This is for Consider's very own fundraising super star Chloe, who is busy raising funds to support Breast Cancer Now by taking part in the Blenheim Triathlon next month.
I promised to help Chloe with some tips from my own experiences in triathlon. So for her and anyone out there tempted to take on a tri here is a quick summary of the mistakes I've made - avoid these and you'll have a stand out race, and maybe want to do a second!
Once you've finished chuckling at my amateur errors, please give what you can to help Chloe smash her target:
Ten years ago, when I was trying to work out how to do my first triathlon - I was stressing about how do I swim, get dry, changed, hop on my bike, then off my bike and go for a run. No one explained that the easy way is to wear one item of clothing throughout. Don't start trying to get changed in the transition area - most importantly don't get naked! I've seen people attempt this - it's not pretty. Trisuits are worth the money and make competing so much simpler and less stressful - you swim in them, you cycle in them, you run in them. Simple.
2. Wetsuits - easy on, easy off
Maybe. Open water is amazing - nothing better than entering a beautiful reservoir or lake at the start. But remember wetsuits are easy to remove when wet, but not when dry. So once it's on you want to keep it on - go for your final loo stop before putting it on. And if you're really canny remove the top part of the wetsuit as soon as you exit the water, the water inside it makes it easier. Do the legs back in transition.
And in my case, put your wetsuit on the right way around! Not something you want to spot 2 minutes before race start like I did.
3. Dude, where's my bike?
You know what your bike looks like right!? But if you do events like the London triathlon, or Blenheim there are thousands of competitors and so thousands of bikes. And then they all look remarkably similar all of a sudden. Add to the fact that you are panting like a dog from all the effort and it's tricky to focus.
You're not meant to 'mark' your spot - so no flags or flaming torches allowed. Best tip I was given: rack your bike before the race kicks then walk the walk from swim entrance, to bike, to bike exit, to bike entrance to rack, to run exit. Engrain your route around transition, in your mind and you'll be fine.
4. Energy gels, sugary goodness. Yum!
There's so much tempting kit out there these days. And triathlon is full of it, you could spend a fortune on bikes, kit and energy food. Everyone finds something that works for them and that's important.
Here's my golden rule - don't do anything new on race day. Make sure you have swum, cycled, and run in everything a few times before race day. And this is particularly true of food & drink - make sure you have consumed it before the big day. Stomach cramps or emergency loo stops can be soul destroying in a race.
5. Who needs a plan
When you've worked hard to raise money for your chosen charity and your friends and family have assembled to cheer you on, don't let the little things trip you up. Have a checklist for race day, practice your transitions as often as you practice swimming, cycling or running.
Things that can trip you up if you let them - bumping into other swimmers, or them bumping into you. Getting a puncture on the bike (in my case 3 at one event). Developing a blister on the run. At the time these may feel like showstoppers, but overcome them and you will feel super-human as you cross the finish line.
Triathlon is an amazingly open, inclusive and varied sport. I have my best mate Stuart to thank for signing me up to my first triathlon a decade ago. I've met some amazing people from superstars to locals, off all ages in every part of the UK. This is a sport that keeps you fit, while getting you out there appreciating some of the most amazing parts of our country and it's people. What's not to love!
Phil is responsible for the overall operational and financial efficiency of Consider. Originally our Technical Director, Phil now looks after our amazing team, keeps a keen eye on our finances, and is helping develop the structure and tools we need to grow. You can read Phil's latest thinking on our blog.