Podcast, Racing

Triathlon Racing: How to Maximize Your Performance | EP#6

 March 24, 2017

By  Mikael Eriksson

Triathlon Racing: How to Maximize Your Performance | EP#6

Learn how to perform on race day. Today I cover the strategies and tactics you can use to maximize your triathlon performance when it matters. From standing at the start line to crossing the finish line.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • How to create a race plan.
  • Tips for the swim start and swim leg of the triathlon.
  • Tips for the bike (many of these tips you've probably never heard before).
  • Tips for the run (and the mantra you can use to run with great form and not like a sack of potatoes).
  • Tips for T1 and T2.
  • The psychology of racing.


1. Be prepared​

01:20 -​

2. Be confident

03:15 -​

  • Confidence on the start line correlates with having a great race.
  • You've done the training, now it's just time to execute.

3. Know Your Swim Starting Position

  • Plan and find your ideal swim starting position
  • Know your swim abilities. If you're a weaker swimmer, start at the back of the field and towards the side, so you don't get caught up in the worst of the chaos.
  • If you're a strong swimmer, decide whether to start at the very front and grab the race by the horns, or towards the side to get a cleaner and clearer swim.

4. The swim

05:30 -

  • Don’t go too fast and burn out
  • Focus on sighting during swimming. Sight regularly. Follow a rhythm you've practiced in training.
  • Don’t overexert your legs by kicking too much and too strongly.

5. Keep cool at T1

07:48 -​

  • Stick to your race plan
  • Don’t be stressed out by people passing you
  • Know the rules and follow them
  • Don’t be sloppy so you won’t get penalized. Put your wetsuit in your transition box, put your helmet on, mount the bike after the mount line, and know the rules!

6. The run

09:01 -​

  • ​Unless you're going for the top spots and need to adapt to your competitors, don’t go out too hard. Find your rhythm on the bike quickly. Make sure it's sustainable. 
  • Using a power meter​ will help. You should have a target power number in mind in your race plan if you're using a power meter.
  • Crank the intensity up or down as necessary, but generally speaking, if you have been planning your race well enough you should almost never increase intensity. Especially in long-distance races this can be very dangerous.
  • Pay attention to your breathing. Use deep, belly-driven breathing to get into a rhythm and keep your heart rate in check.
  • Use positive, motivational self-talk to keep your head in the game. Come up with one or several good, positive mantras that work for you.
  • Break the monotony and keep focus by doing a body check. See if all muscle groups are relaxed. If your tensing up, your losing efficiency on the bike.
  • Switch gears and cadence to maintain sustainable power.

7. T2

14:48 -​

  • Know where to go in the transition area. Have your position in the transition zone memorized.
  • Don’t fall off your bike when dismounting!
  • Don’t be penalized for dismounting too late.
  • Only remove your helmet once your bike is on the bike rack.

8. The run

16:06 -

  • ​At start of T2, get into a running rhythm of quick cadence on light feet.
  • Think "light, fast and relaxed"​
  • Don’t tense up, clench your fists or similar. Stay relaxed in all parts of your body.
  • Do a body check as on the bike.
  • Break the run down into very small chunks and get through the next little chunk with a particular focus. E.g. "for the next 200 meters I'll really focus on my knee drive" or "I'll focus on my arm action until that road crossing".
  • ​Give it all you’ve got! The run is where you can increase the intensity if you feel you've got something a little extra in you on the day of the race. Good luck!

Links and resources

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Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode.

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