22 March 2017

Top ten triathlon tips

August 20, 2012
Nel McAndrew on Run course

With Olympic Triathlon events inspiring many of us to dust off the road bike or pound the pool or pavement, Sportsister’s Katy Dartford  has caught the tri bug and signed up for the Virgin Active London Triathlon in September.

In preparation for the big day, Katy has been to the Virgin Active Triathlon training day in Richmond, an event for tri novices to help put their minds at rest. Here are Katy’s top tips from the day.


1)    Arrive at least 20 minutes early to put your wetsuit on. When putting on your wetsuit, put your legs and arms in all the way and pinch it up, then bend over and scrunch the tummy area and pull it all up. Use lube around the hairline and neck but wash hands before you touch your goggles. Once you’ve got into the water, allow for some water to come into the suit around the neck then flush it out.

2)    Wearing a wetsuit makes you 3-5 minutes quicker if you use the correct swimming technique as the rubber keeps you buoyant. Try not to use your legs much as you will need them later. This also helps you not to square your hips off and instead you can rotate your shoulders and upper body better for more power and momentum.

3)    The correct swimming position can be achieved by laying in the water on your front and burying your head down so that your feet and hips come up. The further you get your head down the better your body position will be.

4)    Swim with a straighter arm style, bending them means you have to force the arm straight. Roll with your hips and leave your arms relaxed, even slapping the water. Keep your arms shoulder width apart. The pull under the water is where all the power comes from, so brush your hand past your hips. Don’t let your strokes get short and fast, try to make as few turns as possible but make them count. This gives you more time to breath.

5)    Try to site every four strokes – just lift your eyes out of the water and look straight ahead quickly.


1)    In preparation, keep in your saddlebag a puncture repair kit which you should know how to use, have an inner tube and use a gel pump or a canister of CO2 – for speed. Check your tyre pressure. Carry gels, water and sugary food especially for after an hour of riding. Take your phone.

2)    Familiarise yourself with where transition is. Try to get the best slot you can, which is normally at the end of the rack. Make sure your bike faces the exit and put your kit in front of the bike, with the helmet undone and resting on the handles. Have gels tapped to the bike. Bring a Tupperware box to keep your kit in and put your cycle and running shoes on a towel and socks. Make sure the towel is bright so you can spot it. Put your helmet on first, then shoes.

3)    Keep your race number on an elastic belt so you can wear it on your rear on the bike ride then spin it round to your front for the run.

4)    Make sure you are in a suitable gear straight away with the front chain ring on the big cog and the back half way down the cassette.

5)    You are not allowed to “draft” during the race, i.e. sitting directly behind someone to gain an advantage.


1)    Stand on your tip toe and lean forward until you begin to drop. This is the position you need to be in for running to avoid the Triathlete shuffle. Engage your gluts by imagining you are trying to hold a credit card between them. Run as if you are pulling your feet out of a bucket, or a knee to the groin or calves to thigh. Drive your arms forward held at a 90 degrees angle.

2)    Try running at a pace of 3 strides a second then when going uphill and downhill keep this cadence with your arms pumping harder uphill. Downhill, keep a light foot so there are less opposing forces hitting you.

3)    Try some core exercises like single leg squats, the plank and Russian rotation – but avoid sit ups as they can weaken the muscles already weakened from running.

4)    After your run, make sure you at least stretch the quads, hamstrings, quads and gluts.

5)    And finally, a good tip for tri is to have elastic laces so you don’t waste precious seconds tying them.

For more info see:





Katy Dartford, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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