blisters and make my feet happier (shake a little talc in both shoes and rub some Vaseline inside the heel and arch of the shoes as these are where usually rub if you are going bare foot). You could also wear socks if you’d rather be a little comfier. A tip if you’re going to go with socks would be to roll them up so you can slip your feet in them easily when transition from the swim to the bike. Elastic laces in your run shoes are also a game changer for speeding up your transition.
Angus: Similar to Emily’s first tip, in transition less is definitely more as you don’t want to have too many things there to faff with mid-race. I have my cycling shoes already clipped into my pedals so I can put my shoes on when on the bike to save a few precious seconds, and then it’s just my running shoes, cycling helmet and number belt on the floor, all setup so they’re as easy as possible to put on in a rush. If it’s an open water/wetsuit legal swim then I have my number belt on under my wetsuit so that’s another thing I don’t have to think about putting on in transition. Finally, practice definitely makes perfect when it comes to flying mounts and dismounts (when you have your shoes already clipped into your pedals) as I’m sure you’ve seen it can be spectacular when it goes wrong. Find a quiet road near you and spend plenty of time working on this, starting off going through it all slowly before gradually speeding it up until you are confident you can do it at race speed.
Emily: If you’re a little nervous about the swim and you have the opportunity to get into the water before the start, I recommend taking advantage of that, get yourself into the water gently and get used to the temperature and surroundings. Staying further back or away from the ‘racing line’ can help you avoid the chaos at the start if you’d rather not get involved in it all.
Angus: For races with open water swims, I’d definitely recommend getting into the water as soon as you are allowed and doing a few strokes to get acclimatised and ready. Making yourself a little bit of room on the start line is also handy so you don’t end up being dunked as soon as the starting horn goes! No matter how strong a swimmer you are, you’ll want to try to get into a group of similar ability (or slightly stronger!) athletes so you can draft and save some energy for the rest of the race. This does take a bit of practicing to get right so give it a go in your next club swimming session!
Emily: Try and keep a high cadence, especially towards the end of the bike route – your legs will thank you later. Also remember to keep drinking, it’s easy to forget but it’s very important to keep hydrated.
Angus: Spend the first couple of mins getting comfortable and your body & legs used to cycling before you can really start to put the power down and settle into the race. At the other end of the bike leg, I like to drop down a gear for the last 5 mins or so to increase my cadence and flush out as much lactic acid as possible before going onto the run.
Emily: Pace, pace, pace. Don’t go out too hard and burn out before the finish, its best to start easier and then pick it up if you can in the second half.
Angus: Enjoy it (as much as possible)! You’re on the third and final leg of the race and there isn’t long left before it’ll all be over and you can have a lie down. Also accept the fact that your legs will feel like jelly for at least the first couple of minutes – you’ll get used to the feeling after doing a few triathlons! Finally, I’d also try to break the run down into smaller segments (eg. each lap or getting to the next tree etc.) as this can help make it seem a bit more manageable and motivate you to get to the finish.
Emily: Be positive and proud – don’t get stuck on the negatives, like if part of the race didn’t go to plan, focus on the positives and enjoy the post-race atmosphere! There’s plenty time to reflect on specifics of the race later to see where you can improve for the next one.
Angus: Get yourself some well-earned food and make sure you have something to drink (just water or a recovery drink) – it’s very easy to forget to do this but you’ll likely be a bit dehydrated after racing so it’s really important.
Thanks for reading our blog about various tri-tips and hacks that we hope have been useful to you whether you are a beginner triathlete or a well-seasoned racer. Keep an eye out for our next blog of this series, which is around race week training and nutrition and will be coming soon!
Emily & Angus