Updated: Aug 12
Read time: 3min.
By Coach Yan Busset
Many triathletes make common mistakes on race day that can negatively impact their performance and overall experience.
The excitement and pressure of the event can often lead athletes to overlook these crucial factors, resulting in compromised performance and unnecessary stress.
However, by understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, you can set up yourself for success, have a smoother race experience, and perform at your best potential.
By following a few simple guidelines such as relying on validated gear, arriving early to the race site, pacing oneself properly, getting to know with the race course, and having a backup plan, you can optimise your race and increase your chances of achieving your goals.
1. Trying new things on race day: The temptation is great to get the latest piece of gear to shave a few watts off or to get this fresh pair of shoes you saw at the race expo. Instead, as a rule of thumb, you should only wear or race in gear that has been validated in training. Brand new clothing or shoes may cause chafing and blisters that could compromise your chances of racing at your best. What may look like a good idea at first might turn out to make you curse on race day. This applies to race day fuelling as well. We tend to want to overdo it, ending up eating more than what we are used to in training, leading to gastric distress. An exception to that rule is tires and inner tubes on your bike; riding new ones will lower your risk of puncture on race day.
2. Arriving too late at the race site: especially if you are a beginner. Make sure you arrive on time. Triathlon involves three sports in one, and the logistics can be a bit of a puzzle. So arrive early enough at the race venue to take time to place your gear in the transition area and get familiar with how to navigate it. You will have a lot to do: pick your bib number, attend the race briefing, place your bike and gear at T1 and T2, put on your wetsuit, warm up, write your will... Underestimating the time to set things up and rushing will cause you unnecessary extra stress on top of the usual pre-race butterflies in the stomach. Come early enough to stay calm and conserve your precious energy for the race itself.
3. Poor pacing: Lack of experience mixed with the excitement of finally standing on the start line might lead you to push the pace too hard from the get-go. Combine that with a lack of a proper warm-up, and you might find yourself in the red zone begging for oxygen after only a couple of hundred meters. Especially if you are new to triathlon, pacing yourself from the start will allow you to have the best possible performance. This advice is valid for the start of the bike and the run, especially when one of these disciplines is your strongest. The overexcitement to finally be able to showcase your skills often leads to going too fast too soon. Remember, triathlon is not swimming, biking, and running separately; it's about combining them, and you don't "just" bike, you bike to have enough energy to run well afterwards. Keep in mind that triathlon is an endurance sport; the longer the distance, the less you caught yourself "racing it." Instead, it's about pacing and fuelling management. So chill and save your energy for the last 1/3 of the run course, where you can go full beast mode.
4. Not familiar with the race course: Knowing the race course is crucial for many reasons. On the bike, it allows you to be aware of hazardous sections, such as sharp corners, helping you adjust your approach to cut the risk of accidents. Mastering the swim course and identifying landmarks will help you save some time by maintaining a straighter line. Also, on the bike and run, knowing the course will help you pace and make the right decisions.
5. Lacking plan B: Things rarely go according to plan. Some people can be destabilised if things go off track. So don't just keep your fingers crossed, but plan for all kinds of possible scenarios. Over the years, many athletes I have coached reported technical failures with their devices on race day (such as the head units or power meters). So imagine a situation where you won't have the usual data to pace
your effort. Get familiar with self-assessing your pacing in training so that you can still maintain the right intensity during the race.
You should also be prepared for mechanical issues such as flat tires or a broken chain. Learn to repair them quickly and effectively so that you won't panic when problems arise and it will save your day. Additionally, prepare for unexpected weather and temperature conditions. This will affect your hydration and fuelling strategy. So know your numbers, adapt on the fly, and don't try to force a strategy that won't match the actual real-time conditions.
-Trying new things on race day. Instead use only gears you have tested successfully before.
-Arriving too late at the race site. Coming early enough will allow you a stress free start.
-Poor pacing. Don't get over caught by the overexcitement of the event don't start too fast too soon.
-Not familiar with the race course. Do not improvise, knowing the course will increase safety and performance.
-Lacking plan B. Don't just hope for ideal conditions but prepre yourself for different race day conditions.
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
2. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
3. if you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here
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