Triathlon Partners 101
A triathlon partner is a great resource to keep you focused and committed throughout your training regiment. Triathlon training isn’t just about being in shape. You are often training for something, such as a race or some other definitive goal. A partner will be able to help motivate you to get out of bed and do an early morning workout because if you don’t, not only will you slip up on training, you’ll be letting a friend down. Two-a-day workouts, in which you alternate two workouts between swimming, cycling, running and weight training, can become pretty common for most triathletes. You may not need a triathlon partner for each session, but an upbeat, positive, committed partner could bring great things out of you. You can draft off your triathlon partner while cycling, chat a bit while running, and sprint against him/her during swim sessions. A experienced triathlon partner can be a great information resource. Learning how to be a triathlete can be a bit overwhelming at first. Some of the questions you might encounter include: how to change a flat, what to eat, what the rules are during a race, and how to set up a transition area. A partner can either teach you or learn with you, but the fact is that you’ll probably learn information that you never even thought to ask by talking to other triathletes. Once you've found a partner, you and your partner can expand your network by joining a triathlon training group. Search for or create your own Triathlon Group.
Finding a Triathlon Coach
Finding a good tri coach can be a bit of a challenge. If you live in an area where triathlons are popular, such as Florida or California, you will probably have a pretty large pool to choose from. In areas where triathlons are not as common, it may be more difficult. However, don't fret, the triathlon world is often very social and closely knit. A great place to look for a triathlon coach is your local running/cycling store. Many coaches run training groups out of these stores. Also, running store employees tend to be knowledgeable about triathlons and often can offer personalized, helpful tips about your training or tell you who to contact for good coaching.
Try to stick to a coach who is certified. Beware of the old joe who claims to love triathlons, but has no coaching record. Individuals who have an extensive race record can also offer valuable incite, so don't turn them away when you're in need of advice. Coaches should ideally be certified by USAT (United States of American Triathlon). Your triathlon coach should be someone you respect, admire and trust. They should be aggressive, but also supportive. Your coach should push you to achieve while ensuring your physical and emotional health.
Also, days before the race, there are often swim or general workshops led by an accredited individual where you can glean some insight. If all else fails, there are tons of books published about triathlons these days, and many instructional videos. While this may not be the best tool for the elite athlete, it’s a great way to get on your feet in the tri world and learn the basics.
Fueling up during your triathlon training is criticial. Knowing what to eat before and after the race is also vital to your performance and recovery. When you have "two-a-days", days involving a morning and evening workout, your metabolism will increase. You will feel hungrier, especially if you are not accustomed to working out twice a day. The best way to know what to eat when your training is to consult with a physician or nutrition specialits. But here are a few basic nutrition tips to keep in mind:
Eat good carbohydrates - They give you the fuel you need to power through the workout. Typically, an athlete of medium frame and build needs about 1g carbohydrate per minute of exercise. Experiment during your training and see how much you need in order to feel your best during your workouts and at the start of your next workout. You should feel energized, rested and ready to go, even though you may be a little sore from a previous workout.
Consume Protein - Protein provides your body with the building blocks necessary to create lean muscle mass. If you are a vegetarian, make sure that the food you eat contains the 8 essential amino acids.Eat Good Fats - Fat is where the body stores fuel which provides energy for exercise after your carbohydrate stores are depleted. The "good fats," such as omega-3 fatty acids, are necessary.
Most nutritionists recommend a 60-20-20 ration in a triathlete's diet which is carbohydrate-protein-fat. The latter two numbers vary from person to person, however. It is important to consume a balance of each of these essential nutrients each time you eat to keep you fueled and ready to train.
Race Day Tips
Prepare, prepare, prepare. When the day of the race is at hand and all your training is aside, take the time to really prepare mentally for your triathlon or ironman race. Here are a few tips to help you have the best race day possible:
1) Pick up your race day packet a day or two in advanced. You will need an id and your USAT membership card to pick up your packet.
2) Check out the course subtleties like the distance between the swim and bike, the curves on the bike route and the inclines on the run route.
3) Pack your bag the day before the race. Write out a list of essentials then add anything that you think will help you on the day of the race. Also take this time to attach your race tags to the necessary articles of clothing and your bike.
4) Get enough sleep 2 to 3 days in advance. You will likely have to get up very early the day of the race, so be sure to have a well rested couple of days beforehand.
5) Eat foods you've been eating while training. Do not use the day of the race to experiment with new sports enhancement drinks, bars or powder packs. Eat the foods you know already work for your body.
6) Hydrate 2 to 3 days before the race. It is not smart to try just to hydrate the night before a race or just the day of. Drink enough water on a regular basis to ensure your muscles are hydrated the day of the race. Also, give yourself enough time to use the restroom before a race. The restroom lines will be long.
7) Be detailed about setting up your transition stations. Make sure nothing will be knocked over and try to set up your clothing in the order you will put it on.
8) Stay calm and pace yourself. During all your transitions stay calm. While on your bike, remember you will need your legs for the run, so pace yourself. When your running, just remember to keep the goal in sight. Just finishing a triathlon is a huge accomplishment, so don't worry about your time during your first race.