These are all things that come quite naturally to me, but then not everyone grew up with a World Champion triathlete for a mother. So while I may have missed out on learning how to do my make-up and how to walk in heels, I was definitely fast-tracked in tri hacks.
So here it goes. Instead of letting you struggle and figure it all out over a couple of years and numerous races I am going to hand it to you on a platter.
Putting on your wetsuit: to make it easy to get out of your wetsuit once you are done with the swim leg, smear a healthy quantity of baby oil on your lower legs and forearms.
Use a normal Pick ‘n Pay packet to make it easier to put your wetsuit on as it can be quite an effort when you are all hot and sweaty from your warm up. Put your foot into the packet and then pull on that leg of the wetsuit. It should just slide on. Then remove the packet. You can do this when putting your arms in as well.
Once your wetsuit is on you can also put some baby oil on the forearms and lower legs of the wetsuit. As you take your wetsuit off it turns inside out and this should help it to slide off.
Goggles: my biggest complaint with goggles is that they always fog up making it very difficult to navigate in open water. Baby shampoo is magic! Smear it onto the inside of each lens and then rinse thoroughly under a tap. You shouldn’t need to touch the lenses again.
Exiting the water: your first priority is to make sure you can see clearly so lift your goggles onto your head almost as soon as your feet have found solid ground, but leave your cap and goggles on your head as you don’t want these in your hand as you try and take off your wetsuit.
Running to transition: while running to transition you can start taking your wetsuit off. Unzip it as you run and pull it down to your waist. Once you have done this you can take your cap and goggles off just before you arrive at your transition area.
Transition 1 (T1): it can be quite difficult to find where you left your bike when there are rows and rows of bikes in transition and your heart rate is 180. Take special note of which row you are in and maybe leave a coloured towel there that you can stand on during T1.
You can be quite rough with your wetsuit when taking it off. I tend to stand on my wetsuit as I try and get it off my ankles as you want to avoid having to sit down and use your hands.
Leave your helmet hanging from the handlebars of your bike or resting on your tribars. This eliminates having to bend down and pick it up off the ground.
If you need to race with a race number belt, leave it clipped together and hanging from your bike’s handlebars. Coming out of the swim you can be quite clumsy and don’t want the added hassle of trying to clip the belt together. This way you can just step into your race belt.
Nutrition on the bike: most triathletes like to take a gel for extra energy while they are racing. This could prove to be a problem as you generally don’t have pockets and don’t have to have to pick up extra things in transition. What triathletes do is use electrical tape to tape a gel to the top tube of their bike. One can then just tear it off while cycling and consume it.
Elastic laces: replacing your shoes’ normal laces with elastic laces that do not need to be tied will save you a lot of time. You can use normal white elastic about 5mm wide, lace your shoe normally and tie off. Special tri elastic laces are also available at shops that stock triathlon stuff.
Again, put some baby powder in your running shoes and grab the tongue and the back of the shoe when pulling your shoes on to prevent the tongue bunching up.
Transitions are called the 4th discipline of triathlon and you can save a lot of time if you spend some time thinking about what needs to be done and practicing a few times.
So that’s it. My tri hacks. I hope they make you feel a little more “pro” the next time you race.
Let me know if you have anything to add!