15 Must-Read Posts For New (And Vintage) Triathletes

It’s that time of year.  I noticed it tonight when I finished up my first brick-run of the season: The fake cherry tree on the side of my house had just started blooming.  It’s not a real cherry tree per se, but it has little flowers that look like one…so I call it one.  Don’t worry, everyone else around here does the same thing.

The real Cherry Trees around the Tidal Basin won’t bloom for another month, just as the real triathlon races (not training bricks) around here won’t start until April.  Given that we’re roughly a month away from the start of the 2011 triathlon season for most Northern Hemisphere folks (you guys in Florida and Hawaii don’t count, sorry…), I figured now’s an ideal time to take a walk down memory lane with respect to some posts that may help you out, whether you’re new to the sport – or those who want a bit more detail on some areas (you know I like detail).

So, without further ado – let’s get into the action, and there’s no better way to do it than via by sport.


1) You’re at the start line now…but did you remember everything?  Here’s my detailed checklist system for races to ensure that I start each and every leg of the race with all the gear I need.  As triathletes we need quite a bit of gear for a successful race – and you don’t want to forget anything on race day.

2) Why a swim warm-up is critical to your pre-race efforts.  If you’ve ever stood at the start of a race and watched folks get in the chilly water pre-race and wondered why…wonder no longer.  Here’s the science behind getting in the water early.

3) Swimming the line – CSI style: Understanding how swim courses are measured will save you not only seconds – but minutes.  I go in depth with satellite images and photographs from a race to analyze the best swim route.

4) You want to wear your Garmin in the water?  Well, let’s first ensure you’re using one of the Forerunner’s and not a Nuvi car GPS.  After that detail is taken care of – then read up on the best way to measure distance in the water.  While the FR310XT open-water swim mode is nice, it’s not nearly as accurate as this tried and true system.

5) More than you ever wanted to know about fast transitions: If you’re gonna train hard – it makes sense to spend a short bit of time and practice transitions.  Some folks like to use the term ‘free time’ – as it’s the one area that you don’t have to work hard to get a good time…just smarter.  Oh…and don’t forget Part II here.


1) Ensure your bike actually makes it to the race: This may sound like a funny bike tip – but if you have a bike rack on your car – I really recommend reading this post to ensure that you correctly secure your bike to your car for the drive…or you’ll find it like I did.

2) Using clip-on aerobars on a road bike: If you’re like most triathletes, you usually start with a road bike for the first few races or seasons.  You can easily turn that road bike into a passable triathlon bike with some clip-on aerobars.  Here’s the story of what I did my first season.

3) How to use CO2 for first timers: If you’re not using CO2 (or similar) on the bike – you’re likely going to be taking a substantial time-hit when you do get a flat during a race.  Oh, and fear not…that day will come…it’s just a matter of time.

4) Climbing, Cresting and Cruising: Assuming you’re not racing in southern Florida, then more than likely you’ve got some hills on the course.  Hills represent one of the most critical junctures for correct pacing to take advantage of opportunities to make up time, and not overexert yourself.  I go in-depth on the three portions of any hill.

5) You’re about to get off the bike – how exactly do you take your Garmin with you?  If you have a FR305 or a FR310XT – then you should get the quick release kit.  Here’s all you ever wanted to know about the best $15 you’ll ever spend.


1) Racing the line: Understanding how run courses are measured: If you’ve ever thought your Garmin run distance was off, then you may want to understand how exactly run courses are measured – as you’ll find tons of ways to save time and distance on the run.

2) Top tips from a new USAT referee, and what I look for: Do you know which side it’s legal to pass on, and how long you have to pass?  Did you know that having an outside friend pace you on the run can get you a penalty?  And drop that gel wrapper in the wrong place and you’ll find yourself with a standing penalty.  If you’re a bit rusty on the rules – start here.

3) If you want to improve your run, you need to improve your bike: While most triathlon training plans have balance between run and bike training already – it’s really important to understand that if you overcommit on the bike during a race, it hurts you on the run.

4) Downloading workouts into your Garmin: While during the bike you’ll likely be fighting the urge to go too hard, it’s the run where you’ll need initial pacing to go too fast, but ultimately you’ll probably need some encouragement to keep up the pace.  I occasionally pre-program my Garmin device with my race plan, where it’ll yell (or vibrate) all race day long if I’m not following it.  Like having that loud-mouthed high school coach on your wrist…

5) Spinning after a hard run: Ok, this one is technically post-run – but it’s a really important one post-race to ensure a speed recovery.  You’d be amazed how much 30 minutes later that day will do recovery wise – mind boggling.

Bonus Post: Are you a race director (or just a wannabe one?) – Then check out my big ole rant about what I like and don’t like at races.  And by the looks of the comments, plenty of folks are with me on this one…

Thanks for reading!


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  1. Using the 310XT during the swim is super easy and accurate if you have the quick release kit. The unit goes in the bathing cap while the watch strap stays on the wrist. Just don’t forget to snap it on the bike mount in T1.

  2. Great overview of what you need and expect before and on race day. Thanks.

  3. I have to agree with the Nations Tri. That was just insane.

  4. How about something from the April 2011 issue of Triathlete magazine. What’s that watch on Jason Nielsen’s wrist in the cover photo? It’s also on page 107 being worn by Hillary Biscay.

    Great posts!

  5. Interesting – I’m not actually what that is, but I suspect it’s a hiking related product.

    The photo was taken during the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge back in early December 2010.

    (Back info here: link to wedali.blogspot.com)

    Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I have been trying to get the name of that watch without sucess, if you have some info please post it.