Tri-Tips and Questions

These are tips and questions from our May 11 member meeting.

If you have other tips or answers to any of the questions, please email them to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Triathlons in General

Make a checklist of stuff to take and things to do before the triathlon so you can sleep the night before. Save it for the next one.

What is a triathlon? A four part endurance event: swim, bike, run, moo

What are triathlon distances? Super-sprint, sprint, olympic, half-ironman, ironman (more to come).

Is it OK to train for each sport separately or is it better to combine them in the same training session? Yes (more to come).

What type of equipment will I need for training and participating in triathlons? Here is an equipment list for the average triathlete. Train in what you"ll compete in. That way there will be no surprises on race day.

Swim Equipment:

  • Tri shorts (you can wear these for the entire event) or swim suit
  • Tri top (you can wear this for the entire event)
  • Goggles, anti-fog
  • Towel, at least 2
  • Wet suit

Bike Equipment:

  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Tri shorts (or bike shorts for training) - Has special padding for comfort on hard saddles and long rides. Made of advanced materials to wick moisture away from the body, keeping it dryer and cooler in warm conditions and warmer in cold conditions.
    Have a smaller pad than cycling shorts to allow running and the pad does not absorb water.  The pad in most cycling shorts will absorb too much water during the swim, making it difficult to run.
  • Tri top, T-shirt (or bike jersey for training) - Made with advanced fabrics to wick moisture away from your body.
  • Gloves - Padded to add comfort to your hands and to protect in case of an accident. Many triathletes use them for training only.
  • Bike shoes - Shoes meant to be worn with clipless pedals, they are built to withstand the rigors of cycling and have a special platform that is super stiff in order to transfer your power into the pedals better. Or use toe clips and bike in your running shoes thus speeding your transitions.
  • Clipless pedals- Pedals that are designed to lock your shoe into the pedal platform. This allows you to transfer your power into the pedal stroke more efficiently. Or use toe clips on your pedals and bike in your running shoes.

Run Equipment:

  • Running shoes (It's possible to wear these for biking too.)
  • Tri top, T-shirt
  • Sunglasses
  • Tri shorts - Made of advanced materials to wick moisture away from the body, keeping it dryer and cooler in warm conditions and warmer in cold conditions.

Swim

Toothpaste can be used to defog goggles.

If you aren’t the fastest swimmer, draft off someone who passes you. The time and energy savings are good. Rather than following directly behind, swim off to one side, staying between the leader's ankles and hips.

What are the best swim goggles? I like Aqua Sphere Seal or Seal XP. The Seal XP is smaller and more hydrodynamic. Most important is that they don't leak.

Do you swim faster in the lake with a wetsuit or in a pool without? A triathlon wetsuit will always be faster than without one.

What is the best way to improve your swimming? Swim with a coached Master's Swimming group.  Coached swim workouts are offered in Davis by Davis Swim and Fitness, Davis Aquatic Masters and Davis Athletic Club.  Get the book Total Immersion and the accompanying DVD, available from Amazon.com. Also click on the Swim link in the top menu of this website.

Bike

Do not fix your bike, put on new tires, etc. the day before a triathlon. Give yourself at least one week of riding to be sure all is working correctly.

What's the difference between triathlon bikes and regular road bikes? Triathlon bikes are designed to be ridden in the aero position for maximum aerodynamic benefits in non-drafting triathlons and cycling time trials.  Triathlon bikes are designed with a different geometry than road bikes. Triathlon bikes are more forward in their seat tubes (between 75-78 degrees) and are set up lower in the front end to provide a time trial (aerodynamic) position. There is an unproven belief among some triathletes that a steeper seat tube angle emphasizes the quads more to save the use of your running muscles so that you have more get up
and go when you start the run portion of a triathlon. Regular road bikes have a more slack seat tube angle, from 72-74 degrees, and are set up for all-purpose riding. They are designed to corner, climb, and sprint well. The road bike position is more upright and less aerodynamic than a time trial position. A road bike position uses all of the leg muscles to provide as much power to the bike
as possible.  Triathlon bikes are not allowed in mass start cycling races or in some organized group training rides.

How do you change a road bike into a tri bike, besides aero bars? A road can be converted to a triathlon bike with the addition of a forward seat post and aero bars. A longer stem may be needed and spacers can be removed to lower the front end.  Wheelworks can help you with this. Converting a roadbike to a tri bike will usually put your center of gravity too far forward for aggressive downhill cornering.

The geometry of a dedicated tri bike allows you to ride in the aero position with your center of gravity further back to give you stability.

Can I use my mountain bike? If you only own a mountain bike, you can use it for a sprint triathlon. You will go faster, expending less energy on a road bike and even faster on a tri bike.  Some long course triathlons prohibit mountain bikes because they don't
want to watch you suffer. There are special off- road or X-terra triathlons where you will need a mountain bike. If you decide to start out with a mountain bike, get rid of those knobby tires and replace them with a smooth tire like Serfas Drifter City Tire or the Continental Sport Contact, the higher pressure the better.

What kind of bike should I purchase as an entry level triathlete? This is hotly debated because you won't know how much you like triathlons until you've done a few.  If you are going to mostly train solo and race only in triathlons, a tri bike is for you (you will not be able to use it for bike races or organized pack rides).  If you will be training mostly in groups, want to bike race, or do a lot of fast, downhill cornering, a road bike is for you.  Many people end up with one (or more) of each.

How do you un-clip your feet without falling off the bike? You should practice this on a trainer, or at the bike shop where you purchase your first pedals and bike shoes. The un-clipping is done by twisting the foot to the left or right.

Run

Get a race belt, just grab it, and start running, then clip it on after you've begun running.

Don’t wear socks, use Vaseline in your running shoes to avoid blisters. I always wear socks.

Don’t run with your helmet on. This is true 99% of the time but if it's cold, wet and windy as it was at the 2010 Davis Sprint Triathlon, you may find, as i did, that having a dry, warm head is best. I had a rain cover on my bike helmet and decided I was comfortable so why take the helmet off.

When should I replace my running shoes? Some experts say to replace your running shoes about every 500 miles or every 3-4 months. Another way to know is when you start to get little aches after your normal run that weren't there the week before. Or check for sole wear. Build up low spots with Shoe Goo or more mileage. Have several pairs that you trade off.

Transition

Bring along a small tub, fill it with water and leave it in your transition area. Dunk your feet after the swim for clean happy feet.

Pack all your gear in a 5 gallon plastic bucket. Turned upside down it's a great seat for putting on your shoes and socks.

What’s the best advice for transition from swim to bike? Stand up, start running, unzipp your wetsuit (while running), pull out your arms and pull your wetsuit to your waste (while still running), then remove your cap and goggles (so they are not in your hands while you are trying to pull your arms out of your wetsuit).  When you reach your bike, pull your wetsuit down to your ankles, stand on your wetsuit with your left foot while pulling your right foot up out of the suit, then do the reverse. Put your helmet on first to avoid DQ. Stand on the towel you put next to your bike before the race and quickly wipe off mud/sand  from your feet. Put on socks (or not), then cycling shoes, then run to the mount line (which you scoped out before the race) with your bike. Watch out for cyclists suddenly stopping, speed bumps, water bottles on the ground and other mayhem until you are out of the chaos zone.

What’s the best advice for transition from bike to run? Use quick laces (I use Yankz) on your running shoes. Use toe clips on your bike and that way you don't need to change shoes here.

Clothing

Do not wear cotton clothing. I frequently wear a cotton Mad Cows t-shirt for the bike and run with no problems.

Do you wear underwear under your tri/bike shorts? Never.

Why wear a one-piece tri suit?

Do ladies wear a bra during their swim? If yes what kind dries the best? The idea is to arrange to change clothes as little possible.

Food

Practice nutrition prior to the race day. Don’t experiment with new Goo’s or drinks on race day.

How should you eat before and during a race? For breakfast I have eggs and potatoes. I eat a PowerBar Energy Bar 30 minutes before the swim and half a Cliff Bar as I get on the bike. I finish the Cliff Bar as i begin my run.

Moo

Always make sure you are smiling, if not figure out what to do to make you smile.

What should I do after the triathlon? Have a beer or two.

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