100 Tips for a Successful Triathlon

Preparation and Transition

The transition in a triathlon race occurs between the swim and bike, and between the bike and run.  A fast but carefully planned transition is essential to competitive times. What you do before and after a race is also very important to performance and recovery.

                                                           2014 Timberman

Eat something easy to digest in the morning of the race, like a Powerbar or two

Check list for what to take to the race:

              Tri-Fed Card

              Picture I.D.

              Athletes' Guide for race

              Directions to race and to hotel

              Receipt for race registration and hotel registration

              Warm clothes and change of clothes for after race


              Items on list below

Check list for the race itself:

Two Powerbars or equivalent (for before the race)

Water bottles with sports drink (and salt if needed) for bike and run

Gels in a  water bottle or separately

wetsuit, goggles and swimcap

bike, bike shoes, helmet, tool kit, spare inner tube, CO2 cartridge and holder

bicycle pump

Powerglide or equivalent (to help get wetsuit off and prevent chafing)

running shoes and socks

timing chip (if provided)



race numbers for bike, run and helmet

cap (for run)

Other possibilities include knee brace, towel, container of water (to clean feet)

Keep spare wheels in your car in case they are needed  (I've had to use them four times when I had flats or broken spokes before or during a race)

Some races provide "tattoo" numbers. Apply to recommended places with warm, wet towel.  Make sure numbers are right side  up and in order.

For a more detailed checklist, see triathlon.racechecklist.com

Carry plenty of carbohydrates and salt during the race

For a half Ironman, I carry two bottles with sports drink on my bike and a third  bottle with water mixed with gel from five gelpacks in a back pocket of my jersey.  I carry still another bottle with sports drink on the run, and refill it as necessary at aid stations.  Lately, I have been adding a buffered salt tablet to each of these four bottles because I have found  I am not getting enough salt from the sports drinks. Experiment with salt tablets, gels  and sports drinks during training to find a combination that suits you.

Get in line early for the port-a-jons

Or face a long wait

Pinpoint where you are in the transition area so you can find your stuff easily from any direction when you return from the swim and bike

Make sure your bike is in a low gear

Check to make sure bike is braking and shifting properly, and tires are fully inflated

Use expandable shoelaces or other means of avoiding having to tie running shoelaces

Practice taking off your wetsuit

Run 20 minutes to warm up before the race

Warm up by swimming before the race or, if not possible, by doing pushups.

Registration, Package Pickup and Race Preparation:

      -Register early and reserve a nearby hotel room well ahead of time for popular triathlons; they fill up fast

       -Pick up your numbers and T-shirt the night before the race if possible.  Race morning you will have to wait in line and may be late for the start of the race.

     -Usually your assigned number will come on three pieces of paper: one  to put on your bike, one  to put on your helmet (for the photographers to know who you are), and one for the shirt you will run in. Some races now provide an extra number and require that you carry a number on your back during the bike and in front during the run.  One way of meeting this requirement is to attach a number to a belt with the number turned behind for the bike and to the front for the run. Remember to get safety pins for the running number.

      -Sometimes you will get a wrist band which is used to get into the transition area and get food after the race.

      -You also may get an electronic chip to strap to your ankle for official timing.  Remember to return it or you will be charged the family jewels.

      -Ride your bike before racking it to make sure everything is functioning.

      -Mechanics may check your bike for problems at the time of package pickup or on race day morning.  Usually you will be marked by magic marker race morning with your number on your shoulders and above your knee.  Your age will be written on the rear of a calf (for once being older is better).

     -Race directors will sometimes give a prerace briefing the day before the race or the morning of the race (or both).  These are very useful for first time racers. They discuss the course for each of the three sports, any problems to be aware of and give guidance on the transition.

      -You should arrange your stuff at the place you are told to rack your bike in the transition. Make sure the bike is in a low gear and the tires are not flat. Check your brakes to make sure they are not binding the wheel.  Put your water bottles on the bike. Arrange your biking shoes, helmet, socks and sun glasses next to your bike, and your running shoes behind. Make sure all laces are loose on your shoes so you can put them on quickly.  Some people have a towel or pan of water to wash off their feet (this is especially good if you run from the water through mud or sticky sand). If you are taking bars or gels, make sure they are next to your biking and/or running stuff.

      -Make careful note of  where your bike is in the transition area by finding one or more landmarks (such as a tree), and by knowing how many rows you are from one end of the transition area. Also note where the in and out are for the bike and for the run (usually they are different).

      -Put on any lubricant you need to help get off your wetsuit and help reduce friction on the bike and anywhere else you need it.

      -Run 20 minutes to warm up

      -Put on your wetsuit and warm up for the swim.

      -Go like hell!