Seasoned vet or a triathlon neophyte we all know endurance racing is a culture all it’s own.
During my recent training workouts I have let my mind wander. I have been thinking back to what it was like when I was new to the sport of triathlon, and all the tiny little nuances that make you fall in love with the sport. Endurance racing is truly a culture all its own, for those who have no desire to put their body through a back to back event involving a swim, a bike, and a run they will never understand. For those of you just getting into the sport, if you stick with it, you will grow to love all of the little traditions that make triathlon a world all it’s own. Here I have decided to list, in no particular order, my top 10 triathlon tips for understanding endurance race culture. These are 10 triathlon tips that no one has told you before, be prepared to understand endurance race culture on a whole new level.
Never wear your race shirt before the actual event. This one is equal parts superstition and practicality. While it is not uncommon to see hundreds of people wearing the race day shirt at a running event this is not the case with triathlon. Wearing you race day shirt in the race is a dead give away that you are a newbie. Your race shirt is a testament to your accomplishment, it is to be worn proudly for the rest of the weekend, maybe even the week depending on who you are, do you want to rock a sweaty, stinky, lake water soaked, tech-T to your family BBQ? No? Then save your race shirt for the post race activities.
Never wear a race shirt for a race in which you did not participate, this goes double for big deal events like Ironman. While there is some debate over weather or not you can wear a shirt from a race you DNFed (Did Not Finish) My ruling is that you may wear said shirt under two conditions. 1. You have finished the race before or since, in which case you have completed the course and can rock that shirt proudly, even if you did not finish that year. 2. Write DNF in sharpie on your shirt, while I have read this rule on other blogs, I have never actually seen it practiced.
Rock your body marking proudly! No scrubbing or washing of your race numbers, in fact its better if you just don’t shower at all until your numbers fade away on their own. Maybe that last part isn’t true, but definitely be proud of your race numbers. I am always sure to wear shorts after body marking so everyone can ask me what the strange tattoos on my caves are. And no feeling self conscious about displaying your age, as you get older it only makes you more of a bad ass for racing triathlons!
Just pee in your wetsuit. Let’s be honest, everyone has done it, if you say you haven’t then you are a.) lying, or b.) haven’t been racing long enough. So just get over it and pee in your wetsuit, no judgment here.10 #Triathlon Tips No One Has Told You Before: Understanding Endurance Race Culture Click To Tweet
Do not judge a competitor by their size, that big guy next to you might be the best swimmer in the entire field, and that chubby chick might be an ironman who can bike for days. While triathletes are often pictured as beautifully sculpted Greek gods, the reality is triathletes come in all shapes and sizes. Especially with the increasing popularity of the sport you just can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Thou shalt encourage other athletes on the course. Ok it’s not a rule, but I think it should be. When I first started racing it was the incredible camaraderie that helped me finish my first race and fall in love with the sport. Now that I am more experienced and no longer need the mental pick me up I always try to shout words of encouragement were I can. That goes double when you see an Athena athlete, she is braver than any other triathlete out on that course to suit up in Lycra and take on a challenge no body believed she could do, “You Go Girl!”
Display your race bling proudly, weather you take home an over all win or a participation medal you accomplished something that the majority of the population never will. Be proud of that accomplishment, wear your medal to work the next day, be that girl who puts her trophy up at her desk, or create a little space in your home for all your race swag. You can check out my personal medal hanger here.
Learn some humility, sometimes we are known as being a cocky, strange bunch, but the truth is the guy who is bragging about his Kona slot in masters class got in with the lottery, while the guy who says he is not very good at swimming is a a professional triathlete (true story from my years of training.)
Don’t be afraid to look like ridiculous. Let’s be honest nobody looks cool in a tri suit with an aero helmet and compression sleeves. Triathletes have been known to lead the charge with new technology, and we are not afraid to look a little silly along the way, so just embrace it. But please, please, please, do not wear your aero helmet to a group ride with a bunch of roadies (road cyclists) just don’t.
It’s ok to ask for help, you are not the only one who can not zip up your weitsuit on your own, I have zipped up countless wetsuits for strangers. I have also had to politely tell a gentleman his wetsuit was on inside out, twice.
I hope you enjoyed my 10 triathlon tips no one has told you before. If you you need help training for your first triathlon make sure to check out my coaching page here. And remember number 10, it is ok to ask for help, we were all beginners once. coaches aren’t just for elite athletes, I am here to help you get started right and fall in love with the sport.
For my veteran athletes, what triathlon tips would you add to help new athletes understand the endurance racing culture? For my new athletes what is the strangest thing you have seen in the triathlon culture so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.