1 Meynell Valley Hunters (MVH) Triathlon Club A Guide for Novice Members
2 What is Triathlon? Getting started in the world of triathlon can appear to be complicated. Triathlon has come a long way since its beginnings in 1974 when a group of friends began to train together. The group consisted of swimmers, cyclists and runners, and before long they were organising competitions combining the three sports. Triathlon is an exciting multi-discipline sport involving a continuous race over various distances in the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. A standard triathlon is made up of a swim, followed by a cycle ride, followed by a run. Competitors race against the clock, which starts as they enter the swim and stops as they cross the finish line after the run. For this reason, triathlon is often reported as having a 'fourth discipline' known as the transition. The transition is the point in the race when competitors change from swimming to cycling, and from cycling to running. Race Distances Distances of individual events may vary from race to race, but there are some standard triathlon distances, quoted in terms of swim/bike/run: Sprint Olympic* Half Ironman* Ironman* Swim Bike Run 400m Pool 750m Openwater 1500m Openwater 1900m OW This can vary up to 2500m 3800m (2.4 miles) Around 20km (12 miles) 40km (25 miles) 90 km (56 miles) 180km (112 miles) 5km (3miles) 10km 21km (13.1 miles) 42.2km (26.2 miles) There are also longer distances such as double Ironman or Decaman (10 x Ironman!) Time Image 50 minutes to1h 45m 1h 45m to 4 hours 3h 30m to 7 hours WR 7h50m Allowed 17 hours *NOTE: Officially Olympic distance is called Standard distance. Ironman is a registered trademark of World Triathlon Corporation, and Half Ironman is otherwise called Middle Distance or sometimes Long Distance, although Ironman Distance races are also called Long Distance!!
3 Competitor Status Elite and Age Group The BT triathletes fall into two categories: Elite: the professional triathletes who compete at an international level Age Group: triathletes who are non-professional triathletes The age group system allows you to compete against other triathlonrace entrants of the same age (within a five year band) and sex. Triathlon and Duathlon World Championships give all triathletes the chance to enter - they have an age group category as well as an elite category. Great Britain can enter 18 women and 18 men in each age group - that's a total of nearly 300-plus competitors flying the British flag. This providesopportunity andincentive to athletes who have never considered competing at an international level. What do I Wear? A Starter Kit Guide You don't need to spend bundles of cash on all the latest tri gear. A few of the basics are all you need to get started. It couldn't be simpler... Swim Novice events tend to be pool-based although some may involve open-water swims. The type of event will affect what kit you need. A swimming hat lowers water resistance and saves you vital seconds in the water, so it definitely counts as a triathlon essential. You can pick them up for a couple of quid in any sports store and they're worth it. Goggles are a godsend when you're swimming in a pack of enthusiastic triathletes. Being able to see what's going on is the difference between getting stuck in the pack or making a breakaway lead. Freezing British open-water swims mean you can't overlook wetsuits - they're compulsory with water temperatures below 14 C. Summer is officially the tri season but a full-length wetsuit is advisable. If you wear prescription glasses, the race organiser may arrange for you to put them on a table on poolside, or will allow a race official to pass them to you as you exit the swim. If possible, put a small sticker with your race number on the side of your glasses. Straps can also be purchased which will hold your glasses firmly in place while cycling and running. Many triathletes race in contact lenses, but it's vital that you are confident that your goggles don't leak! It is also a good idea to wear clear glasses on the bike to protect your eyes from grit, flies and other debris.
4 Bike Nobody is excused from wearing a helmet, so you'll never see a triathlete riding without a lid - not even an elite triathlete. Modern helmets are reasonably priced, simple to use and they give the best protection to your most important parts. One nasty tumble is all it takes. You don't need a purpose-made tri suit to compete in, but something close-fitting and comfortable and - if you are taking part in an openwater swim - that can be worn under a wetsuit is ideal. A singlet and shorts will serve you just as well, but extra padding in the saddle area is desirable. A bike has to count as an essential piece of triathlon equipment, but until you get to a more advanced level, you don't have to worry about the quality of your bike. Drag your old one out of the shed, but be sure to give it a good service - punctures could almost certainly be the end of your race. Cycling shoes are a luxury if you're just starting out, but you definitely want shoes that are easy to get on and off during transitions. The advantage of cycling shoes is that they attach to the pedals giving you better cycling stability and power. Run Again, there is no real need for specialist running gear at first. Swim, run and bike kit can double up, just make sure that the outfit you choose to wear is comfortable, even when you've been cycling in it. Breathability is always an advantage. Shoes are the most important part of your running equipment. If your feet are well supported and comfortable, it will make your run split seem a million times easier. Check it out with a running shoe expert before you buy, as individual running styles dictate your trainer requirements. Kit Checklist Here is an essential guide to get you started. Many have a personal checklist that they have perfected over the years ask your fellow club members for advice! Pre-race:Warm clothing; water bottle for pre-race hydration; race details Swim:Swimming costume; goggles; swim hat; wetsuit (only if open water) Cycle:Your bike; cycle helmet; vest and shorts; cycle shoes or trainers; spare safety pins; puncture repair kit and pump fitted to your bike; filled drinks bottle; plastic carrier bag to put over your shoes if it's raining; talcum powder and/or grease for inside shoes (makes them easier to slide on and helps with blisters) Run:Shoes with lace locks or elastic laces
5 Races Post-race:Warm clothes; food and drink; a sense of accomplishment There are three ways to be involved in racing within the Meynell Valley Hunters Triathlon Club. 1. Club Championship nominated races 2. Regional, National and International Championships 3. Other races Club Championships Before the start of the season, the committee members of MVH decide which races around the region, UK, Europe and the world that Meynell Valley Hunters Triathlon Club should compete in. A list of all the races is usually released every spring by e mail to all members and via the club website. These races are chosen to create a bit of friendly intra-club member rivalry! Compete to be the best Meynell Valley Hunters Club member over the various categories. Each of the championship races will count towards the Club Championshipbased on points scored compared to the winner of each age-group in the race. A full list of the rules can be found on the MVH website. To count for club champs competitions you must - 1. Be a member of. 2. Have registered your club as when joining the BTF or informed them of any change from a former club to the. 3. Are registered in the race as a Meynell Valley Hunters Triathlon (MVH Tri) Club member. Regional, National and International Championships Some of the races in different distances may be a qualifier for a regional, national or international championship. When entering one of these races, members need to indicate their intention to race at the appropriate championship if qualified. It is completely up to each member to decide whether or not to partake in the championship, although doing so will not only be a major milestone in the member s triathlon achievements but a huge recognition and motivator for the club! Other races These are races around the UK, Europe and the world that the MVH will not target, however this does not mean we would prefer you not to compete in them. It is entirely your decision to take part.
6 Finding out about Races You can find out about forthcoming events from: British Triathlon Association Handbook, which you get when you join BTA The Triathlon magazine 220 available in decent newsagents Local race organiserswww.punishingevents.com, For insurance purposes, we recommend that you only enter races that are BT sanctioned meaning they have passed a Risk assessment and meet BT standards. How to enter races For most races there are no qualifying standards (except for elite or some championship races). Normally it is first come, first served, and it s advisable to enter well in advance as races have entry limits and the popular ones can fill up fast. Sometimes you can enter on the day it just depends on the policy of the race organiser, a few allow this, others strictly don t, so don t rely on this method of entry. Simply enter on-line via the organiser s website or get a Race Entry form from the organiser, send off your money, and get training! Your entry form, if it s a pool race, will include an estimate of your swim time, which will be used to calculate your start time so that you swim with people of similar speed. You must inform the Championship Administrator which races you have entered so he can keep a track of your results etc if you would like to aim for one of the Club Championship awards. If you are a BTF member, you will get a discount on entry fees. Normally you will get an information pack with course details, maps, and instructions about the race just a few days before the race many organisers do the admin on the weekend before the race. Read the pack carefully for any special instructions, and to get an idea of the course layout. Some organisers have a list of entrants on their website, plus a copy of the entry pack. Please read Club Rules before you take part in a race. You will be representing the Club in races in the UK and around the world. Wear your Club Kit with pride!
7 FAQ SWIM Where can I get specialised swimming lessons? See our Members Guide training page for details of swimming lessons.220triathlon and other triathlon magazines offer many individual swimming training camps led by experts. Where can I buy specialist swimming training equipment? (pull buoys and paddles etc) TFN, JJB or any decent sports shop should offer a range of training aids. Many tri shops also do mail order check the classified section of 220 magazine for details. Where can I do wetsuit swim practice? MVH Tri Club runs a series of open water swimming sessions at a designated venue. Please see the website and the handbook for full details & rules. There are other venues operated by local clubs. How do I get my wetsuit on and off quickly? Getting the suit on can be assisted by putting a small plastic bag over your hands and feet to help them slide through. Baby oil on your arms and legs helps the suit slide on and off without destroying the rubber of your suit. Once on don't forget to smear babyoil around the neck to prevent chaffing. To get it off while racing on leaving the water, stretch the neck and scoop some water before exiting the water (this will help loosen the vacuum seal between the inside of the suit and your skin), locate the zip cord (if it is not attached to the back of your suit it may have flipped round to the front), while running toward transition, pull back the Velcro flap with one hand while pulling down the zip. Make sure it goes fully down and lubricating it in advance can help with this. Once the zip is down pull off one shoulder and then the other, and pull the suit down to the waist. When you arrive at your transition spot, pull the suit down to your knees and stamp onthe suit to help get it to ankle level. At this point you can use your hands to ease the suit over your feet. How do I get my swimming cap on?! Many races give you a new cap to colour code the swim waves. Minimise the discomfort by stretching the cap in advance and wetting your hair to help get it on. Once you start you won't even notice! Are mask style goggles better than normal swimming goggles? The mask goggles have 2 advantages: less restricted vision and greater comfort. The former is of value particularly in a sea swim and the latter especially useful on an ironman distance. In any race you will see a majority wearing goggles. For either,
8 you might like to consider clear or yellow lenses as stronger tints make it harder to see through murky water. Should I wear my watch over or under my wetsuit? You need to wear it under your wetsuit or you won't be able to take your wetsuit off! It is easy to peel a wetsuit off over a watch though make sure you remember to start your watch or press your split button out of the water as many water proof watches cease to be waterproof if you press the buttons underwater! BIKE Where can I buy a good bike for triathlon? If you are looking for a tri specific bike then quality bike shops like TFN (Nottingham), Cadence Sport (Barton under Needwood), Sheffield Cycles (Burton), and Bridgetown Cycles (Cannock) are your main choices. All of these will offer good advice, will help you get a good fit and have a range of tri specific models to choose from. A tri specific bike will be designed for racing and will offer aerodynamic features and push you into a aerodynamic position over the tribars. Do you need a tri bike? No! Any road bike can be used for triathlon and you will see a lot more of these racked in transition than tri or time trial specific bikes. This opens up your choice markedly. Where can I buy a second hand bike? Ebay but Cycling weekly magazine is the best source of quality second hand bikes. In addition to the general condition The Triathlete s UK website also has a large classified section for all triathlon equipment. When buying second hand bikes you are not just interested in how chipped the paint might be but also what replacement parts might be imminent e.g. if the chain is worn you may find yourself with a bill to replace the chainset (rear/front cogs and chain). When you buy new you can also haggle to replace stems and saddles to ensure a good fit; having to replace these on a second hand bike may add to the hidden cost which you need to factor into your budget. How do I buy a bike that fits me? Many of the better bike shops offer a fitting service, the charge for which may be refunded after buying a bike from them. You should also ask advice from the sales assistant. If however the only get you to stand over the top tube and declare the bike "fitted" if there are a couple of inches to spare then this assistant doesn't have the knowledge to help you. You are also interested in how far forward you have to reach to hold the handlebars - too far and your neck and shoulders will suffer, too little and you will find yourself hunched and find it difficult to get into an aero position without your back hurting.
9 As a (very rough) rule of thumb, with your finger tips on the flat part of the bar, your elbow should touch the end of your saddle. If you are disproportionally sized you are going to have more trouble finding the ideal bike, but it is worth looking around and taking some advice. Some alterations can be made by moving the saddle forward and swapping the stem but try to get these changes included in the cost of the bike. If buying second hand these changes may very quickly make the purchase less of a bargain. If you are very short, the shape and size of the frame is limited by the size of the wheels so if you are struggling to find a bike that fits then consider getting one with 650 rather than 700c sized wheels which will allow a smaller frame but this option will limit your choice and push up the price. How do I set up my bike for optimum racing position? A huge topic with a range of answers as individual as you are. For starters, can you bend your body into the 'ideal' and hold it there for 40km? The one universal piece of advice is don't try anything new on race day. A tri specific bike setup will position you well over the bottom bracket in order to push you into an aerodynamic position on your aerobars and to put your body in a position where the use of your legs resembles that of the run; pushing vertically downward from the hip. The maximum power you can transfer to your pedals is supposed to be greater because it is similar to standing out of the saddle This is obviously very extreme if you never train in this position. Both from the point of view of comfort and allowing you smooth pedalling. There is a further school of thought that dictates that the more reclined position used by road racers offers a more efficient transfer of power and you will find the elite divided on how extreme the position they adopt is. Generally though, you are looking to hold a flat back position for 40km without hunching over the bars and without getting back ache. Holding this position needs both on and off the bike training. To avoid back ache, make sure the pelvis is tilted forward and angling the saddle very slightly downward may help you do this. An aero position may well bring you forward on the bike so you may also want to slide the saddle slightly forward on it's rails and this movement may also require you to raise the saddle height so that the leg at it most fully extended still has a slight bend. Your reach can be controlled by both the extension of your tri bars and by the length of your stem. Your elbows on the tribar should be just in front of your shoulders in the vertical plane. Should I wear sun glasses on the bike or is that time-wasting? No reason why putting on glasses should cost you anything more than one or two seconds. Place them opened and ready to put on beside or inside your helmet. Worth doing to avoid insects getting in your eyes, contact lenses drying out. If you are not squinting, you can keep your face and therefore your whole body more relaxed. Do I fix punctures myself?
10 Yes!You are not allowed outside assistance. Some people give up if they puncture but you can replace an inner tube within a couple of minutes with practice and that's not too much to stop me feeling competitive. Relish the rest and tell yourself how strong you will be when you set off again. I carry one spare tube, tyre levers and a compressed gas pump taped to my seat post. I prepare both tubes by removing caps and rings to save fumbling in the heat of the moment. If using a gas pump, one canister is exactly what you need to inflate the tyre to full pressure so don't hold back (check the canister though as some are bigger than others). Remember to check the tyre for glass/thorns before replacing it. Always, always check your tyre for embedded glass before starting your race and have a penknife on hand to remove it. RUN Should I wear socks on the run? Putting on socks definitely costs you time, but will you get blisters without them? Putting talcum powder in your shoes can help as can a smear of Vaseline on the soles of your feet, top of your toes and this will be quicker than putting on socks. If you change shoes between bike and run it is better to put your socks on after the bike when your feet will have dried making socks easier to put on. Don't wait for race day to find out what works TRAINING - GENERAL What are good books on how to train for new triathletes? Triathletes of all experience and abilities have a copy of "The triathletes training bible" by Joe Friel somewhere in their book case. Somewhere in this book there are answers to all the questions on this page and more. NUTRITION How much should I drink and when should I eat during the race? This is such a personal thing that any advice can only be generalised but above all, find out what works in advance, make your plan and stick to it. Once you are racing it is easy to forget to drink and eat but in a couple of hours of racing possibly having sweated in a wet suit, you definitely need to drink. On the bike you have plenty of time to drink and eat, make sure you use it. My standard distance plan involves drinking in the half hour before the start. Once on the bike I eat a gel and start drinking while I spin to get my legs into cycling shape. About 20 minutes before the end of the bike I eat another gel and by the end of the bike I will have put away 750ml to 1litre of isotonic energy drink. Gels are easier to digest and sit less heavily in the stomach than bars but they do take a bit of getting used to and you must drink after eating them. Drinks
11 points should be provided in transition and on the run but find out where they are before starting. OTHER How hard should you give of yourmax on the first 2 events? How much energy should you save for the run? Because different muscle groups are used for the three events, you can afford to race each part harder than if the whole race was any single discipline, however an accurate answer to this question depends on how well trained you are and how you define "of your max". For example, the elite are only running very slightly slower than a straight 10km race but are you well enough trained on the bike to have it cause minimal fatigue for the run? The majority of your standard distance race will be hovering around your lactate threshold so knock a couple of beats off the average heart rate you have when racing a 10km and that will be about right but only testing can tell you what the corresponding heart rate for this is for each different discipline. Is buying an expensive heart rate monitor and paying for testing the only way to tell? No, experience tells me that I can afford to go flat out on the bike as long as it's not too hilly and I ease upslightly towards the end to bring my heart rate down before starting the run. I know that the run feels awkward at the start but I also know that despite this I am still running faster than it feels and as long as I can control my breathing, I am not going too fast. This is what tri racing is all about - by all means get scientific about it but there is no substitute for experience and mental preparation. If you are interested in lactate and max power testing Brian Welsh can advise you. How do I avoid chaffing when cycling and running in wet kit? You can't use Vaseline because petroleum based lubricants will rot your wetsuit or the rubber grips on the legs of your cycling shorts. KY jelly or baby oil are better alternatives. A blob of lubricant under the saddle of your bike makes a good emergency supply. On nipples you can use micropore tape (from chemists) which will not come off in the water. Don't forget that you can get chaffing around the neck of your wet suit. People variously swear by baby oil, ky jelly or cocoa butter. What suntan cream can I use that won't perish my wetsuit? 'Ironman' sun block comes in 44 Factor and is waterproof, sweat proof & lasts 8 hours. Can I wear contact lenses? Yes, but you need to make sure your goggles fit well and wear cycling glasses to prevent them drying out on the bike. A mistake that people make is assuming that goggles last forever, in reality they will have a lifetime of a year before the seals
12 become less flexible, comfortable and leak proof. If your goggles leak or are knocked off during the swim you should swim out to the side before adjusting or you may find you are hit from behind.