Laura Cozik, athletic director of the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, worked with a group of six newbie triathletes and CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta who are all participating in this month’s Nautica New York City Triathlon. She offers up her expertise for those new to the sport.

Laura Cozik, athletic director of the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, worked with a group of six newbie triathletes and CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta who are all participating in this month’s Nautica New York City Triathlon. She offers up her expertise for those new to the sport.

Calm Your Nerves

Coach Laura Cozik rides with Fit Nation Triathlete Anastasia Cirricione through the lava fields on Hawaii’s big island.

1.    Be as prepared as possible. More prepared = calmer.

2.    Pack your transition bag 48 hours in advance. This way you don’t have to run out at the last minute to go buy anything.

3.    Read the athlete’s guide 48 hours in advance. Then read it again. Know the details of the race.

4.    Visualize the race. Find some quiet time and lie down and visualize what the race will be like.

5.    Clean your bike. Wipe it down. Take care of it. Bond with it.

Overcome Your Fears

Coach Laura Cozik and Fit Nation Triathlete Nina Lovel high five after an open-water swim at Hapuna Beach in Hawaii.

Fear: Open-water swimming

Overcoming it: Especially for your first time, do a race with a group or a friend. For the CNN Fit Nation Six Pack, we will have everyone swimming all in one group. I’ll swim with them and Dr. Gupta will also.

Fear: Biking and swimming with a crowd

Overcoming it: Again, doing it with a friend helps. Just tell yourself “You can do it. Anyone can do it.”

Fear: Racing in heat

Overcoming it: Train in heat when you can. Get your body used to the racing conditions.

Train In Race Conditions

Know the conditions and terrain of your race. Photo: John Segesta

1.    Do several open-water swim practices.

2.    If it is a beach start, practice running into the water. If it’s a water start, practice how you’ll start in open water.

3.    Practice the swim exit. Get out of the water and run 50 yards or so.

4.    If it’s a lake swim, do open-water swimming practices in a lake…or the same if it’s an ocean swim.

5.    If you’ll be racing in a hot locale, train in heat when you can.

6.    If it’s a hilly course, make sure to get in hill training.

Be Race-Day Ready

Don't forget to enjoy the accomplishment! Photo: John Segesta

1.    Eat light the night before and the day of so you will feel light.

2.    Don’t stop training. People think they need to take these breaks on race week, but you need to keep your system tuned. Do something each day, such as two- or three-mile runs, half-mile swims and 15-mile rides.

3.    Arrive in transition when it opens. So if there are any problems, you’ll have time to fix them.

4.    Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy it. People get caught up in the racing, but it should be fun.