Before competing in triathlons and Ironman races, our expert and Zoot Sports sponsored athlete, Jennifer Vogel was a runner—an ultra endurance runner, to be exact. Having set records in ultra marathon distances of 35 to 100 miles, this pavement pounder knows how to succeed on her own two feet. And to succeed at that level means you’ve got to make some mistakes along the way. Since she points out that many tri-newbies are runners first, we put our heads together to help you avoid some common missteps on the final leg of your race.
Not taking in enough fuel. If you have a half-marathon or marathon background, you might have a good grasp on fueling, but in a triathlon you have to remember that you’ve already pre-exhausted your stores during the first two legs. The best time to figure out the right nutrition plan? During all those training sessions. Try different formulas—gels, chews, liquids—to find out which sit well when you’re on the go. What works on the bike might not work as well on the run, so practice makes perfect. And remember the golden rule: Never try something new on race day.
Skimping on the bricks. Brick workouts are when you practice transitioning from one sport to the next, essentially doing two workouts back-to-back. Translation: your legs usually feel like bricks when you do this. The most common brick is the bike-to-run since it’s the easiest to practice with less gear changes required. If you feel exhausted at the beginning of your second workout, don’t fret—it takes most people about one mile to get their muscles used to the new movement. Runners are used to feeling fresh-legged at the beginning of their races, so practicing bricks will help retrain your muscles and give you a good opportunity to test out your nutrition plan.
Clocking positive splits. One of the keys to triathlon is allocating enough energy to perform well in each sport while still leaving some gas in the tank to finish all three legs. When you finally get past the swim and bike, it’s easy to excitedly speed out of the second transition. But remember to reserve energy for the second half of the run. You want to aim for negative splits on the back end; start opening up your stride in the final miles and finish strong.
Wasting time with laces. It’s not totally necessary to ditch your laces if you’re a beginner triathlete, but it’s worth shaving a few seconds off your transition time for the more experienced competitors. Think about replacing your running shoes with triathlon sneakers, like the Zoot Sports Women’s Ultra Tempo 6.0 . Not only do these feature Quick-Lace, which allows you to lace up with one swift pull, but they also have internally seamless features to help prevent blisters and TriDry technology that keep your feet dry during the run. Love the shoes your in? Try swapping out the laces for Speed Laces ($6, speedlaces.com).
Photo provided by Jennifer Vogel