triathlon training

"Enjoying your first triathlon" by  Coach Katherine


You have spent weeks or months training, and now it’s time to enjoy your first triathlon.  Follow these simple rules and hints – and remember to have fun!

If the event offers race packet pick-up the day before, take advantage of this.  There are generally fewer lines and more time to get your questions answered.  In your race packet, there will be several sets of your race number that go on the front of your shirt, on the top tube or seat post of your bike, and on the front of your helmet.  There may also be a timing chip that goes around your ankle.  Feel free to ask the race personnel if you have any questions where or how to attach your numbers.

On race morning, come dressed for the race, since there may not be facilities for changing.  Remember that you cannot be completely undressed in the transition area before or during the race.  It is best to wear one outfit for the swim, bike, and run.  You can wear this underneath your wetsuit, if you are using one.  A good example of a race day outfit would be tri shorts (or bike shorts), a singlet (or snug fitting wicking t shirt) and a sports bra (for women).  Some people choose to swim in a swim suit, then add layers for the bike and run.  Either way, practice beforehand to make sure that your race day outfit is comfortable.  

Arrive early, ideally when the transition area opens.  Pick up your race packet if you haven’t already and head to body marking where volunteers will mark your arms and legs with your race number.  Next, you can head into the transition area to set up your gear.  The bike racks will generally be designated with a range of race numbers posted on signs, and you can place your bike anywhere on the appropriate rack.  Use either your handlebars or the front of your seat to rack your bike.  Occasionally, there are specifically assigned spots for each race number.

To set up your gear, lay a small towel down next to your bike and place all your bike equipment (helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes, socks, gloves) nearest you and your run equipment (run shoes, hat or visor) towards the back of the towel.  Be sure to leave room to dry off your feet after the swim.  Keep all your gear contained on your towel – do not allow it to spill out between the racks.  Check that all of your numbers are securely attached, that your bike tires are properly inflated, and that you have your water bottles and your tire changing tools.  Once you are satisfied that your transition area is set, do a short warm up.  Stay in the area of the start, since there are often important announcements about the race.  

During the race, there are some important rules to know.  For the swim portion, there will be lifeguards out in the water on surfboards or kayaks.  You are allowed to stop and rest with them as long as they do not move you forward in any way.  During the bike portion, you must have your helmet on and clipped before you take your bike off the rack, and you must leave it on and clipped until your bike is re-racked.  Failure to follow this rule can lead to disqualification.  At most races, you may not ride out of or into the transition area – you will have to walk or run with your bike until you get to the mount/dismount zone.  

When you are out on the course, keep three bike lengths between you and the rider in front of you.  Ride single file on the right side of the road, and do not cross the middle yellow line.  If you wish to pass, you must do so on the left (loudly say “passing on your left”), and you have 15 seconds to complete the pass.  Be sure to carry tire changing tools and know how to use them, since no outside assistance is permitted during the race.  And remember that the use of headphones is strictly prohibited for the bike and the run.

This article should help you understand the basic rules of triathlon.  For a complete list of triathlon rules, see the USA Triathlon website at - triathlon training for the rest of us

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