After HARPING on for 6 years that my New Year’s resolution was to do a triathlon, I went guns blazing into the half ironman world straight off the bat, without ANY experience in the Tri world.. and these are things I learnt..
1) Join a SQUAD
I had always considered ‘triathlons’ / ‘multi-sport’ to be more of a ‘team sport’. I’m not sure WHY, maybe because of the word ‘Tri’, but actually, it’s not. Far from it infact. It’s just you, and your GLORIOUS mind. If you can find some training buddies or a squad, it will be a game changer. You have accountability partners, people you can ask the nitty-gritty questions too, and those who support you through the good times and bad..
2) Get a COACH
If you are new like me – get yourself a coach. It’s key. And one of the best investments you will make! I had literally ZERO experience on the road bike (except commuting in London & Amsterdam, and growing up riding a bike around the tennis court..!), but road cycling is seriously technical. Seeew many gears! I was lucky enough to find a coach who is a master on the cycling field, and since it was my biggest weakness, gawd he taught me ALOT in the short amount of time. Not only this – but I took up swimming lessons once again. Haven’t done that since high school! I re-learnt to tumble turn and had my technique straightened out which – was an added BONUS.
3) GEAR up
These multi sports ain’t cheap. But once you have the gears – you have them for a LONG time. You’ll start with a bike and before you know it you’ll have aero bars, a bento box so you can eat on the road (literally), you may need to carry little noss canisters in case you strike a puncture (they are useful for more things than expected!), and not to mention the cycling glasses, shammy cream, gloves, tracking device, the shoes and of course – clothing. All these little bits and bobs are a little bit like the sport itself – addictive.
4) Be prepared to get injured
The most dreaded part of training – injuries. Chances are, it will happen at some point down the line. For me this was a little too close for comfort. About a month out from the race, I struck what seemed like a seriously painful knee issue. Turns out it was a very tight IT band. One leg got better, and then 2 weeks out the other leg seized up. Not ideal in the slightest. How to avoid these kind of things? Stretch. Roll. Do yoga. Get a massage. Get ‘Thor laser’. Try and squeeze some strength training in there.. It’s a tricky business trying to fit EVERYTHING in, but if you want to avoid injury, do what you can to avoid having to go to physio in the lead up, or in my case – two weeks out. I’m pretty confident ‘Thor laser’ saved the day for me. That treatment is AMAZEBALLS.
5) Sort your nutrition out early
One of the most debated topic’s – Nutrition. If it makes you feel bloated, it means it’s not working for you. If it’s giving you a great boost and your stomach feels ok – then keep using it. My coach recommended snack logs for the cycling part – AWESOME. Haven’t had them in YEARS! They were great! Snakes, jet planes, banana, protein shakes before hand, E shots, electrolytes.. you’ll need them all. The best part is that you HAVE to trial all these different food combo’s. Any excuse to tuck into snakes, jet planes and snack logs had me freaaaking PUMPED!
6) Remember (if you can!) to ENJOY it
I am super competitive. Like so competitive, I forget to look around and instead I focus on how to catch the person in front of me, or how to avoid stopping so no one will catch me. But when you are out there – it is just you verses your mind. Smile. Take it all in (and if you can – look around!). Read the rules of the race (the half ironman you need to be 12 metres behind the person in front of you!), and give yourself a pat on the back for doing it. If it is your first one – the good news is, it’s already a PB!
7) EASE yourself into it
If I could recommend ANYTHING, it would be to ease yourself into a race.. maybe do a triathlon of some description before going guns blazing and doing a half IM or full IM like me.. that was potentially my downfall and why I also got injured – too much, too soon.. but hey.. then and again.. I got there.. even with the mass start of swimming where I got sandwiched between two girls. That part wasn’t AS fun… still – I got there.
And last but not least.. watch out as this sport is addictive.. once you have all the gears, have been through the injuries, got your crew sorted, your nutrition is on point and you are starting to enjoy it, you may find before you know it.. you are entering another event..
Never say never..
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