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My First Triathlon

by / Monday, 15 February 2016 / Published in sport

You might be doing your first triathlon this year, or you might have friends or family doing the same… for what its worth I thought I would share my experiences.  Everyone’s experience is different but there are some general consistencies that you can learn from and can make your experience more enjoyable.  I have written a more general ‘Doing Your First Triathlon’ blog here, but this is more about my own personal experience. They say the only thing better than learning from other peoples successes is to learn from their mistakes and I had plenty of mistakes at the start 🙂

 

I did my first triathlon nearly 8 years ago.  Since then I have competed in over 100 triathlons across the UK and Ireland.  I have also through Amphibia been involved in and sponsored many more so ive a fair idea at this stage what triathlon is about J  As it happened I completed my first ever marathon and first ever triathlon within 5 days of each other.  This wasn’t intended but just happened that the 2 events I wanted to compete in fell on those dates.  It certainly didn’t help preparation or my competitiveness for either but I was happy enough to just finish both and have been improving my times and competitiveness ever since.

 

So with slightly stiff legs on the morning of my race I was getting ready and just doing some final adjustments on my bike when the brake cable snapped *yikes* luckily my local bike store was able to sort me a new one at last minute but hardly ideal race preparation. This meant a more hasty than planned set-up in transition and then ready to go for the big race. I also didn’t get a chance to have a quick swim before the start but slipped into the start of my wave and thought id get a bit of a head start… big mistake!

With all the excitement and the fact that id never swam with 200 people before, I swallowed a couple of mouthfuls of water and then people started to swim over the top of me.  Thankfully it was the only time I have ever come to quitting a race and it was at the start of my first one! Well I got my breath and was able to breaststroke to the first buoy where I regained my composure and got the head down again. I was relieved to get out of the water (that still hasn’t changed as im always relieved) and get onto the bike. It was colder than expected and rained but then you have to be prepared for UK type weather.  My nutrition intake was ok but I ate an energy bar which just isn’t necessary for a sprint or standard race, better to rely on gels than trying to digest food during a short race.

 

Getting off the bike was an experience in itself and I had jelly legs for the first few hundred metres, I quickly realised I hadn’t practised with enough brick sessions (cycle to run training). However I enjoyed the run and had enough in the legs to pass a few people which always feels good J The finish was better than I ever expected, yes it was great to have a few friends and loved ones there to celebrate with but even better was the feeling you get from finishing a race with 3 different sports in it! It feels like you’ve just completed 3 races and the feeling of exhilaration beats anything you will feel after a ‘one-sport race’.  I really feel this is why the sport is growing so popular worldwide as thousands of new triathletes experience this buzz whenever they finish and they get hooked like the rest of us! So what are you waiting for – sign up for your first race!

 

My main learnings from my first day out were as follows:

Learning 1 – For your first triathlon / marathon / race don’t worry too much about time, just try to finish!

Learning 2 – Don’t over-pack your schedule, make sure you have plenty of time before/after races for preparation & recovery.  These times can become shorter as you get more experienced.

Learning 3 – don’t leave any adjustments in gear, clothing etc to the last minute and always have a plan B!

Learning 4 – have a plan for how you will approach the race and different elements, walk through it beforehand in your mind, try to stick to it but if unforeseen circumstances arise just adapt to them as they happen.

Learning 5 – you probably have a local triathlon you want to compete in, but can you do another one first? It removes a lot of the unknowns, means you can enjoy the experience more and have a better result!

Learning 6 – don’t worry things will go wrong but part of the fun is dealing with them and just doing your best.  Most of us have no chance of winning the race so as long as we challenge ourselves safely and enjoy it that’s the important thing.

Learning 7 – stay to the back or side of the main group for your first triathlon swim!

 

My First Triathlon - just keep calm!

My First Triathlon – just keep calm!

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