Tri like a Boss: My Tips for the Beginner Triathlete

With race season coming up, I thought I should share some tips and lessons learned from last year. I competed in three sprint length and one olympic length tri’s, and feel like I finally got my bag packing and gear list down.

Literally nothing could be worse than training for months for your first triathlon, and showing up to the parking lot in the dark, realizing you didn’t pack a flashlight! Even worse, you worry about the last time you aired your tire, proceed to fill, and pop your tube! Well not to worry, with my handy list for the beginner triathlete a little overwhelmed with what to do, you’ll hopefully be able to avoid a nightmare on race morning!

Beginner Triathlete Tips: The day before the race

I have several “rituals” I do before a race, many I adopted when I started running 5k’s when I first started my journey that have saved me tons of time and energy for the actual morning of a race

   Drink a gallon of water – I normally have a gallon jug filled with water that I tote around with me all day, refilling my water bottle or cup until it’s gone. This ensures I am properly hydrated. I generally avoid all other liquids that day other than my morning coffee and I always know where the nearest bathroom is lol. I pee about every half hour!

   Eat normal stuff. unless you’re about to actually run a whole marathon, or participate in Kona, you probably don’t need to “carbo load” or any of that nonsense. If you’re anything like me and get race day jitters (meaning I go #2 on average 4 times between waking and racing), the last thing you need is something new in your tummy to upset it more.

   Get a solid 10 hours of sleep, avoiding caffeine five hours before bed. I wake up on time, refreshed, and ready!

My race day breakfast: black iced coffee and protein shake. The husband prefers a protein shake and a NO-Xplode

My race day breakfast: black iced coffee and protein shake. The husband prefers a protein shake and a NO-Xplode

   Prep your tri bag before going to bed, on top of setting out anything you will be drinking/eating/wearing the morning of. Something about race day makes you lose about 20 IQ points. ‘Must be all the adrenaline or blood going to your muscles, ha! After forgetting my polar watch twice, I never leave anything to chance. The less I have to think about, the better!

   Apply your race stickers to the helmet and bicycle, as well as airing up your tires. One of the worst things that could happen would be to try to air up your tires the morning of, in the dark, and end up popping them. All that training, ruined!


Beginner Triathlete Tips: Packing your bag

When I first started thinking about doing my first tri, the most overwhelming thing was “What do I need to pack?” or “How much stuff do I need to buy?”. Other than the obvious; a bicycle,  running shoes with lock laces, and a bag to keep everything in, I was pretty lost. Here is what I pack (pictures below include my husbands gear as well):

For setting up the transition zone and going into the swim:



   extra clothes to wear after the race


   swim cap (provided by the race)

   polar watch and monitor


   mat for changing/wiping feet off

   wetsuit/lava pants

In one area I pack what I will need for coming out of the swim into T1:

running shoes or your cycling shoes


   recovery gels/blocks

   pre-stickered race helmet

   pre-toggled race belt with bib

   sunglasses (depending on what time your race is, this may go in the T1 or T2 area)

For T2:

   a hat to run in

   running shoes (if you wore cycling shoes for the bike)

Beginner Triathlete Tips: What to wear race day

After doing three tri’s, I really value my tri suit. It saves me tons of time in the transition zones, the only thing I do after the swim in T1 is wipe my feet off, put some socks on, and slip into my shoes. They usually have pockets in the back for gels and energy blocks, bonus! The only bummer is, because of my rather buxom chest, I cannot run in the suit without a bra, so I swim with my bra on. My first tri I put my bra on in T1 thanks to my BFF’s help, but it cost us both MINUTES in the t-zone. As long as I properly cover myself in lube, I don’t chafe from the bra or my polar loop heart monitor. I also have done one in a two-piece suit by Salty Coconuts, just as functional. I think the main point is having as little changing in the transition zones as possible, so focus on wearing something you can do all three events in. I haven’t had to wear a full wetsuit because the waters on the west coast haven’t been below 65, but I truly adore my lava pants by Xterra. On and off, no zipper!

Good luck on packing and prepping with these beginner triathlete tips. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Leave in the comments below any of your triathlon secrets/rituals, I’d love to pick up some more tips for next year!

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