New to Triathon - FAQ
We were all new to the sport of triathlon at some point, and most of us had many of the same questions. This page was developed to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
How do I train?
Remember.....everyone is an individual and we all have different needs. You should ask yourself some questions: how much time can I give up for my training and still maintain balance with work/ family/ friends? Be realistic about your goals.
As far as the training itself goes, picking up a triathlon training book at your local book store is oftentimes a great place to begin putting together a workout plan. The amount of training depends on your level of fitness, comfort level with each individual sport, amount of time you have available, and the distance of the race you've chosen.
In general, it's a good idea to do each activity at least twice per week, increasing your distances gradually. Don't forget that weight training should be an integral component of a training program. Quite often, people's goals are simply to finish the race, enjoy the experience and see what it's all about.
What do I wear for the race?
Many guys wear a singlet (tight tank top) and a speedo or tri shorts or running shorts and a singlet/tank top. Many women wear a sports bra and tri bottoms and then pull on run shorts and maybe a tank top in the swim-to-bike transition. The tri bottoms are simply bike shorts with a much thinner pad that will breathe nicely and dry fast.
Wear clothing that will fit comfortably under your wetsuit. Avoid cotton and stick to the "tech" fabrics whenever possible.
How do I set up and do my transition?
If you have a choice for where to rack your bike, pick a spot that you will be able to find EASILY. Maybe this is the last rack in the row or maybe this is the rack next to a tree or other marker. Sometimes you will not have a choice and the race officials will decide for you. In this case you might want to bring your own marker: a balloon, neon tape, duct-tape, a teddy bear whatever works for you! Make it visible.
Do a practice run-through before the start and make sure you can find your area. Set your stuff up on a towel in the order that you'll need it. Be tidy. The more organized you are now the faster you will be later. Also, be sure to hang your bike by the seat. And don't be shy to look around and copy what other folks are doing – we can all learn something from one another!
When setting up your bike it's a good time to stop and think about your nutrition for a moment. Think about easy access. Many people tape gels to the frame of their bike, or maybe you have already pinned some of these to your race belt or outfit. This way you can just reach down and tear one off instead of fumbling around for it in a pocket.
Now that you're all set up how do you get out of that wetsuit? It's never pretty. And like your transition area, it's all about how well you prepared beforehand. Use a body lubricant generously around your ankles and wrists to avoid having to hop around like a lunatic in a straightjacket.
When exiting the transition area with your bike it is a good idea to steer it by holding the seat, rather than the handlebars. This will help keep you from mangling your shins on the pedals as you go. Practice running with your bike in your bike shoes.
Coming back in from the bike is called T2 (transition area 2). By this point, simple tasks like tying a pair of running shoes can seem a bit involved. A suggestion might be to try out elastic laces or a quick-cinch like you find on a backpack. Try several easy on/easy off options and see what one works best for you.
No matter how you set yourself up it is always best to practice your transitions before race day comes along. Now that you're a triathlete you no longer can simply think about swimming, biking and running – but how you're going to get from one to the other as well!
What should I do for my nutrition?
Again this is individual; it's a trial and error process. As much as you are training physically for the race, you need to train nutritionally. As you get some races under your belt you will know what works for you. One important piece of advice: race day is not the time to try anything new! Train with what you'll be racing with. Often this can mean doing some detective work and finding out what kind of sports drink/bars/gel are offered at your race and then train with that. If that doesn't work for you, then plan on bringing your own.
During the race – For a sprint distance you will likely not need anything except water or maybe a sports drink. For an Olympic distance or longer you need to develop an eating/drinking plan. What has worked for you in training? What are the weather conditions expected for the race? Is it going to be hot? If so make sure you are not just drinking water, you will need a sports drink to replace the electrolytes and salts you will lose through sweating. Do you need solid food? The gel-based supplements (PowerGel, Goo, Clif Shot, etc.) are based on simple carbohydrates/sugars that will enter your system quickly. You need to drink water with them. They will last in your system for about 45 minutes. The bars (Cliff bars, Power bars, etc) are composed of more complex carbohydrate and will take longer to get into your system. They are not a quick fix. For endurance sports, combing the benefits of both is a good way to go.
None of the information on this page is intended to be a substitute for a doctor's or nutritionalist's advice or the individual training supplied by a real coach. We hope we've provided you with some basic information to use as a starting point.
The sport of Triathlon is very exciting and addictive! Get involved!
The Willamette Valley Triathletes Club hopes to provide you with a fun and supportive environment, people to train with, and resources for information.
See you at the races!