Tips for Success
1) Most people struggle with the swim the most, so Cardona recommends signing up for lessons in order to become a more efficient swimmer. You can even get someone to take a video of your stroke from underwater so you can see what you need to improve technique-wise. The better you glide through the water, the more energy you’ll save for the other two events.
2) Start your swim training in a pool. After about a month, you can head to open water. “It’s important to get acclimated and feel comfortable,” says Cardona. “Otherwise your heart rate will go up, you’ll panic, and you won’t perform as well.” The first time you head out, stay in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time and be sure to swim along the shore in case you become fatigued.
3) Practice hydrating and eating on the bike. You need to train the way you race, and that means taking in some kind of nutrition every 30 minutes—and there are no picnic tables on the trail. Whether it’s gels, bars, or sports drinks, find what works for you and get in the habit of consuming it in motion without missing a beat.
4) The biggest challenge when it comes to the final leg of the race is learning to run off the bike. “Your legs will be kind of numb and wobbly,” Cardona says. He recommends starting off easy. Keep your heart rate low and slowly pick up the pace. It’s also good to check out the course beforehand and look at the terrain. Is it hilly or flat? Find similar surfaces to train on.