On the heels of this past weekend’s Toronto Triathlon Festival, Coach Jas answers your most burning triathlon questions. Triathlon has never been so fun!
Hi Coach Jas, I’m thinking about doing my first triathlon, but I’m a really bad swimmer. I don’t really know where to start. I feel like I’m getting in everyone’s way when I go to length swims at the pool, so I just kind of avoid going. Do you have any advice for me?
-Living In the Slow Lane
Hi Slow Lane,
I get it. The pool can be an intimidating place. All those rubber caps and speedos, and everyone seems to know what they’re doing—including that 90 year old woman who keeps passing you with her kickboard. But here’s the thing: you have to keep going! The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single stroke, and getting to the pool allows you to put in those initial miles.
Since you’re not sure where to start, you might benefit from a single session with a coach who can break things down for you and give some individual pointers and drills unique to your challenges. (Yours truly is one excellent option.)
Before long, you’ll look back on these first few months and see how far you’ve come!
Hi Coach Jas, I’ve done a couple of triathlons, and I’ve noticed that I lose a lot of time in the transitions – swim to bike especially. What can I do to shave that time down? Any tricks?
-Feeling Stuck (In My Wetsuit)
Getting out of the water can definitely be disorienting—all that blood that has been horizontal is competing in its own race, from your head to your legs. While that’s going on, you have to somehow peel yourself out of wet neoprene as well.
Be honest: how many times have you actually performed this transition? My guess is, probably only during triathlon races. Like anything, you’ll get better at it the more you work on it. Set up a mock transition zone in your backyard or even in your living room. Put your wetsuit on, get wet and then practice taking it off.
On race day, everything should be ready in a simple, organized area. You should have only what you need, and most of it should already be on your bike. Maximize your movements to be as efficient as possible. For example, you can be doing up your bike helmet while stepping out of your wetsuit at the same time, using your feet and the ground as leverage. Know where the exits are so that you don’t waste time looking around, and get on with it!
For extra motivation, go to an event and watch the elites transition, or head over to Youtube and have a look at the olympic triathletes – they’re crazy fast!
And when all else fails, my motto is, more lube!
Fitting It All In
Hi Coach Jas, do you have any advice about fitting in all this triathlon training? I’m not sure how I’m going to train for running, biking AND swimming, with my busy schedule.
-My Heart Is In It But My Job Is Full Time
You mean you’re not using your sick days to go biking?! It sure would be nice to do nothing but train, but ALAS, this thing called life…
I encourage people to put their workout schedules in a calendar. You are more likely to keep an appointment with yourself than if you try to be spontaneous.
I also find that planning workouts in the morning is better than leaving it to the afternoon or evening, when any number of distractions can creep in. This also plays better with your nutrition: you can have something small before your workout and then a proper breakfast afterwards, rather than skipping dinner, and then eating something heavy really late in the day.
If I haven’t sold you on morning workouts yet, consider that most events start in the morning, so getting used to the early start times is part of your training too! To make it a bit easier on yourself, get organized the night before: read the weather forecast, lay your clothes out and put everything by the door—water bottles filled and ready to go.
I promise you’ll always be happy that you got your workout in early. The rest of the day, let come what may!