How to Nail Your Next Triathlon

Every athlete’s dream is to cross the finish line like an Olympian, with a strong finish kick and arms raised in victory. On top of feeling like a real ace, we all want that perfect finisher snapshot, don’t we? 

The keys to getting the best results in your triathlon race have as much to do with tools and pre-race routines as they do with your pace on D-day. 

More than getting out and running fast, a good race pace involves a considerable amount of self-knowledge, patience, and discipline. In this article, we show you how to comment on your next triathlon. But first, let’s talk about the type of triathlon you are interested in.

Choose your triathlon format

Triathlon has an important place in the UAE. As proof, Abu Dhabi has become the epicenter of triathlon in the Middle East. 

With the number of triathlon events organized in the country alone, it is evident that not all triathlon races are created equal

Whether you’re training like crazy or using a machine as powerful as a BMC bike in Dubai (or anywhere in the world), you need to have the triathlon format you prepare for in mind.

The formats differ depending on the distance. So how many formats are there in a triathlon? Well, there are seven triathlon formats for adults:

  • XXL distance (Ironman): This is the most popular of all triathlon formats. It comprises a 3800-meter swim, 180-kilometer cycle, and 42.195-kilometer run.
  • XL distance or LD (long distance): This format requires a 4000-meter swim, 120-kilometer cycle, and 30-kilometer run.
  • Half Ironman distance (Ironman 70.3): This is another format of Ironman. It comprises a 1900-meter swim, 90-kilometer cycle, and 21-kilometer run.
  • L distance: This format includes a 3000-meter swim, 80-kilometer cycle, and 20-kilometer run
  • M distance (Olympic): This format requires a 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, and 10-kilometer run.
  • S distance (sprint): This is the penultimate format. It requires 750 meters of swimming, 20 kilometers of cycling, and 5 kilometers of running.
  • XS distance (discovery or super sprint): This is the latest and shortest format. It requires 400 meters of swimming, 10 kilometers of cycling, and 2.5 kilometers of running.

Top seven tips to make your triathlon a success

If you want to prepare for a triathlon, here are five tips to help you have a successful race.

1. Set realistic goals

World-class athletes succeed not because they have crazy dreams. Instead, they set realistic goals and can determine with their coach how they will achieve those objectives. 

For example, an athlete who is training to run a 100-meter sprint and whose average time is 18 seconds will not have the ambition to cut that time in half and beat Usain Bolt. 

A more realistic and achievable goal would be to shave 3 seconds off their average time and run the 100 meters in 15 seconds in the immediate future. They can continue using the same formula for training until they reach their ultimate goal of beating Bolt. 

Instead of saying “I want to qualify for the Olympics,” you need to know what you need to do to get there. You must be willing to hit your goal one step at a time

It could be a time goal for a particular course related to the race or total time. In the event you achieve that, then based on the results of your participation in previous years, there will be a good chance that you’ll achieve a slot as a bonus. 

2. Train in phases

The goal here is to divide your year into manageable chunks of time or into different phases. Rather than always doing the same exercise for nine months, you can apply different training stress loads at other times of the year.

Ideally, as you approach the race, you should apply stress loads that correlate directly with that specific event. 

Training in phases allows you to focus on the process rather than the result. This is done through smaller, focused training blocks that will help you become physically and mentally ready.

Phased training also helps you become progressive and gives your body ample time to adapt to the demands of a race incredibly well. You need time and space for these adaptations to occur. Keep in mind that behavioral change doesn’t happen overnight and that it comes with time and constant practice.

3. Get yourself the best tools

With three stages of events, the amount of conditioning involved, and an adapted event strategy required to finish strong, a triathlon race demands a lot. Moreover, the importance of making sure you start and maintain the right pace, and having access to detailed performance data should not be underestimated.

That’s why you need to equip yourself with useful tools that’ll help you save time and stay fit and comfortable. 

You can choose to wear a swimming suit or even swimming shorts during the swim leg, pulling on a cycling kit in transition. But it’s not practical. However, you can save time and be more comfortable by wearing a triathlon suit designed to be worn across all disciplines. A good start would be to equip yourself with a Grit+Tonic triathlon kit

A study confirmed by the New York Times revealed that elite athletes run faster and are 4 percent more efficient when they use good sneakers. This signifies that you need to make useful tools your ally if you want to nail your next triathlon.

Some extra tools you may need to ensure your best performance include a transition bag, running belt and a digital sports watch. 

4. Take some rest

If you have a long-term plan and are sure to stay consistent in your workouts, then it would be good to include forced rest periods in the months before your key races

According to Scott Berlinger, founder of a company that coaches athletes, the biggest mistake triathletes make is training hard every single time.

“This is called muddying the water. So if you keep the water muddy, you won’t perform well,” Berlinger said. 

Short rest periods may vary depending on your schedule. You can rest once a week or in blocks of several days throughout the year

These breaks are designed to help you recharge mentally, physically, and emotionally. Recharging can help you gain fitness and motivation when you return for training.

5. Run the race

When you’re preparing for a triathlon and come across a triathlon magazine that praises other athletes, it’s easy to start with self-sabotaging thoughts. 

But remember, mulling over misconceptions that the sport is for the elite, that you have to be a badass to win a triathlon, or that you’ve not achieved the level of fitness required is a waste of your time. This sport is not for the elite. It’s accessible to everyone, as long as you believe in yourself and train for it. 

The fear of failure can be stifling. There will always be naysayers, and self-doubt will be part of the game. However, you must commit to your long-term goal and stand your ground in the face of adversity.

Think about it; the only way to succeed in a triathlon is to show up on race day and start. Run, cycle and swim as if you were training to avoid being intimidated by other triathletes.

Were the shared tips useful to you? Do you have other information on how to be more efficient during a triathlon? Let us know in the comments.