Open Water Swimming
If you are like me, every year you head to your first triathlon having not swum anywhere but in a pool in at least 3 months. Lots of us live in places where there is no beach and the lakes are frozen which can make it a little daunting to think about toeing the line and diving into the big deep blue for a race. There are a couple things that I think can really help alleviate some of that anxiety. One of the things I like to do is to practice sighting while in the pool. I will do a 20-30 minute continuous swim and every 4-6 lengths do a 25 at race pace and practice sighting every 4-8 strokes like you would in a crowded race setting. The other thing I try and do is do some drills in the pool where you swim 3 wide in the lane to get used to bumping into people while swimming. You can also take turns sitting on each others feet to get accustomed to drafting in the open water again.
Transitions are often referred to as the fourth discipline in triathlon, and there is some truth to that. While you can never really win a race there, it is definitely a place that can cause a lot of problems is you haven’t thought about it. Before that first race of the year I always like to practice setting up a transition in the front yard. It gives you a chance to remember exactly what equipment you need, and then gives you the opportunity to run through taking things off and putting them on. Even at half speed the practice will help come race day when you are breathing hard and tired.
Running off the Bike
We all know how awkward it can feel sometimes you run directly after a bike ride. Even an easy ride can cause those first few steps to feel a bit out of whack. That’s why I think it is always a good idea to get in a few brick sessions during training, where you are running off the bike. Even if the run is easy it gives you a reminder of the sensation of running with heavy legs. I also think if you can, it pays to do at least one session where you end your ride with a solid effort and go straight into a race pace run. Nothing long or crazy, just a last little reminder to the body and mind what it will be like on race day after you rack the bike and lace up your shoes.
And last but not least, don't forget your Zone3 Race Day Checklist!