03 December 2022

Triathlon: Top race day tips from Jodie Stimpson

June 7, 2017
World Triathlon Auckland

Jodie Stimpson is every bit as lovely, warm and helpful as you would imagine. We spoke before my first dip in the Serpentine in preparation for the Vitality London Triathlon, and now I wonder how on earth I would have managed without all her great advice. Here it is –  a must read for newbie and novice triathletes everywhere.

World Triathlon Auckland

The swim

If your event takes place in open water then it’s really important to try and get some experience beforehand. For many people this is the most challenging part, but with practice it gets a lot easier.

Firstly it’s important to go in the right direction, the buoys are petty big and easy to spot, but it also helps to use a second landmark as a guide. So when you are in the water, before you start, see if there are any other landmarks in line with the buoy that are easy to spot – like a skyscraper or large tree.

It will most probably be scrappy in the swim, (unless you swim out on the edge or hang back ) unfortunately that’s just the way it is, so you can either try and stay out of trouble or kick back. If you find someone is grabbing at your ankles, just kick back hard especially at the turns – then people will avoid you.

Swim – bike transition

As you approach the transition kick hard again and get the blood flowing in your legs, that will help you run to your bike.

As you approach the exit, do two more strokes than you think you need before you stand up – then you wont’ be wading so far and it will be easier to stand up.

When you are setting up your transition area make sure you spend a bit of time orientating yourself. Take a note of where you will arrive from the water and make a note of your row and where you are in it and again look for landmarks.

If you are not sure about anything then ask a marshal, get them to explain the entry and exit routes so you are not panicking when it comes to it.

Take your time, don’t panic.

Baby gel on your body will help you get your wetsuit off quickly, concentrate particularly on your forearms and calves as that’s where the suits will stick most. Some triathletes even cut their wetsuits just below the knee at a diagonal so they pop off even quicker.

Take the top half off as you are running to the bike then remove the bottom half. Helmet goes on first, then race belt – leave it on your shoes ready clipped and put it on like a skirt. Then put on your your shoes and away you go. (You can straighten up your race number when you are on your bike.)

If you are worried about having wet feet you can stand on a towel covered in talc during the transition and then your feet will be pretty dry once you put your shoes on.

Also if it’s raining on the day, cover your shoes with a plastic bag to stop them getting sodden.

When heading for the bike mount line, you can run slightly past the transition point if it’s really busy, keep running to a clear spot, it will be quicker.

The bike

You are not allowed to draft, so you just need to go round people in front, but be aware of fast riders coming up on the outside too.

At the corner, always go wider than you think you need to. It will give you lots more room, slow down as you come into the corner and then accelerate away.

Bike to run transition

Hop off your bike before the transition line and then head to your spot. Again, when you are setting up your area make sure you know where it will be from the direction of the bike ride, as it will be different to the swim.

So, this is the most straight forward part, you dump your bike, take off your helmet and if you are already in your running shoes you are set to go. If you have left your cycle shoes on the bike then it’s running shoes on and go.

If you need to wear a running bra then make sure you have lots of vasoline to help prevent chaffing.

The run

Your legs will feel like jelly whatever, so just be prepared for that. It may take ½ a mile to a mile to get into your stride so don’t panic – relax and build your speed slowly.

If you can fit in some specific training beforehand that will help, even if you just do a five minute run at the end of each bike ride – it all gets you used to the feeling and your muscles will remember

Head to the finish line, your moment of glory… and then start planning your next adventure!

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine


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