Over the past couple of months I’ve had the pleasure of working with lots of first timers – first bike fit, first time using aero bars, first time on a TT bike – many of whom are preparing for their first Olympic distance triathlon this weekend in Mooloolaba.
It’s the 25th anniversay of the Mooloolaba Triathlon and about 25 years since I raced my first Olympic distance event. I’ve learnt a lot over those 25 years so from an old timer, here’s some tips for the first timers competing this weekend.
Carbohydrate Loading / Fat Loading
Personally I no longer bother with this. If I’ve been training 5, 6, 7 days a week and fueling my body accordingly, when I enter a ‘taper’ phase I simply maintain my normal diet. With the reduction in training volume I figure I’m ‘loading’ by default. I have a small meal on race eve and a small breakfast a minimum of 2hrs prior to race start.
Dramatically increasing your food intake in the days prior to an event of this duration can leave you feeling sluggish on race day. In my experience less is more.
If you’re accustomed to swimming lots of 50’s, 100’s and 200’s in a pool at ‘pace’ with a moderate amount of rest, 1500m non stop is likely going to seem like a long way. My best advice is to start the swim, in fact every leg, at a pace/effort which feels ‘more than comfortable’.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and constantly witness in others, is people charging to the first turning buoy at maximal effort only to get there and blow up. Don’t be one of these people – it can seriously derail your day. Start easy, start wide or towards the rear of your group, relax, breath and build into the swim. Better to be doing your best work at the back end rather than going too hard too early and struggling through the swim leg.
As with the swim leg, I find I perform better overall if I take the first few km’s of the ride well within myself. The bike course at Mooloolaba starts and finishes with a ‘technical section’ so as you wind through the back streets and make your way to the climb up Buderim Ave, take this opportunity to get your heart rate under control and some water and nutrition onboard. Refocus.
Once you’re onto the freeway it’s a pretty simple ride. If the current weather forecast proves to be correct you can expect a headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way home. Don’t push too hard into the wind!
The bike leg can be quite chaotic at times so keep your wits about you and always ride on the left. As you re-enter town be particularly vigilant as you turn right off Buderim Ave and onto The Esplanade. The road narrows as you near transition and there are always a number of over enthusiastic competitors who are more interested in moving themsleves through the field than worrying about the safety of others.
With regards to nutrition for the bike, I always carry mine in a bottle and have it diluted with water. This is where products such as Infinit Nutrition are ideal. But even if you’re using gels, put them in your water bottle. You won’t get covered in sticky mess, you won’t have to sit up to open the packet and then worry about how to discard the waste. If a technical official sees you drop a gel packet, whether on purpose or by mistake you WILL serve time in the sin bin.
Take it easy out of transition, when you arrive at the first aid station check in with yourself and ask ‘how do I feel?’ If you ignore what’s going on around you (blinkers on) and keep your ego in check, you’re body will give you an honest answer. From here you can adjust and monitor your pace accordingly.
If possible, take on fliud at EVERY aid station. If it’s hot (and it’s lilkely to be) grab ice and old it gently in the palm of your hands. This will help cool your core temperature.
It’s a two lap run so be sure to leave something in the tank for the second half and focus on your breathing, particularly as you approach Alex Hill. You don’t want to be struggling aerobically as you hit the base. The more controlled you are on the climb the better you’ll go on the downside. Typically the support on Alex Hill is great – embrace it.
If this is your first Mooloolaba be sure to take in the atmosphere at the finish and even walk the last part of the chute. You’ve achieved something special and you’re a hero…for the next few hours at least 🙂
- Don’t try anything new on race day, stick to what’s worked throughout your preparation.
- Socks or no socks? I get asked this question all the time. If you’re in any doubt – wear them!
- Even the most experienced athletes get nervous before a big race and if this is your first Olympic distance triathlon you are almost certainly going to feel anxious. If you find yourself fretting as you wait for your wave start to be called forward try this simple exercise – identify two complete strangers and just think “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for this person to be happy.” That’s it. It’s a simple 10 second exercise from which you’ll emerge smiling and happier than 10 seconds before.
Enjoy the day, look after yourself and your fellow competitors. See you out there!