Be prepared for everything and know what to expect at your first triathlon
Have you signed up for your first triathlon? Congrats! You might have questions about training, what you need, and what will happen on race day. We’ll walk you through race weekend, from packet pickup to the finish line festival. For a breakdown of what you need, make sure you have these 6 items. There are many variations of training plans available. Whatever route you go, incorporate these 8 habits to have a good training experience.
Beginner triathletes can feel excitement, stress, and anxiety all at the same time. Like your upcoming training, the more you know the better. Keep the surprises to a minimum and soothe those jitters with this rundown of what to expect at your first triathlon. Unless you have a specific time goal in mind with certain splits, make this an enjoyable experience and have fun. Pro tip: there’s nothing better than reading a story about someone’s first triathlon, especially when it’s written by the new triathlete. Read about William’s first triathlon and see how his day went!
Before the start line
You need to pick up your race packet! It’ll have important items like your timing chip, swim cap, and bib. You might find other goodies like a commemorative shirt and items or discounts from sponsors. Packet pickup normally takes place at least one day before the race. Some triathlons have expos full of vendors, gear, and experiences. Other events might set up shop at a local bike shop. Either way, get your packet before race day. Pro tip: packet pickup is typically busiest during the first two hours. Consider going a couple hours after it has opened.
If this is your first triathlon, you might want to get to transition as soon as it opens race morning. This can provide you with an advantage. Pick out the location that’s best for you based on where your age group is located. Set up your transition so that it best fits your race-day needs. If you get set up and have plenty of time, walk around transition, chat with other triathletes, and become familiar with where your items are located. The last thing you want is to exit the water, run to transition, and forget where your bike is. Eliminate any other pre-race jitters with these 6 tactics.
After the start line
Participants are grouped by their age. You’ll begin the swim in wave with your group. As a beginner, ease into the swim and build momentum once you get in a rhythm. Focus on your form and rely on your training. If you used certain tricks to keep you calm, implement them when needed. Make sure you look up and stay on course. You don’t want to swim any more than you have to! Once you complete the swim and exit the water, unzip and take off your wetsuit if you wore one. Head to transition, locate your bike, and switch out any swim gear for what you’ll need on the bike.
Check your bike a few days prior to the race to ensure everything is good to go. You want to avoid any last-minute hiccups. Check your brakes, chain, wheels, and see if your saddle height needs to be adjusted. The adrenaline from the swim will make you want to exert all your energy on the bike, but remember to save something for the run. Once you’re ready to go, make sure your helmet is on and the helmet strap is secure before leaving transition with your bike. You can’t get on your bike until you cross the mount line. When you return, you have to get off your bike at or before the dismount line. Head back to your spot, rack your bike, grab your bib, and get ready to run
Well done! You made it to the final leg of your first triathlon. You will need a minute to recover from the bike and get your legs going. If you completed any brick workouts during your training then you’ll know your legs will feel wobbly when you dismount your bike. The run leg will test your stamina and patience. You’re exhausted and toward the end of your first triathlon. Focus on your breathing and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Grab hydration along the run if you need it. Keep pushing, you’ll cross the finish line soon!
Finishing your first triathlon will be a moment you remember forever. A certain euphoria will take over and make all the stress, pain, and fatigue worth it. Give yourself a pat on the back and head to the finish line festival to celebrate your accomplishment.