Triathlon Tips for Novices
Perfect for those taking on the UWTSD Swansea Triathlon for the first time
Geraint Forster, Programme Director – BSc Sport and Exercise Science at UWTSD, and an experienced triathlete provides some advice for those who are planning on dipping their toes into the world of triathlon in this year’s UWTSD Swansea Triathlon on June 2, organised by Activity Wales Events and sponsored by UWTSD.
The swim is 750m long and takes place in the Prince of Wales dock in SA1. The water quality is of bathing standard, but swimming in open water is quite different to swimming in a pool, so here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your experience:
1, A wetsuit is essential – in early June the water temperature will still be quite chilly. A specialist swimming wetsuit is ideal, however a general purpose/surfing wetsuit will suffice for your first time. It is sometimes possible to rent swimming wetsuits.
2, Get used to open water – a few dips at your local beach with some training partners just to get used to the cold water and lack of visibility will really help you come race day. Stay close to shore and within your depth for safety.
3, Position yourself well –If you are nervous or a weaker swimmer, either position yourself to the side or at the back to avoid the splashing and kicking. Even consider waiting a minute for the main pack to get ahead before setting off – you will then have plenty of space to yourself.
The cycle route is flat and scenic going out along the coastline.
1, Check your equipment – ideally get your bike professionally serviced, but as a minimum, make sure your bike is in good working order – you don’t want your first triathlon to come to an end due to a mechanical problem.
2, Fuel and hydrate – the bike is the easiest place to get some fluid and energy on board. Fill a water bottle with some sports drink (not the fizzy kind) and tape some energy gels or bars to the top-tube (cross-bar) of your bike so you can snack on them as you ride.
3, Start easy – it takes your body a little while to adapt from swimming to cycling, so take it easy for the first few kilometres.
A flat run through enthusiastic crowds to finish on the stage in Castle Square and celebrate your achievement!
1, Practice running off the bike – your legs will feel like jelly for the first 5-10 minutes. Get used to this by going for a short jog at the end of each training ride – even a 5 minute jog will help get you used to it.
2, A walk-run strategy can work well – sometimes, short walking breaks can help you to actually complete the run more quickly and comfortably.
Going straight from one discipline to the next can be the most stressful part – a few tips to help you:
1, Practice transitions – even just mentally running through the routine will help you to ensure you don’t forget anything (and avoid the embarrassment of completing the whole run wearing your cycling helmet!)
2, Take your time – you may feel a little dizzy coming out of the swim – this is natural. Just take your time, walk out of the water, take some deep breaths and compose yourself. Rushing will only cause you to make mistakes.
3, Wear your running/cycling clothes under your wetsuit – trying to discreetly get changed in public whilst out of breath is not a good idea! Wear your shorts and top under your wetsuit – they will soon dry on the bike.
Most importantly – enjoy yourself. You will only ever get one chance to do your first triathlon!