Monday, June 22, 2009

Philly Insurance Triathlon Coaching Tips - Part 4: Transitions & Final Race Preparation

You have done the training and now it's time to put your taper into place. "LESS IS MORE" I can not stress this point enough. You will not get stronger this week by adding an extra workout.

Important FYI... If you don't read anything else here, read my most valuable suggestion...

"If you taper correctly, you'll be a little short fused with everyone and especially your loved ones! Your body has been in "training mode" and now you have this extra energy that should be used at the triathlon and not on your family or coworkers. Compound a little nervous energy in the mix and you have the recipe to explode! Plan something special next week. Make it unexpected. Trust me; this will go a LONG way. No one can succeed without family support."

  1. Make a mental note when setting up your transition area of where you are located in the transition area. You will probably be a little confused after the swim and having a benchmark will certainly help you find your bike. 2000 bikes is a lot of bikes!! Walk from the swim exit to the bike racks. Note the location. How many racks is it? I have seen balloons and signs marking personal transitions, as well as wash basins, towels for convenience. All of this is a matter of personal preference, and whatever you decide to use be sure you've practiced exactly how to use it! It will save you time but more importantly, make your experience just a little better. And of course, please don't forget the transition racks are very crowded -- be courteous to your fellow racers.

  2. Go over in your mind the first transition (T1). How will you dress for the bike? Do you need to sit down to take off your wetsuit? Trust me -- no one will truly look graceful. Be smooth and deliberate when you transition. Collect yourself. Strap on your helmet, cycling shoes, and sunglasses before unracking your bike. And think about your nutrition by consuming some calories with an extra bottle or a gel that you have placed in your transition area.

  3. Walk the transition area to the bike exit. Look at the mount and dismount lines. Plan your second transition (T2) Know where you are going to rack your bike. Where are your running shoes, number? Is your race belt ready?

  4. Don't forget to cross the timing mat and only remove your helmet once you have racked your bike.

  5. Allow your body to get into a rhythm when starting the next leg. Pace yourself and don't go out too hard up the first hill during the bike leg. As you begin the run, it may take you a mile or two to find your legs. Don't panic. If you have done the training, they'll come around!

Note to Experienced Racers: Transitions are one of the places where you can make up the most time. Getting in and out of transition not only cuts time on your T1 and T2 time, but it can put you in a better position on the race course amongst your competitors. Less is more in the transition area. Prepare only what you need. Grab any fuels in transition and start moving. You'll want to get most of your nutrition while on the move!

Final Race Preparation:
  1. Have a bottle of water by your side at all times the week before your race. Focus on drinking 64 oz of water every day. I do not need to tell anyone how important hydration is to performance.

  2. Sleep. It is most important to get two good nights of sleep prior to the race. The day of the race, I prefer getting up early so I am not rushed and have time to compose myself and deal with any possible "what if's!" 30 minutes less sleep is better than rushing around with your head cut off the morning of the race.

  3. Socks? To wear or not to wear? Simple. If you trained with them, wear them. No need to find out if you'll get blisters by not wearing socks cycling or running.

  4. If you are traveling to the race and staying at a hotel find out if they serve breakfast early and the type of breakfast they serve? If you have home field advantage, eat what you normally eat before training on your hard days. I prefer eating 2-3 hours before the race.

  5. Check the weather and plan accordingly. Lars has promised no rain the weekend of the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon. Have fun and look for us the Cadence Tent! We'll have two mechanics ready to help if necessary but please be cautious, there are 2000 competitors!
Enjoy the advice and if you want more information on personal swimming, running or cycling classes, triathlon camps, coaching, and race day equipment and bikes please e-mail or call (215) 508-4300.

Brian Walton
VP of Performance, Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center
2003 USA Cycling Developmental coach of the Year
2004 USA Triathlon U23 Executive Cycling Coach

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