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The Ultimate Newbies Guide to Triathlons

So, you are thinking about doing a triathlon.

What is it that has motivated you?

Is it personal pride, the physical challenge, the thrill of competition?

Perhaps you were flipping the channels one Fall Saturday afternoon and became mesmerized by a bunch of crazy people swimming, biking and running for an entire day while vacationing on some beautiful tropical island. Maybe you were out picking up the morning paper and saw your neighbor heading out for a bike ride. Or did you attend a local triathlon in your area and notice the wide mouthed grins on the faces of the racers as they crossed the finish line?

Whatever the reason, all I have to say is… EXCELLENT and CONGRATULATIONS!

But be careful…

This triathlon thing is a like a poisonous bug…if you aren’t careful, it will bite you. And the poison once in your system is like an addictive elixir. You may never want to quit!

But where do I begin?

Let’s take a look.

Plan Ahead

Now comes the time for you to seriously consider what lies ahead. Now you must sit down with yourself and think about the reality of what it will take for you to be one of those smiling, satisfied human beings crossing the finish line.

To begin with, ask yourself some questions that are tied directly to your home.

Are you married? Do you have kids? What is your daily work schedule? Do you work full time outside the home or do you work full time in the home?

If you are married, you owe it to your mate to discuss this with him/her. Sit down with your partner and discuss the reality of doing a TRI. Of coarse, the initial conversation can be very encouraging. But understand one thing, neither you nor your partner really knows the type of commitment training for a triathlon takes…physically, emotionally and yes, financially.

Physically, you have your own mind, body and sole to think about. Training for triathlons takes commitment, hard work (it will seem so at first) good conditioning, quality time and oh yea, did I mention commitment?

Emotionally, you have to deal with fatigue, mental letdowns, outside responsibilities, last minute interruptions to your training program and of coarse the good times too!

Financially, the expenses can become overwhelming. You’ve got running shoes, cycling shoes, running and cycling apparel, a bicycle, swim suits, goggles, gym fees and pool fees…and yes they all add up.

If you have children, write out a schedule that includes your training and daily responsibilities, with which you and your partner can work and live. And assume you are doing this for the long haul. Anyone can be accommodative for one event. But after that first triathlon, what happens if you love it so much you want to continue? Patience on your partner’s part may be short lived. And let’s not forget…your partner can always train with you!

And of course, if you are single with children, the scheduling can be even tougher.

But it can be done.

And finally, if you are single, with no children, than you have NO EXCUSES.

I am not here to discourage you, but rather let you know some of the basic facts that go along with triathlon training and racing. But remember, there are folks just like you who have considered these very things, have set out on this very journey and wound up loving it!

Getting Down to Business

First things first…

Before you take another step…you need a goal. Something to shoot for…something to keep you motivated.

To begin, I suggest you choose a particular triathlon preferably close to home. Research the various triathlon magazines or search the Internet for a calendar of races in your area.

Choose a Race

My first recommendation would be to choose a Sprint Distance Triathlon. Determine the time between now and race day and give yourself enough time to adjust to your new training regimen. And set aside enough time to provide for a safe, injury free training period. Furthermore, do not rush your training. I would not schedule a race any sooner than 10 weeks out. And the farther out, the better. Below is a break down of the distances covered in a Sprint Distance Triathlon.

The Sprint Distance Triathlon:
Swim: ¼ mile = 400 – 500 yards(meters)
Bike: 9 – 15 miles
Run: 5K or 3.1 miles

There will always be variations in the distances of a Sprint Tri, but most will be pretty close to those listed above

Once you have decided on a race, sit down and map out a training schedule to fit your daily routine. You will find two 10-week training programs for beginners in the Training Program section of this site. Use it as a model for your own schedule.

Finding the Time

The first thing to determine when training for a triathlon is – when will you do your training? If you work full time, you will have to create a training schedule compatible with your work schedule.

Depending on your athletic background, no longer will your training consist of simply heading out for a run, driving to the pool for a swim or hopping on your bike for an afternoon ride. You must now combine all three sports as part of your training regimen and perhaps even some strength training in the weight room(primarily for strength and endurance).

And you must understand, the majority of your training will consume most of your “one time” free time.

Believe me, this will test your commitment. But like I said, most of the folks in this crazy sport are in the same boat, and somehow we all find a way.

Determine Your Goals

I do not know what your goals are regarding triathlon but we can break that down into two basic categories:

  1. To finish the race
  2. To be competitive in the race.

Because it is your first race, I am guessing your main goal is to finish the race and hopefully with a smile on your face! If you decide you love this sport, you will find there are plenty of triathlons out there for you to participate in and if so desired, you can adjust and build your training program around a more competitive performance.

If you decide to become more competitive in your racing, your training will probably become more advanced. Your training program would have to be more organized and well planned. If you decide you want to stick with this sport, then you really must learn to train with patience. Burnout, excess fatigue, injuries and ultimately frustration can develop due to over training, and a discipline, conservative training regimen is absolutely necessary.

Get the Gear!

Now comes the fun part…coughing up the greenbacks! The first thing to determine is what do you currently possess regarding equipment, training aids, etc and what will you need to purchase? If your birthday or a holiday is coming up you can also add some great to your wish list, check out our top gifts for triathletes. Below is a basic list of those items necessary for training and competition in the sport of triathlon:

The Swim Gear

  1. Competitive Swim Suit (usually made of lycra). A swim brief is not a must in the beginning. Any swimsuit will do. Guys, you may feel uncomfortable wearing a men’s swimming brief, but if you choose to become more competitive in this sport, a quality suit is crucial to your training. For the ladies, the choices are many, especially regarding racing apparel, so do some research and find out what is best for you.
  2. Goggles and a cap. You will be racing in a cap, so wearing one may help you get used to it. For ladies and long-haired guys, you will want a cap to keep the hair out of your eyes while swimming. Get a rubber cap, not lycra. As for triathlon goggles, check our the top goggles for triathlons.
  3. (Optional) A kick board, pull buoy and paddles. If you swim with a masters program or at your local pool facility, these items will probably be available. If they are not and you do decide to stick with this sport, I would consider making the purchase.

The Bike Gear

  1. A Bicycle– at this point, do not concern yourself with purchasing a new bicycle. Any bike with gears will be fine. In fact, many of today’s Sprint races have a “fat tire” division for those with mountain bikes, hybrids et.al. It is important, however, to have a bike that fits your body.
  2. Bike Shoes. Again, if you decide to stick with this sport, you will need a pair of bike shoes. For your first race, however, you can cycle in your running shoes. Make sure the bike pedals on your bicycle do not require specific cycling shoes. If they do, you will have to make a decision…either purchase different pedals or invest in some bike shoes. If your bike does have cycling specific pedals, I recommend having them switched out for a pair of basic pedals with a toe clip. A new pair of bike shoes can run you between $100-300. Where as, a set of standard pedals would probably only set you back about $30 (maybe less!). The bike shop will be able to change them out in a matter of minutes.
  3. Cycling apparel. I do recommend purchasing a couple pairs of cycling shorts for your training. Your derriere will be glad you did. Visit your local bike shop or search the Internet. You will find a list of the leading retailers listed in the Tri-Links section of this site.
  4. Cycling Computer. A cycling computer will be helpful with your training in determining your speeds and distances. But it is not a necessity. And there are many on the market. If you want one, find the most basic and least expensive.
  5. Water bottles and Repair Equipment. Water is vital! You will need water bottles (and bottle cages) for your bicycle. Having spare equipment will do you little good if you do not know how to change a tire. Especially if you are training alone. And always take along some money for a phone call(s) in the event you are left stranded. I have flatted out twice on one ride and all my spares were used up. One phone call, and 15 minutes later, a friend was there to pick me up. For now, I suggest you cycle close to home or with a partner. But for most of us, cycling close to home often means cycling in busier traffic so always cycle with caution.

The Run Gear

  1. A good pair of running shoes.This is very important. If at all possible, try to purchase your first pair from a knowledge source. That is someone who can look at your feet and determine what you may need. Good shoes are important. If there is a running specific store in your area…use it! Even if the shoes are expensive. Once you find a pair you love, then you can order online all day long and really save.
  2. Comfortable Apparel. This includes comfortable and weather appropriate clothing.
  3. Running Hat. If the sun is hot, a good cap is a plus to shade your face. Find one made with mesh. This will allow heat from your head to pass through.

Other Accessories

  1. Heart Rate Monitor. Once you decide you want to stick with this sport, invest in a Heart Rate Monitor. It will wind up being your favorite training partner. You will find a good source for heart rate monitors on our gears page.
  2. Wetsuit. Again, if you decide to stick with the sport, you will want to invest in a wetsuit as well. Now, for those of you living in areas where the waters remain chilly throughout the Spring and Summer you may want to consider wearing a wetsuit from the get go. But before you buy, see if you can borrow. Do not purchase a Dive suit or Surfing wetsuit. The material is much thicker and suits tend to be looser fitting. A Triathlon wetsuit is light and basically skin tight and allows for terrific mobility. We have a great triathlon wetsuit guide for you to check out.

One + One + One = One

I want to emphasize that even though you may excel in one particular sport (swim, bike or run), it is important to balance all three activities when training. If you are a runner, for example, you will have an advantage over most of the triathletes during your race, as long as you have not wasted yourself on the swim and bike. Because your race performance will be a direct result of your training, a balanced training program is necessary. Once you add two additional sports to your training regimen, your specialty may actually suffer a bit, at least in the beginning. Remember, two of the three events in triathlon – the bike and run – put a great deal of stress on the legs, so again, balance is the key to preventing over training and ultimately injuries.

The Breakdown of Each Event

Now let’s discuss each event as they exist in a traditional triathlon.

The Swim

Without going into the specifics of “How to Swim”, and not knowing your swimming background, I do have a few suggestions. If you are having difficulty with your freestyle in any way and you want to learn some specific drills to improve your stroke, you will find Four Drills that Will Make You Swim Faster located on this site. Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion is also a good source for swim drills. If there is a masters swim program in your area with a coach, than I recommend you join. If you do have to swim solo, I have provided several workouts located in the swim section of this site.

Here are some basic facts that may help you as you approach your swim training. Most of today’s pools are 25 yards in length and one length = 25 yards. 4 lengths = 100 yards. In a Sprint Distance Triathlon, the typical swim is a quarter mile (¼) or around 400-500 yards, which is equal to 16-20 lengths. Now, some of you may be swimming in a 50 meter pool which will be a bit different regarding lengths and distances.

Refer to conversion chart below:

25 yard pool: 50 meter pool:
1 length = 25 yards 1 length = 50 meters
2 lengths = 50 yards 2 lengths = 100 meters
4 lengths = 100 yards 4 lengths = 200 meters
16 lengths = 400 yards 8 lengths = 400 meters
20 lengths = 500 yards 10 lengths = 500 meters

Cycling

Beginning a cycling program does not have to be difficult. As mentioned earlier, you will need a bike with gears. And this can be a mountain bike, a hybrid, or preferably a road/triathlon bike. Regardless of the bike you choose easy riding and building mileage is the key. You can start out with 10 miles or so on your rides and build to 25-30 miles in a relatively quick period of time without injury. In the beginning, do not worry about speed. If you live in a hilly area, try to stay as aerobic as possible on the uphill climbs. Switch to lower gears and try to stay in the saddle. If you happen to have a heart rate monitor, use it and try to keep your heart rate within your aerobic zone. If want to know more about Heart Rat Monitors and Methods of Heart Training click here .

Also, do not worry about spending big dollars on fancy bike equipment at this point. If you decide to stick with this sport, there will be plenty of time for you to blow your dough on the bike!

Just remember. Make sure your bike is safe and operating, as it should. Take it by your local bike shop and get properly fit. Have them check the brakes, the tires, the gears, etc. to make sure your ride is ready for the roads.

Running

If you are not or have not been a “runner” or you are not in the best condition, or perhaps you are returning to running after a long hiatus and you are heavier than normal, you need to approach your running program with care and some smarts. And, there are some excellent books on the market that will help you design a plan to get you high steppin’ on the roads and trails:

Tim Noakes..Running Lore
Jeff Galloway…Marathon Training
Phil Maffetone…In Fitness and in Health

The reason I refer you to these books, besides the fact that they are interesting and helpful for over all health and fitness, is because these authors endorse walking as a means of building a running program. And they incorporate walking in their programs.

Folks, there is nothing wrong with walking before or during a running program. At 6’4″ and 200 lbs, my size just doesn’t warrant me pounding the pavement as often as many of my lighter, quicker compadre’s! So I add some walking. And I find it wonderful. But to each his own and you will learn what is best suited for your body, your size and your physical condition. If you do run on a fairly regular basis, run easy and keep your heart rate a little lower than normal, at least until you begin to acclimate yourself to your new training regimen.

And as mentioned earlier (and I cannot mention it enough) get yourself a pair of good running shoes. Visit a running specific store if at all possible and have someone check out your body position, how you stand, your gate or stride, your feet, etc. and determine what shoe is best for you.

In Conclusion

In closing, remember you are incorporating a rather busy and body intensive training regimen – three sports and some weight lifting – with your already busy day. So please, train carefully and use your brain. Our goal at Tri-Newbies Online is keep you involved in this sport for the long haul.

Be patient and Good luck.

Ultimate Guide Heart Rate Training for Athletes

Today, heart rate monitors are being used in all forms of exercise and have earned their place in the training world as a legitimate training aid.

And why are they so popular?

Because they work!

About Your Heart

The heart is the battery of our complicated human body, much like a 12- volt battery is the heart of an automobile.  And like an automobile, when our “battery” fails to operate everything else ceases to function, regardless of how well the working parts are capable of performing.  

Since the introduction of the heart rate monitor, athletes have been able to evaluate their health, fitness and athletic performance simply by the beat of their heart.  This watch-like instrument coupled with a chest strap can play the role of doctor, physiologist, training partner and even coach.

Do you have a cold or flu?  Are you stressed out about work?  Are you overtrained?  Did you sleep poorly last night?  Are you running too fast?  Are you cycling too hard?  Combined with a little common sense and deductive thought, the heart rate monitor can answer all of these questions. And its accuracy is remarkable.

Heart Rate Monitoring for Athletes

Therefore it is no surprise that this wonderful little tool has been so widely accepted among triathletes all over the world. With the physical demand triathlon places on the human body, the heart rate monitor has proven to be an essential tool for a successful, well-balanced training and racing program.

Typically, triathletes use the heart rate monitor as a means of keeping tabs on their aerobic system.  But it can also come in handy during anaerobic training as well.

Whats the difference between aerobic and anaerobic?

A good question and one that should be addressed before we continue.

As triathletes in training and utilizing every ounce of energy our body can produce, it is necessary to understand the meaning of such terms and their place in the training world for an effective training program.

Aerobic Training

Today, the term aerobic has become somewhat of a buzzword synonymous with long, easy, “steady – state” training.  And when exercising aerobically, all internal systems are operating in synch.  Fat becomes your source of energy.  

You take in just the right amount of oxygen, which feeds the blood, which is pumped throughout the body by an efficient heart, feeding the muscles, ideally allowing you to exercise endlessly without fatigue.  Of course, you must have the physical strength to keep pace with your aerobic system and this is where proper base training and weight work comes into play.

Anaerobic Training

By contrast, anaerobic training refers to exercise with a much greater effort and is often synonymous with hurried, fast activity. When training anaerobically, your internal systems become somewhat out of balance as oxygen debt sets in.  As you increase the intensity of your training, breathing becomes labored.

You are taking in less oxygen, reducing the amount of “food’’ for the blood.  The heart is forced to work harder in order for you to maintain your pace and to continue to pump this blood to the muscles.  Fat no longer becomes the source of energy.  Rather, the glycogen stored in your muscles becomes the fuel.  

Unfortunately, the glycogen stored in your body get used up rather quickly. As the glycogen is burned up or used up, within your muscles, it leaves behind a byproduct in the form of lactic acid.  As the lactic acid builds up, you begin to feel its effects via that “burning” sensation in your muscles.

But anaerobic training does have its place in a successful training regimen. Adding anaerobic training to your workout in the form of quality or speed work, will help develop  your “fast twitch” muscles (fast moving) as well as help increase your aerobic capacity allowing you to run faster while remaining aerobic.

How do I incorporate aerobic and anaerobic into my training plan?

To best answer this question let us take a look at two of the leading methods of heart rate training.

Today two methods of HR training have emerged as the most widely used among athletes in training.  One is an updated version of the older 220 method and the other is Phil Maffetone’s 180 Formula.

The 220 Method

First let us begin with the older and still popular method or heart rate training sometimes referred to as the 220 method.  This method is based on your Maximum Heart Rate and at what particular percentage of this heart rate should you train. Your maximum heart rate represents the highest number of beats your heart will beat per minute when training or racing as hard and fast as you can (are you thinking anaerobic?) Therefore, the first step is to find your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).

Some programs will have you run several laps around a track at full speed, or ride a bicycle uphill (a long hill at that) to determine your Maximum Heart Rate.  And yes these do represent the most accurate means of achieving this figure, but they can also be the most detrimental causing injury to someone new to the sport. Thus, the 220 method will solve this problem by giving you a close enough reading to your maximum heart rate without the risk of injury.

Finding Your Maximum Heart Rate

By subtracting your age from 220 you arrive at a number that represents your Maximum Heart Rate. Once you determine your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), you multiply a particular percentage by that figure to reach a specific training level or zone. Refer to the formula below:

Maximum Heart Rate x  % of effort = Training Heart Rate (HR) in beats per minute

In this method, there are four levels of training and each represents a particular training zone (range). In our examples, we will use the figure 180 as the Maximum Heart Rate when determining these zones. On the following page, we will illustrate how to find these training zones.

60% to 70% of your MHR

180 x 60% = 108 beats per minute

180 x 70% = 126 beats per minute

This would represent a training range of 108-126 beats per minute. This level represents easy, relaxed training.  Ideal for long runs and long rides.

70% to 80% of your MHR

180 x 70% = 126 beats per minute

180 x 80% = 144 beats per minute

This would represent a training range of 126-144 beats per minute. This level represents your aerobic zone.

80% to 90% of your MHR

180 x 80% = 144 beats per minute

180 x 90% = 162 beats per minute

Welcome to anaerobic training!  Workouts are of a greater intensity such as interval based training. For running, this would include track workouts or fartlek runs.  For cycling, a time trial.

90% to 100% of your MHR

180 x 90% = 162 beats per minute

180 x 100% = 180 beats per minute

This is maximum output.  Usually represented by short bursts such as the end of a race.

One note: If you read and research heart rate training you will find that these percentages will vary.  For example some consider the aerobic zone between 65%-75% of your maximum heart rate. If such discrepancies leave you frustrated than stick to the middle of each zone and you should be fine.

The 180 Formula

Another method of heart rate training that has gained popularity over  the past several years is the 180-Formula introduced by Dr. Phil Maffetone.  Unlike the 220-Formula, this particular method is not based on your Maximum Heart Rate but rather your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate (MAHR).  And there is a difference.

For example, my Maximum Heart Rate on a run is about 185 beats per minute. My Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, based on the 180-Formula is 132 bpm.  Once you determine your MAHR, you must then determine your base aerobic zone. This zone will act as a base or foundation from which a more specific zone can be determined based on your current fitness level. To find your base aerobic zone, simply subtract 10 from your MAHR and the result will yield a number that represents the lower end of the zone.

For example: my MAHR based on my age of 48 years is 132 bpm or 180 – 48. This number also represents the upper end of my base aerobic zone. Now, subtract 10 from 132 and you get 122. This figure represents the lower end of the base aerobic zone. So, in this example, my base aerobic zone would be 122 – 132 beats per minute. This means if I keep my heart rate in this zone during exercise, I am maintaining an “aerobic” pace. Anything over this zone or 132, and I cross into anaerobic training. Now, let’s explore this in greater detail.

First…

Determine Your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate and Base Aerobic Zone

The first step in this process is to find your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate (MAHR) and base aerobic zone.  According to Dr. Maffetone’s formula, this figure is achieved by subtracting your age from 180.  For a 40 year old adult, the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate would be 140 or 140 beats per minute (bpm): 180 – 40. This would also mark the upper end or maximum rate of this individuals base aerobic zone.  But in order to create a “zone” we must now determine the lower end. To do so, simply subtract 10 from the MAHR and you have it! (140 – 10 = 130)

So for a 40 year old individual, the aerobic zone would be 130 -140 beats per minute (bpm)

Now, this “zone” acts as the base or foundation for determining a truer aerobic zone based on current fitness levels. Below we will look how to reach your truer aerobic zone.

Adjust your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate to your Current Fitness Level

The next step is to adjust the base aerobic zone to your present fitness level…

  1. If you are currently ill or are recovering from an illness (heart problems, operations, hospital stay etc), or are on any regular medication you will want to adjust your entire zone down 10 beats from your base figures.  For the 40 year old adult the results would be an aerobic zone of 120 – 130 bpm.
  2. If you have not exercised before; you typically exercise but are currently injured; have cut back on your training; or often suffer from colds, flu’s or allergies, adjust your aerobic zone down 5 beats from your base figures. For the 40 year old adult, this would result in an aerobic zone of 125 – 135 bpm.
  3. If you have been exercising for up to two years without any real problems; have been making progress in competition and have remained injury free, no adjustment is necessary. For the 40 year old adult, the aerobic zone would be 130 – 140 bpm.
  4. If you have been exercising for more than two years without any real problems; remained injury free, but have noticed that your progress has reached a plateau, you can adjust your figures upwards by 5 beats.  For the 40 year old adult the resulting aerobic zone would be 135 – 145 bpm.

Remember, these numbers representing your aerobic training zone with the upper or higher number of the zone being your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate, not your Maximum Heart Rate.  These numbers are also expressed in beats per minute or bpm.

Also be sure to check out our top heart rate monitors for Triathletes for the best way to track your heart rate. Good luck and train smart!

Triathlon Race Tips

For the most part, multi-sport racing, and specifically the sport of triathlon, requires a steady, consistent pace from start to finish. Multi-sport racing is a balance between energy conservation and expenditure. With the exception of draft legal events, opponent strategy and tactics are largely not a consideration, whereas individual pacing is. There are, however, instances where tactics and strategy can help you defeat an opponent in a close race.

First, you should be in contention for an age group of overall placement. Never waste time attacking an athlete that is not in your category.

Secondly, the opponent must be within your performance grasp. If your opponent is significantly ahead of you, opening up a gap, and you are topped out, then you will only waste time and energy attempting to attack. It is only ‘game on’ when you are closely matched and in competition with one another.

Recon

If you are a regular, local competitor, make a point of getting to know your competition. You will often be competing against the same people year to year especially in smaller races and older age groups. You may want to compare race times from the previous season. Try to remember what type of bike your competition rides. Do they wear a team jersey?

At the start of a race, take your starting point toward the front of the pack and observe the other racers around you. Look for the other competitors in your age category and mark them. Once the starting gun goes off, try to keep an eye on them. This can be difficult to do during the swim, but it is much easier on the bike and run. Look for them during transition. Keep track of what place you are in and how many athletes in your category are in front of you. If you believe you are first in your category, there is no need to consider attacking another athlete unless you are in overall contention. Concentrate on maintaining your fastest pace possible.

Tactics

If you find yourself within attacking distance or gaining on an opponent, take some time to observe them. Is their breathing labored or relaxed? Is their form fading and growing sloppy? Are they out of the saddle a lot on the climbs and impulsive overall? When passed, do they speed up and try to chase you? What are your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses? Consider what point of the race you are in. If it is early you have plenty of time to observe and formulate tactics. In a duathlon, it is important to consider your opponent’s first run split. If they were slower on the run but caught you on the bike, it may make sense to let them set the pace and to bide your time until the second run.

Next consider your exertion level. If you are already at or above your race pace or at your lactate threshold, forget about attacking for the most part. Once you are anaerobic you are on borrowed time and will need to slow your pace to recover. If you have considerable anaerobic endurance and repeatability, this may not be a bad tactic, but only if your opponent is topped out as well. Did you have to expend a lot of energy as you moved up or did you close the gap quickly?

Attack

Move up on your opponent within three to four bike lengths being careful not to draw a penalty. Next pick a portion of the course that favors your individual ability. If you are a climber, this of course will be a climb versus a flat section. Move up slowly within the draft envelope and take a few seconds to rest. Remember, you only have 15 seconds to pass. Now smoothly move past your opponent making it look as effortless as possible; do not sprint past them. Hold this pace and observe their reaction. The normal reaction to being passed is to give chase. If they are already topped out, they may drop their head and fall back which is a good sign. Continue to open a gap as your fitness permits.

If your opponent stays with you, slowly bring down the pace until they pass you. Again, observe how much energy they are expending. Your goal is to wear them down and changes in pace do exactly that. Repeat the process and try opening up a larger gap this time. If you can’t shake them, it may be a good idea to drop back and stay behind them. It will be easier to keep pace than make pace. A better tactic at this point would be to save as much of your energy as possible and hope to catch them on the run.

Remember to always attack where you are strong and your opponent is weak. These tactics apply to the swim and run as well as the bike. If you have a great 50-meter run kick, capitalize on this. You may be able to beat a faster athlete by out-thinking them. Once they think you are faster, it is all over; they will drop back. These subtle nuances can be the difference between finishing in the money and going home empty-handed.