MMRF Endurance Events
Esteemed athlete Tom Holland provides answers to runners' most frequently asked questions.
1. DO I WEAR THE SAME THING THE WHOLE TIME OR DO I CHANGE CLOTHES?
It's up to you. Some people wear the same outfit from start to finish; other people change outfits for the bike and/or the run. You can buy special tri-specific technical clothing for both men and women that dry quickly and can be worn for the swim all the way through to the run.
2. I WANT TO CHANGE OUTFITS. HOW DO I DO THIS?
While bigger races like the Ironman have changing tents for privacy, most smaller races do not. A good idea is to have an extra towel in your transition area that you wrap around yourself if you plan on changing clothes.
3. WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET A FLAT TIRE?
You should always bring spare tubes and a pump or CO2 inflation system in case you get a flat. If you don't know how to change a flat tire, watch a YouTube video or ask your local bike shop for a quick lesson. There are also special small inflation devices you can purchase that allow you to blow up and patch the tire without having to change the tube. Chances are you won't get a flat, but you want to be prepared just in case bad luck strikes.
4. DO I NEED A WETSUIT?
Wetsuits help keep you warm while also increasing your buoyancy, which makes you a more efficient swimmer. Unless the water is too warm for a wetsuit (you can overheat if you wear one when the water temp is around 80 degrees or more) most people choose to wear one given the benefits.
5. DO I NEED TO BUY A SPECIAL "TRI BIKE?"
I rented a bike for my first few triathlons. It depends on the race distance and your goals, but you can do it on a mountain bike, hybrid, road, bike, whatever.
6. I WANT TO BUY A NEW BIKE FOR MY RACE. HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
You could spend anywhere from $500 to $15,000 or more on a bike if you wanted to. You can however, buy a perfectly good entry-level bike for $1000-$2000.
7. WHAT SHOULD I EAT BEFORE A RACE?
If you are doing a sprint or Olympic-distance tri then there is no reason to add in additional calories before the race. Simply eat what you would normally have before a bigger workout. If you are doing a half or full Ironman triathlon, then you will want to start taking in additional carbohydrates starting 2-3 days before your race.
8. I AM NERVOUS ABOUT THE SWIM...
Of all three legs of the triathlon, it is the swim that stresses people out the most. Two things you can do to help alleviate this: One, after the gun goes off, count to ten before getting in the water to let the faster swimmers get ahead of you, and two, start on the outside of the pack rather than the inside. You may swim a slightly longer distance but you will avoid the trashing that goes on inside the "swim scrum."
9. WHERE DO I PUT ALL MY RACE GEAR DURING THE RACE?
At most races you will have a transition area consisting of rows and rows of bike racks. You will "rack" your bike on the spot with your corresponding race number, then lay out all of your gear next to your bike. Sneakers, clothing, nutrition, everything you will be using during the event. I recommend bringing a small towel and laying it on the ground to mark your spot, then put all your gear on top of it.
10. WHAT GEAR DO I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO DO THE TRI?
Five things: A race outfit, swim goggles, bike, bike helmet and running sneakers. Everything else is extra.
11. I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS!
Read my book The 12-Week Triathlete. It is filled with the answers to all your tri questions. I have raced every distance on almost every continent and I have made all the mistakes so you don't have to!