13 Triathlon Most Common First-Time Mistakes

Triathlon involves lots of elements, mistakes will be made for better or for worse. Completing a triathlon is far more complicated than any other type of race, and having to do the three parts in a single day amplifies the difficulty by a large amount.

Beginning a race can be intimidating for a triathlete, but if you can stay away from the usual errors, then you will be sure to enjoy the experience more. With that in mind, here are the common first-time triathlete mistakes and how you can easily avoid them on race day:

1. Not being familiar with swimming in open water

For a variety of valid reasons, the majority of our swimming workouts take place in a swimming pool. For the triathlon, we will mostly be swimming in a natural body of water, such as a lake.

People who are new to triathlons often make the mistake of assuming that two things are alike when, in actuality, they are not.

The water in the pool should ideally be sparkling and transparent, granting you an unobstructed sight of the bottom, which is easily within reach. Most lakes and non-pool triathlon swim locations tend to be so cloudy that it is impossible to even make out the shape of your hand right in front of you, let alone the bottom of the lake.

Many triathletes are particularly troubled by the absence of clarity in open-water swimming, so getting familiar with this type of swim setting before race day can assist you in becoming adapted to the feeling.

If you cannot locate an open-water swim opportunity before your race, you can use your pool to train leading up to this date. During your practice swims, periodically close your eyes, squint, or wear a pair of scratched-up goggles. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s preferable to having nothing!

2. Not practising running after biking

It is plain to see that you should exercise all three limbs of a triathlon (swimming, cycling, and running) to be prepared. Occasionally, novice triathletes neglect to unify the three events in their practice.

It is clear that doing each of the three activities – swimming, biking, and running – one after the other is not the same as doing all three at the same time, especially when fatigue sets in. Particularly, going for a jog directly following cycling is its own peculiar and unusual occurrence.

Including multiple sessions of bike-followed-by-run exercises, or “bricks” (a somewhat mysterious term) is vital to your training plan as a triathlete.

Begin by jogging for 10 minutes after your longest bike ride of the week, ideally four weeks before a race. Be prepared for this to feel strangely uncomfortable as your legs may not be used to the activity and could seem uncoordinated.

This is why you should perform additional training where you cycle and then run. With repetition, it will become less unfamiliar until the race day arrives, and it will appear nearly routine. Almost.

3. Forgetting gear / having too much gear in the transition area

It is a frequent occurrence that someone fails to remember to bring their swimming glasses to the competition. Although one of the competitors may often bring an extra boat to balance out the competition, it’s best to not introduce that pressure on the day of the race.

Assemble your supplies list a few days before the competition, verifying everything twice or even on three occasions. Be sure to pack your items for the race at least one day before it starts, and take some time to double and even triple-check before heading out.

At the opposite extreme, another frequent mistake made by triathletes is to bring a container on wheels containing almost every piece of equipment imaginable, sometimes even including a lawn chair, to the transition area.

This necessitates that an athlete needs to have three times more space for their equipment than what is available at their racking spot. Additionally, it would be difficult for them to find exactly what they need promptly during the transition.

You should only bring the necessary items to transition to have a cleanly organized area to switch from biking to running. This will give you the ability to quickly collect your belongings while you make sure that you don’t forget something important.

4. Can’t find your bike/racking spot during the transition

You have put together an awesome collection of items for race day. You entered your transition area with only what was necessary, and you had it all neatly sorted near your bike, like a total expert.

You went to the swimming event and did incredibly well (great job!) Then you return to the transition area and get totally lost since it is filled with bicycles. Oops.

This is a typical misstep that first-time triathletes make, but it can easily be prevented.

Once you’ve reached your transition rack, begin familiarizing yourself with your surroundings: locate the place from where you will exit the transition area, when the swim is over (inquire if you cannot find it), and trace the same path you’ll be taking when you have finished the swim.

Do you go left or right? How many rows over? And how far down the row is your bike? Next, go to the spot where you will move back into transition when you have finished cycling (“bike in”) and take a stroll to where you will store your bike equipment, similar to what you will do when you have completed the biking part.

Once again: Do you go left or right? How many rows over? And how far down the row is your bike?

Bear in mind that when you actually do it you won’t have your bicycle with you so you’ll have to spot your rack without it. Utilizing a brightly coloured towel where you arrange your stuff can be of help.

Oooh – did you check the tyre pressures on your bike before racking?


5. Going off-course on the swim

This is probably the most widespread blunder that both newbies and veteran triathletes make. You can remain by the side of the pool where the competition is being held during every single event and observe the events unfold for multiple swimmers.

And you can easily understand how they got there. At the beginning of the competition, the participants rushed into the sea and kept swimming until they reached an area beyond the buoys that demark the route. Unexpectedly, they found that they were utterly alone in the middle of the water. Oops again.

The trick to preventing this error is a swimming ability known as “sighting.” This basically involves raising your head from the water to locate the buoy you are heading towards.

You can sight in several fun approaches, including the Tarzan swim and doing “alligator eyes” where you lift your head briefly before breathing. Additionally, you can just take a few strokes of breaststroke to see where you are.

During the race, you should locate the next buoy every six to ten times that you stroke your arms. Yes, that often. Do as many repetitions of the action in the water as possible.

Once you have completed the turn around a buoy, don’t forget to identify the next buoy that you need to go toward, since that is where you are most likely to veer off your route.

Do not think that you are progressing correctly simply because another person is close by. You could easily be off-course together!

6. Not including any open water swimming in your training

Swimming is often the most daunting phase of the triathlon. This is such a deterrent that it discourages a lot of people from even attempting it. It is absolutely essential to perfect your swimming technique as it will help you save energy for the remainder of the event.

You don’t have to restrict yourself from to going to the pool just to check your swimming skills. Lane swimming versus open water swimming is massively different.

Even the best swimmers can have difficulty in open water. Not seeing the bottom. Being in a pack with no discipline. All these things can ruin your race.

Be sure to arrange an outing on the open water before participating in the contest. It is optimal for a triathlete to take on a challenge in a body of water that is outdoors. So if you are swimming in a lake.

Find a lake. Swimming in a river. Find a river. Swimming in the sea. Definitely find some sea to swim in. Waves add a new dimension of complexity.

7. Avoiding hills in cycling training

Biking skills are just as vital in triathlon as they are in participating in a sportive event. You will be biking with several other individuals who possess different levels of biking ability. It is unlikely that you will be on a closed road, so you have to contend with other drivers on the roadway.

Understanding how to ride your bike is essential. Going up and down hills is a major source of the f difficulty. During the climb, it is important to be able to adjust your equipment and be able to transition between sitting and standing.

You need to trust your brakes and utilize your body weight when navigating curves on the way down. Newcomers to triathlons may be particularly concentrated on achieving greater average cycling speeds than any other element.

This may come with the cost of overlooking hills as they sidestep them. If you avoid challenging yourself while training, it will be difficult to find success on race day. Beginner triathletes often neglect to add sufficient hill climbs into their bike practice.

8. Spending more time spending money than training

It is not uncommon to feel attracted to all of the wonderful things that cycling has to offer when you are just starting off with a race. However, it’s not necessary to get all of them. It is not productive to spend money on acquiring a TT bicycle along with a power meter and extra components.

Getting a bike is absolutely necessary for your first race, but you don’t have to compete with the Brownlees. It is vital to spend time riding a bicycle while training when attempting cycling for the first time.

Acquire or obtain a road bicycle to use and spend hours on it before the race. As you start to become fond of the activity, there will be many opportunities to get better equipment. Don’t bother getting ready for a race if you don’t know what you’re doing.

9. Running too frequently

Running is part of a triathlon that puts the most strain on the body, making it the activity most prone to causing injuries, and thus likely to require that you drop out before starting the race. Many athletes who have a history of running have trust in the final leg of a triathlon.

They don’t take into account that as they prepare for their triathlon, they will be dealing with greater levels of activity due to swimming and cycling workouts. It is essential to incorporate rest days in a triathlon training plan, which can be hard for novice triathlete who is trying to fit in all their exercises.

It will require a gradual progression if you have previously only been a casual runner doing 1-2 hours of jogging per week to get to a point where you are doing more than 6 hours of training a week. In the initial stages of triathlon preparation, it is best to limit running to a maximum of one or two times per week.

10. Failing to have a training plan

You must incorporate training for three different sports if you are preparing for a triathlon. Many individuals have difficulty getting ready for a marathon. Triathlon training can be intimidating and lead to inadequate preparation.

It is generally believed by novice triathletes that training should be divided equally between the three disciplines of the sport. It is essential to take the length of time each stage of a triathlon lasts into account. It would be beneficial for you to divide your workout by allotting 25% for swimming, 50% for cycling, and 25% for running.

11. Failing to allow for rest days

Newbies who take part in triathlons usually don’t have much financial gain. This suggests that triathlon training is likely to be behind work and family in terms of priority.

It can be difficult to not give in to the urge of cramming in as much learning as possible. Your muscles require rest after a workout, so if you are already worn out before doing exercise, you are not going to get much out of it.

You need to be thoroughly prepared for each workout and be able to give your full effort to gain the most from your training. Quality training delivers quality results and faster racing. Do not exercise when your body is not feeling its best.

12. Failing to include brick training

In a past blog article, a comprehensive examination of Brick training was presented. Basically, for those starting out, brick training involves combining various disciplines sequentially.

This involves practising both swimming and cycling in one session, as well as cycling and running back-to-back. This is significant because your body needs to have an understanding of what it feels like to move from one position to the next.

Getting off of the bicycle can often cause your hips to become stiff and your legs may be throbbing from the uphills. Once you begin running, the sensation in your legs will resemble that of jelly and it may discourage you from continuing.

Incorporating brick training into your triathlon regimen can assist in familiarizing yourself with your body and in obtaining a more comprehensive preparation for race day.

13. Failing to select the right first race

Humans are dreamers by nature. Aspiration is a magnificent quality to possess, yet before you dream big, make sure you understand the goal you are aiming for. The first triathlon attempt should be a Sprint event.

Triathlons that involve a short distance include swimming 750 m, biking 20 km and running 5 km. For someone doing a triathlon for the first time, this can seem relatively easy.

The prominence of the Ironman triathlon across various locations and the frequent conversations regarding extended events have brought the idea to the forefront. You may aspire to be like Dave Scott in the future, but for your initial race, it would be best to pick a shorter distance.

Pick a race where you can learn. Appreciate the occurrence and set yourself up for the following one. Opting for a challenging journey for your maiden triathlon is unwise.

Side notes

Know before you go. Examine the athlete guide for the competition, attend the athlete orientation, or ask another triathlete to elucidate the information to you.


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