10 Triathlon Tips You Have Never Thought Of (But That Make You Faster!)

Here’s a blog from Coach Noah, the head coach at T1 Triathlon LLC, who can be found on coachfitter.com.

What easy triathlon tips can you use to become a faster triathlete?  What unusual triathlon tips do pro triathletes give to beginners?  There are lots of lists of triathlon tips out there (eat your Wheaties, be sure to stay hydrated, take your bike helmet off for the run – don’t laugh, I’ve seen people forget that one), but most of those triathlon tips you can think of yourself, or are pretty obvious.

This is a list of triathlon tips I have assembled, focusing on actually useful tips to being a faster triathlete, but ones that I am confident you have not heard before.  On each one of the triathlon tips you can click the links for more detail.

Added Bonus- There are actually 13 triathlon tips for the price of 10!

Pre-Race Nutrition Triathlon Tips: What You Eat Matters

1.Carb-load properly the day before the race:

  • This is one of those things that everyone thinks they know how to do but very few people get right
  • The day before the race focus on eating a LOT of easy to digest (and pass through) carbohydrates!
  • Eat them early in the day (pancakes and syrup?)
  • Your target is 15 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight- this is a LOT.  Think ~2 lb of pasta.
  • Eliminate non-carb foods the day before the race so you are not overwhelmed by calories

Swimming: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Swim

2.  Learn how to draft on the swim!

  • It’s not that hard to do, its 100% legal, and it saves a ton of energy.
  • One great spot to draft while swimming is right behind someone- everyone knows this one.
  • The secret great spot for drafting is next to the lead swimmer, but half a body length back.

Biking: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Bike

3.  Ride faster in a triathlon by riding on the white line when you are riding alone.

  • On bad pavement it will surprise you how much faster you can bike!

4.  Ride on the fast pavement whenever you can!

  • Sometimes just six inches to the left or right can be worth 1mph
  • You can see details on this triathlon tip in this article: how to ride faster in a triathlon on the faster pavement without causing a crash.

5.  Evaluate your triathlon bike fit

  • If you can’t ride for the whole bike leg (however long it takes you to ride whatever distance you are training for) in your aero-bars, you need a better triathlon bike fit.
  • It’s far more important to ride in your aero position for the entire bike leg than it is to buy an aero helmet or even to pedal really hard.
  • You can do an online triathlon bike fit, or go to a good local tri shop,
  • You can even do a DIY triathlon bike fit yourself with a video camera

6.  Learn how to pass other triathletes on the bike efficiently via slingshot passing

  • You will pass a ton of people out there- if you can save 1 second per pass by doing it smartly, it’s worth doing!
  • Ride right up behind the athlete you are passing, then swing around at the last minute, having gotten a good rest while catching up behind the lead rider
  • You have 15 seconds to go from 3 bike lengths behind to “your wheel passing the front wheel of the other athlete” -there is no reason not to use at least 10 of those 15 seconds!

7.  Conversely, you should also learn how to be passed efficiently

  • This is just a reverse slingshot pass
  • Remember you have to drop out of the 3 bike length draft zone in 15 seconds
  • But you might as well do it while directly behind the faster rider so you can rest while dropping back

8.  Use the correct triathlon race tires to have a faster bike split with no added effort.

  • While all tires may look the same (round? Check.  Black? Check) there are huge differences.
  • Some are crazy fast.  Some are slow as riding in mud.
  • A lot of research has been done on tires, and the result is a complete file of rolling resistance data (get it from the link below).
  • There is a bit of a tradeoff with puncture resistance and tire speed, so read this article on how to choose the right triathlon tire for the specific race you are training for.

9.  Use the correct tire sealant in your race tires so you can run fast (and slightly puncture prone) race tires without getting flats.

  • There are a lot of good choices for tire sealants.  My personal preference is “flat attack.”

Running: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Run

10.  Do most of your training runs SLOWER

  • Most people do almost all of their runs “at the edge of discomfort.”
  • This is too fast for your day-to-day run training.
  • The much better method is to do almost all of your runs at a very easy, comfortable speed, and finish feeling like you could do a lot more.
  • Then once a week, do a really hard speed workout.
  • This will actually make you a lot faster for races, and GREATLY reduce your recovery time and risk of injury.

11.  Aid station water is NOT for DRINKING

  • Gatorade (or whatever with carbs and salt that they are handing out) is for drinking
  • Water is for pouring on your head and keeping your hat, hair and clothes wet
  • Water is not for drinking and is not for getting into your shoes (harder)

12.  Put ice in a “Michael Jackson Glove” to manage heat

  • Ice makes a huge difference, but its hard to figure out where to put it when running
  • Wear one surgical/latex glove (yes you look kind of silly) and fill it with ice at the aid stations

13.  Develop an efficient aid station routine

  • There are 12 running aid stations in a half ironman.
  • Save a few seconds at each one and it’s 4 minutes off your race time!
  • Keep moving!  If you stop moving you lose time and your legs get cramps.  At least walk, or jog through it
  • Develop a routine and stick to it- this way as you get dumb towards the end you don’t forget something
  • The key thing to keep in mind is to do as little as possible in the aid station itself and to move on and do as much as you can while running.

About the author: Coach Noah is the head coach at T1 Triathlon LLC, a coaching company dedicated to meeting the needs of all triathletes, specifically including beginner triathletes, and often working with athletes training for their first Ironman. We had 3 first-time Ironman athletes this year, and one athlete race at Kona 18 months after starting triathlon.   You can read about our success stories, and the services we offer.

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