Each year, F.I.R.M. helps tens of thousands of people earn the title of “triathlete”, "duathlete" and "finisher". Your first triathlon is a very special occasion, and we are here to help guide you through the process.
Choosing a race: First of all, carefully choosing your inaugural race is paramount. You may want to base your decision on location, race distance, race course (hilly or flat), swim course (pool, lake, ocean), time of year, charitable connection, or special designation such as “all women”. It may just happen to be the race that your buddy has chosen to do, but there are many options to choose from when picking a race to compete in. Once you have decided on a race, register for it! This commitment is essential for moving you towards your goal.
Training for your race: Next, think about how you plan to prepare for the race. It is true that almost any healthy person who knows how to swim, bike, and run can complete a sprint distance triathlon, but it does require proper physical conditioning. The better prepared you are for the event, the more you will enjoy the experience.
There are some very good informational books on the market for those who are interested in researching and learning how to train for a triathlon for themselves. Triathlon 101, 2nd Edition by John Mora provides clear, concise and practical information for getting ready for a triathlon. The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, on the other hand, is a very popular book for people who want extreme details and technical information regarding triathlon training. Both of these books can be purchased on Amazon by clicking the book title, and they are both eligible for Amazon Prime Free Two-Day Shipping.
In addition, check out the coaching services, seminars, and clinics offered by Vmps, the official coaching service of F.I.R.M. They offer group training programs for beginners, swim programs including open water swim clinics, informational seminars, and personal coaching. Contact them on their website, www.mpstraining.com.
Getting the necessary equipment: Once you figure out how you are going to approach your training, it’s important to focus on your equipment needs. The basics are a swimsuit, goggles, a place to swim, a bicycle helmet, a bicycle that fits you well and is in good working order, running shorts and running shoes with less than 300 miles of wear on them. If the water is going to be cold, add a wetsuit or a wetsuit rental to that list. Vmps can help with both wetsuit purchases and rentals.
Preparing to race: As race day approaches, carefully review both the pre-race E-Mail blast (usually send Thursday before race day) as well as your athlete information packet, which can be picked up either the day before race day or on race morning. These include lots of important information, such as directions, check in times, course maps and important announcements. Also review USA Triathlon multi-sport rules and regulations, which can be found here: www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/About/Multisport/Competitive-Rules. Some of the most common rules violations are as follows:
Helmet Violations: Helmets must be worn at all times on the bike course, and chin straps must be fastened. If you do not have a bike helmet or your bike helmet is not in working condition, see F.I.R.M. race staff immediately.
Drafting: All participants must keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front on the bike course. If you move into the draft zone, you must pass within 15 seconds.
Transition Area: All equipment must be placed in the properly designated and individually assigned bike corral. The wheel of the bicycle must be down on the side of the assigned space. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle corral. No person shall interfere with another participant’s equipment or impede the progress of another participant. No participant shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area. Participants must use extreme caution and slow movement upon entering and exiting the transition area.
Course: All participants are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Foul, harsh, argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers, spectators or fellow participants is forbidden.
Headphones: Headphones, Headsets, Walkmans, MP3 Players, iPods, iPhones, Other Cellular Telephones or any other personal audio devices used for the purpose of playing music directly in one's ear are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.
Race numbers/Timing Chips: All participants are required to wear their timing chip throughout the duration of the event. All participants must attach their provided paper number to their bicycle and ensure it is visible at all times during the bike course. All participants are required to wear race bib numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number/timing chip to any other participants or take a number/timing chip from a participant that is not competing.
Wetsuits: Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wears a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited. Temperature readings will be taken race morning and wetsuit decisions will be made based on this reading, no exceptions.
When race day arrives, arrive early, proceed directly to the registration tent to pick up your athlete information packet, and follow these nine steps to ensure your race goes smoothly: