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Rookie Mistakes Triathletes Make During Training

Get more bang for your buck during your upcoming tri by addressing these rookie mistakes triathletes make during training

This year we celebrate 17 years of swim-bike-run fun at the 17th Annual Rookie Tri on May 3, 2020. We have seen just about everything you can think of in those 17 years, but we still see athletes make the same mistakes time and time again. Don’t let these mistakes get in your way of making progress on your training journey. Use this list to avoid the most common training mistakes made by triathletes to help your future race mornings go off without a hitch!

1. Selecting the Wrong Race

Go short before you go long. Your first triathlon is a learning experience, so ease yourself into the sport by completing a short distance tri like Rookie Tri. Once you’ve found your race, train for the distance you signed up for. The training leading up to the race will give you an idea of what to expect during the tri and help you determine which areas require more training.

2. Failing to Have a Training Plan

Training hard and logging those miles!

Now what? Find a training plan! We know it’s tough to find time to train for three different sports, so make it easier on yourself by finding a free online training plan. There are tons of free training plans created by professional coaches to guide you during your training. Using a training plan will ensure you divide up the training as needed to have you race-day ready.

3. Not Learning to Pace

Overexerting yourself at the start of the race will hurt you during the rest of the race. Pacing yourself throughout training is the best way to know your pace for each discipline. Practicing pacing is key to a strong finish and successful race.

4. Not Training Your Weakness

Ignoring your least favorite portion during your training will only hurt you on race day. It’s natural to avoid training your least favorite discipline and spend the majority of your time on your strongest. Improve your performance on race day by preparing for your least favorite discipline to eliminate any uncertainties you have.

Getting into bike gear in transition

Getting into gear in transition

5. Not Practicing for Transitions

Practicing transitions during training will give you the best idea of how long it takes you to execute transitions on race day. Some athletes leave their shoes clipped into their bike for a quicker transition. Practicing will help you figure out what works best for you in the least amount of time.

6. Not Knowing the Rules

Is your race wetsuit legal? Can you wear headphones? Don’t get disqualified by not knowing the basic rules of triathlon. Look over the USAT rules before starting your training so there are no surprises to throw you off your A-game on race day.

7. Not Doing an Open Water Swim Before Race Morning

Open water is vastly different than pool training. How you do on the swim sets the tone for the rest of your race. Plan some open-water swims into your training so you know exactly what to expect on race day. Go an extra step and get a group of other athletes who are training to do a mock swim with you!

Celebrating at the finish line party!

Whether you started your journey to get in shape or challenge yourself the most important thing to remember during training is to have FUN. Trust your training and enjoy the experience! This should be easy with the infectious energy the athletes bring to The Rookie Tri.

Use this as your guide leading up to your next tri to avoid these common rookie mistakes triathletes make during training. That way you can focus on having a great time and hopefully be inspired to continue your triathlon journey!

Group Riding Guidelines to Follow

Make sure you and your crew follow these group riding guidelines on your next ride

Group riding provides cyclists with many benefits: exercise, training, support from other cyclists, and safety. Whether you’re riding to lunch with co-workers or training on the Rookie Tri bike course with your crew, the following group riding guidelines will come in handy. Knowing these basic guidelines will also make the ride more enjoyable and safer for the group.

  • Wear a helmet for safety (and be a good model for children)
  • Complete a quick, pre-ride safety check
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Operate bike in such a manner as to not offend or endanger motorists, pedestrians, etc.
  • Turn on all lights on bikes
  • Wear reflective gear that makes the group more visible, even in the daytime
  • Ride single file except in areas where it is safe to ride side-by-side (three or more riders should never be next to one another)
  • When riding in a pack, look at “shoulder level” of cyclists in front of you. This allows you to see what is happening further up the road and not focus on the cyclists in front of you. Fixing your gaze on the back tire of the person in front of you doesn’t give you enough time to react should the entire group slow down.
  • It is the responsibility of the lead rider to notify the cyclist behind them of approaching issues by saying, “jogger up, cyclist up.” This includes any potential danger that may lie ahead. It is the responsibility of each cyclist to pass the caution back to the person behind them.

Important hand signals

Hand signals, instead of words, are used to warn riders of potential danger on the roadway. In a pack, oftentimes, the only cyclist who has enough visual warning is the front cyclist. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the lead rider to warn the cyclists behind them. If the lead cyclist (or the cyclist in front of you):

  • shakes their hand to the right = there’s a pothole, branch, or some obstacle to the right
  • shakes their hand to the left = there’s an obstacle to the left
  • puts hand behind their posterior = follow right behind them as there might be obstacles on both sides
  • puts right hand down with the flat of the hand facing you = lead cyclist is slowing down or coming to a stop

Avoid slowing down abruptly or making any other sudden moves. Ask experienced riders questions when you’re not sure what is occurring.

My First Triathlon – Dead Last, Still a Winner

Experiences from your first triathlon

We put out a challenge on Rookie Tri Facebook for triathletes to submit a story about their first triathlon. The goal was to show individuals thinking about completing Rookie Triathlon as their first that they can make it happen! As with anything in life, the first time you do something doesn’t normally end of perfectly. Cindy Miller shared her story and all of its ups and downs. This won’t be your exact experience. With training and determination, you will complete your first triathlon too. Remember – whether you’re first or last, you’ll still be a triathlete when you cross the finish line on Sunday, May 5th.

An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 16

by: Cindy Miller

I have completed five sprint triathlons. I am not an athlete but do like to push myself to try new things. This story is not meant to scare you, but to encourage you and give you a little chuckle. The triathlon I describe in this story is longer than the Rookie Triathlon. Anyone can do the Rookie Tri with a little effort and a lot of determination.

Preparation

My first triathlon was Spring Lake Sprint Triathlon at Aquarena Springs. I signed up and was doing it all by myself. My first bike was a hybrid road/mountain bike that I purchased from Walmart for $200 (mistake #1). I practiced my open water in Lake Austin. Most of my cycling was done on a stationary bike. I had already run several half marathons so the 5k was going to be a piece of cake. My sister was going to go with me for support and help me any way she could. I was extremely nervous and excited.

Here we go!

We arrived early to set up my transition station and I realized I could not wear my glasses in the water. I could not see to get from the transition point to the beginning of the swim. This was the first time my sister came in to save the day. She guided me to the swim start area and I was good to go. Again, excited and nervous I dove off the dock into the water and to my surprise there were several diver photographers there to startle me. I kept swimming and enjoying the fish and plant growth below me. The 500-meter swim was complete and I went to my transition point. I put on my glasses, dried off, put on my socks, shoes, my shirt, and walked my bike out of the transition.

The bike ride

Still full of excitement and a bit tired from the swim and transition, I started my 14-mile bike ride. It was lovely. Most of the other athletes were very kind as they passed me. Hearing things like, “on your left” or encouraging comments like  “keep it up!!” or “you got this!!” All was well until a police officer said, “Your back tire looks a little low.” He was correct. Being my first tri, I did not come prepared for a low tire (mistake #2) but that wasn’t going to stop me. I kept on going, dragging myself downhill. I watched a bus pass me and saw the volunteers get picked up right in front of me.

My sister was at the transition waiting for me to return with my bike and heard a volunteer say, “all the cyclists are back.” She went up to the volunteer and said, “wait, my sister is still out there.” She was nervous for me as they already started announcing the winners.

Not alone

I was still riding my bike and thought I was all alone, but I wasn’t. There were two SUVs behind me making sure I was safe. One came up to me and asked if I wanted to quit and I said “no” but I could use a pump. He hesitated because it was against the rules, but at this point, it was not about winning just about finishing. He pumped up my tire and I finished the ride.

I just had the run to go. The kind man that followed me in the SUV for the final three miles of my bike ride said that he needed to come with me for the run since there was no one else out there. He mentioned that he couldn’t run fast so we had a nice 3.1-mile jog.

Finale

My sister was now waiting for me to cross the finish line. Most of the triathletes were gone so the main volunteers asked my sister if the volunteers that were timing me could leave and she said it was fine. Knowing that my race time was not anyone’s concern at that point, just crossing the finish line.

I finally crossed the finish line with my jogging partner and my first triathlon was complete. My sister was there to congratulate me. If you haven’t guessed by now, I came in dead last. I was not defeated. My first triathlon was complete.  My sister and I laughed the whole ride home. I learned several things from that experience:

1)      My sister is wonderful

2)      No matter what I was safe

3)      Someone’s always going to be last (stick around to cheer that person on)

4)      Never give up!

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

Why You Should Wear Sunglasses When Riding Your Bike

Wearing sunglasses when riding isn’t just for looking cool

In addition to looking hip, wearing sunglasses regularly can have several benefits. This applies to running, hanging at the beach, driving a car, and especially riding your bike. If you have some sweet specs that make you look cool, all the better! We recommend the UA Igniter II Sunglasses by Under Armour. In honor of National #SunglassesDay, we take a look at why wearing shades on your bike ride will protect you and make you safer. Click To Tweet

Protection

  • Dust and debris – You will encounter visible and non-visible projectiles whether you’re riding the trails or commuting to work. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris might be the most important reason. Flying debris doesn’t care if you’re riding solo or with a group. Cars kick up rocks, bugs are everywhere, even other cyclists can kick up debris on the side of the road. Dust is everywhere. It’s often stirred up by cars, other riders, or Mother Nature. Glasses won’t protect you from all the dust, but it’ll surely help. If you wear shades when riding then you know you have to clean them after every ride.
  • UV exposure – Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun will have negative consequences on your vision. Protecting your eyes is critical to the short-term, and in this case, the long-term health of your eyes. Make sure your lenses are polarized and have a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays. Lenses also need to be a neutral color, not crazy tints and extreme colors. Your goal is to protect your eyes while replicating what your eyes see naturally.

Safety

  • Clearer view – The correct lenses will help clear your view when cycling. Cyclists have a large amount of information to process when riding. You’re watching for vehicles, intersections, signaling turns, avoiding potholes, tracking other cyclists and runners, the list goes on. Any time you can eliminate distractions you free up the ability to pay attention and process more information. Proper lenses will also help reduce the sun’s glare. Glare could shine in your eyes from street signs, windows on buildings, or the hood’s of cars. Proper fitting sunglasses will also reduce the amount of wind that hits your eyes. Wind alone can cause dryness and irritation when riding.

Next time you’re on the road, grab a pair of sunglasses for your ride. Even a cheap pair will provide protection until you can get a pair that you’ll love. Taking care of your eyes now will pay dividends down the road.

 

Rookie Triathlete: Part 6: Solo Bike Ride

My first open road solo bike ride was a windy one

Holy smokes was the wind blowing fiercely during my first open road solo bike ride. Barny, my coach, picked the windiest day for my first long bike ride! On Saturday, April 14th, I took my no-longer-brand-new-to-me bike out for my first venture onto the open road by myself. Sharing the road with vehicles without the comfort of a group ride was intimidating. Before I left the house, I made sure I had my helmet, brightly colored clothing, lights, nutrition, and hydration. Prepared for every situation was comforting. What I needed was a bubble to protect me from the 30-40 mph wind gusts.

solo bike ride

2018 Rookie Tri bike course.

In late March, I previewed the 11.2-mile Rookie Tri bike course with a group of about 60 cyclists from the Austin Triathlon Club. On my solo bike ride, the Rookie Tri bike course was sandwiched in between an out-and-back on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. The excessive wind become evident right when I started, but I wouldn’t let it deter me. I’ve ridden a couple times on the trail, but never to the end. I studied Google Maps so that I knew every turn and when the trail would end. Signage where I turned onto the Rookie Tri bike course says the trail is 7.75 miles long. But if you cross Decker Ln. you can ride another 2+ miles of trail just west of Decker Lake. If you parked at Govalle Neighborhood Park and rode the entire out and back you’d complete ~20 miles. I don’t think I got lost, but there were a couple times where I second-guessed where I was. I ended up riding 32 miles in 2:11:33.

My solo bike ride

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail is perfect for introductory bike rides. The trail is 10-feet wide in most places and only narrows on some bridges. There is an honest incline once you get towards the end of the trail, but otherwise, it’s relatively smooth. The trail follows Daffen Ln. and ends near Decker Elementary School. This is where my journey on the Rookie Tri bike course began. I’m familiar with the course, having cycled on it and run on it during the 2016 Decker Challenge. I know where the hills are, I know where the sharp turns are, I know where the shoulders disappear because of the bridges (side note: know your cycling hand signals to let others know your intentions).

solo bike ride

Know your cycling hand signals.

The wind was blowing so strong that there were times where I could barely control my wobbling bike. I managed, but at times I would have to drop a gear when cycling into the headwind. It was nice when the wind was at my back, but that wasn’t as frequent. It was normally head on or hitting me from the sides! I pushed through the inclines, tamed the wind, and eventually made it back to Decker Elementary. Boy was I happy to see that school, it meant I was at the Southern Walnut Creek Trail entrance. I popped off my bike for a few minutes and sat under a tree eating some energy beans and drinking my nuun performance.

I hopped back on my bike to complete my last real trek into the headwind. Riding alongside Daffen Ln. didn’t get any better with the wind until I crossed Johnny Morris Rd. and turned south on the trail. The wind died down a bit once I was back on the trail, but there were a few gusts that made sure I paid attention. The views along the trail are phenomenal this time of year, especially with water in Walnut Creek.

After my solo bike ride

solo bike ride

32 miles. DONE.

Aside from general soreness after my 32-mile solo bike ride, the pain I felt most was from sitting on my seat. I’ll spare you the details. Remember, I’ve never pedaled more than 18 miles. The last 6-8 miles weren’t my fastest because I was standing up at certain times, not pedaling. Thank goodness the Rookie Tri bike course is only 11.2 miles!

Want to take the same route I did but with a group? Then join the Austin Tri Club’s group ride on April 21st!

Best Places in Austin for Introductory Bike Rides

Introductory bike rides will help you become one with your bike

Introductory bike rides can help if you’re experiencing one or two of the following. The sport of triathlon is brand new to you. Running is pounding your knees and you’ve begun cycling to cross-train. Triathlon injuries took their toll years ago and you’re returning to the sport, slowly but surely. Your friends tricked you into a weekly bike ride with the promise of beer, chips, and queso after.

Whatever your reasoning, you need to become familiar with your new bike. If operating gears is new to you, using them can be tricky on your first few rides. Your bike presents a new feel, leaning into the curves, becoming comfortable with the handling, drinking your hydration, eating your nutrition.

Master these concepts on introductory bikes rides at the following Austin locations

introductory bike rides

The Veloway.

Veloway

This 3-mile looped, one-way roadway is ideal for your introductory bikes rides. The Veloway is located in southwest Austin off LaCrosse Ave. and is closed to traffic. Parking is ample. Most noteworthy, this route is strictly for cyclists and rollerbladers, no runners or walkers (watch out for the wildlife!). The roadway is bisected with a continuous white line (slower cyclists keep to the right) and everyone moves in the same clockwise manner. You can relax a little knowing you don’t have to keep an eye out for non-wheeled individuals or riders coming in your direction. There are gorgeous views, a few tight turns, and some nice straightaways. Make sure you get into the right gear for a nice climb around Mile 2! Porta-potties are available.

introductory bike rides

Southern Walnut Creek Trail.

Southern Walnut Creek Trail

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail begins at Govalle Neighborhood Park off Bolm Rd. in east Austin. It features nearly 7.5 miles of 10-foot wide concrete paths and splendid views. Like the Veloway, there is plenty of parking. Be advised, runners and walkers are allowed on the trail and traffic flows both ways. On your introductory rides, ensure the other lane is clear and yell out “on your left” if you plan to pass others. There are a few road crossings along the trail to be aware of as well. Add 11 miles and some nice climbs to your bike ride when you preview the Rookie Tri bike course! The trail rides alongside Daffan Ln. and eventually hits Decker Ln.

introductory bike rides

Brushy Creek Regional Trail.

Brushy Creek Regional Trail

Representing north Austin, the Brushy Creek Regional Trail reaches Round Rock to the east and Cedar Park to the west. Check out Stone Canyon Pool if you park to the east. Park to the west at Twin Lakes Family YMCA if you use this route for your introductory bike rides. Be aware of runners and walkers on this 6.75-mile multi-use trail that connects neighborhoods and existing parks. Traffic flows in both directions and there are multiple restrooms along the trail. Make sure the other lane is clear and yell out “on your left” if you plan to pass others.