Tagged: equipment

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #27: Race-day training

I am a firm believer in efficiency and effectiveness in training. I don’t have the time, energy or attention span to plough away for mile after mile racking up insane training volumes. Sign me up for those things that allow me to achieve more in less time and have fun while doing so!

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today is #27: Race-day training

Prepare for race day with race-specific training eg open water swimming for triathletes

The triathlon season is long and there are many miles to be covered on the road to race day. Along the way do not neglect your race-specific training. What are the things that will save you minutes on race day and help you outperform your expectations?

Adapt your training to the course you plan on conquering. Get plenty of open water training done and be sure to note if the swim is in a lake or sea which can offer very different conditions on race day. Is the bike/run course hilly? Make sure you are training on hills otherwise the effort on race day will surprise you.

Open water swimming is far different and more chaotic than pool swimming. Be sure to tackle the currents, waves, lack of visibility of open water swimming. Work on your sighting so you do not end up swimming extra distance!

Brick workouts should be incorporated into your training. Swim and then bike, bike and then run. Help your muscles adapt to the changeover.

Nutrition is another element you can practice. What will your pre-race breakfast be? What snacks and fluids will you take during the race (be it in transition or on the bike)? Experiment with various foods and brands. You will like the taste of some and your body will reject others – make sure you find which ones before you ruin your race! Find out when and what quantity you should consume in and around your race – that is equally important. Nutrition can make a big difference.

Get your nutrition right for triathlon race day

Equipment is another variable that can make a difference. While a $10,000 carbon bike will help your cycling time, not all of us can afford that investment. Plus you’re doing it to push yourself anyway, right?! With so much equipment there are lots of choices and a lot of margin for error. What socks are comfortable and do not give you blisters? Do you have a pair of goggles that fit well and are comfortable? Are they tinted in case of sunny conditions and do you have a spare pair in case one breaks? Do you have a comfortable cap for the run and tri shorts? What sunglasses will you wear? These are all smaller items that will not make you faster, but knowing them will determine your comfort level and minimize stress in race week and on the day itself.

Practice your transitions – knowing your routine and making it second nature will be the difference between a 45 second transition and a 3 minute one, which in turn could be the difference between hitting your goal time or missing it. Practice what works for you in terms of order of events, whether to eat or not, do you put on socks for the bike, do you dry off with a towel or air dry? etc, etc.

Learn to fix a flat – Murphy’s Law will dictate that you will NEVER get a flat in training but halfway through the bike leg, BOTH your tyres will pop! Be prepared. Don’t end up sitting by the side of the road waiting for bike support to arrive!

Preparing the smaller, seemingly less significant items will give you the mental confidence to race hard. Free your brain from stress and focus on racing hard and fast!

What tips would you add to the list?

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
 Ask an Expert
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #23 Don’t Break the Bank!

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of tips you can apply in your daily triathlon training in order to kick your performance to the next level without any inordinate expense in time or money.

What tips would you add to the list?

Today’s tip is #23: Don’t Break the Bank!

Pile of cash - triathlon equipment does not have to be expensive

Triathlon can be a very expensive sport. The average competitor at a race seems to be a well-off, upwardly mobile CEO that – judging by their equipment – is fantastically rich!

I sometimes feel inadequate just showing up to a race with my standard bike, cheap technical t-shirt and old gear, while surrounded by literally thousands of dollars of triathlon equipment!

But hey, this sport is about racing your competitors and pushing yourself to achieve your goals.

So, I say forget the fancy equipment, purchase what you can afford. It doesn’t have to be top-end or expensive:

  • Buy a second-hand bike, or last season’s model (the same thing only cheaper)
  • In fact, purchase all your equipment at the end of the season when it is on sale
  • Do you need a fancy tri bike? Would a road bike suffice, or a hybrid that you can use for commuting as well?
  • Invest time in maintaining your equipment to avoid damaging and having to replace it – clean your bike after riding it, oil it, wash your swimsuit out, pack away your wetsuit carefully
  • Ask yourself do you need all the expensive add-ons (carbon seat post, tri bars, aero helmet)
  • Non-brand t-shirts for working out in
  • Shop for workout gear in discounts stores like TJ Maxx
  • Rather spending a fortune on cancer-inducing sports drinks try cheaper alternatives such as bananas, tap water
  • Make your own energy bars rather than buying branded ones (which are not necessarily better)
  • Fueling yourself for all this training can be expensive – make a packed lunch using leftovers
  • Often employers will offer discounts for gym memberships
  • Spend $25 on a foam roller and save a fortune on sports massages
  • Chlorine eats away at swim suits – instead of pricey, longer tri shorts, try longer-lasting models such as Speedo Endurance. My pair of “togs” have literally lasted me 5+ years!
  • Bike/tri shorts are great for comfort but do you need a tri top? Why not a normal (technical) t-shirt or tank top?
  • Many people purchase sport-specific sunglasses but you can get away with your everyday pair at no cost in your race time

Obviously there are a TON of variables in triathlon and many more ways to save money as you participate. Decide what you want to spend your money on, but do not feel pressured to purchase the latest, fanciest, most expensive kit.

With that said, there are a few pieces you should invest in wisely, and where cheapest is NOT best:

  1. A bike that fits well and is safe to ride
  2. Safety equipment such as bike helmet, bike lights, reflective gear for running at night
  3. Wetsuit that fits (sleeveless can be cheaper than full-body so weigh up their relative merits)
  4. Comfortable shoes (these do not have to be expensive, just make sure they fit well)

We do this for enjoyment, don’t let money worries get in the way of that. And remember, it’s about you pushing yourself, not high tech equipment carrying you to glory.

What money saving tips do you have? What pieces of equipment do you spend more money on?

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core

It’s All About The Bike

4 Steps to the Perfect Bike Fit

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good bike, but spending money on a bike fit will repay itself just minutes into your first long ride.

Offseason Cyclist

You will be more comfortable, have better technique, prevent injuries and get more power from your legs. It is worth every penny, particularly if you do not have an “average” body. I am 6’5″ and it’s hard (almost impossible) to get a decent bike within my budget, so I invested in a bike fit to help my money go further.

If you are going to get one done, make sure you spend your money wisely and maximize the value. Here’s a decent, quick summary from Active with tips on getting your bike fit.

bike fitting for triathlon

Hurry up! Three Quick & Easy Tips to Fast Transitions

The transitions in triathlon are short and in theory a relatively simple concept. However to master them takes practice, and because of the relatively small part they play, I find people do not devote the time to improving their triathlon transitions. Don’t make this mistake!

This weekend I had some of my slower transitions and from analyzing my own performance and seeing my competitors zip in and out in no time here are three easy-to-implement tips I will be applying in my next race.

1)      Gear set-up
Before the race, take the time to lay out your kit in an easy-to-find manner. Put your cycling gear together beside your running stuff in a separate pile. Have the cycling gear easy to reach when you come in to T1. I put my cycling gear in my helmet so it is unlikely to get scattered.

The above athlete’s set up looks nice and orderly and I would predict they know where everything is. One difference I don’t like is that they have their helmets on their aerobars. Easy to reach, but what if your neighbor gets to transition before you and knocks your helmet off? In a sea of bikes and triathlon equipment it might be difficult to find, costing you valuable minutes while you search for it.

Experiment with how you set up, and what order you put your equipment on as you will find different combos work better. I like to put my helmet on first and work down my body until my shoes are the last thing I put on before jumping on the bike.

2)      Sunblock or not to sunblock?

This is my eternal dilemma. Do I take the time to put it on or risk the wrath of the sun on my pale, Irish skin? I risked it in my last race and am suffering now from some minor sunburn. Worse still, I was wondering if I should really have done that throughout the cycle as the sun beat down on me. Applying it does throw off my routine a bit as I have to dry myself and then apply the cream, but I know now it is worth it for my mental well-being during the race and my physical well-being after!

Decide on your routine and stick to it. Don’t do anything new on race day, and don’t second guess yourself by missing something. You don’t need any distractions while racing!

3)      Monitor your speed!

I like to jog in slowly from the swim to T1 and catch my breath. I figure the extra few seconds saved by sprinting do not pay off. Once on my bike I go hard straight away as I can recover from the swim while sitting down and get my legs going immediately before settling in to a rhythm. My last T2 was poor and I tried to make up for this by running very fast out of transition. I realized pretty soon that I was going at an obscene & unsustainable pace and had to ease off the gas. Having said that, my legs seemed to wake up quicker than normal, so maybe there is something to be said for going for it straight away on the run!

Practice your transitions, from set-up through to your pacing in and out of each transition. Incorporate this into your workouts. Your legs and lungs will get used to the changeover, and your brain will learn the routine.