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Four tri veterans dish on what they wish they’d known when they were starting out. Presenting four triathlon mistakes you should avoid.
Ready to learn more about triathlon? Check out our complete beginner’s guide.
Triathlon Mistake #1: Don’t Go Too Long Too Early
Ryan Heisler (@r_heisler)
(Age-group triathlete of 10 years)
“A lot of athletes feel the allure to do longer races as soon as they start doing triathlon. Remember that it’s supposed to be fun, so add in some variety to your racing life: sprint and Olympic races, 5Ks and 10Ks, time trials, cyclocross. Variety keeps it fun and will keep you racing longer.
“The biggest benefit is that if you build speed by racing shorter events, you can carry that over to long-distance racing, so you shouldn’t feel rushed to go long.”
Triathlon Mistake #2: Choose Quality Over Quantity
Cam Wurf (@cjwurf)
(Fifth at Kona in 2019; former Olympic rower and professional cyclist)
“Accept your life circumstance and train accordingly. Don’t try to burn the candle at both ends. You’re better off doing half of a session with good quality than double the session as a zombie.
“There are no miracles on race day. An Ironman will exploit your vulnerabilities. If you haven’t dug deep in training, you’re not going to be able to do it on race day.”
Triathlon Mistake #3: Don’t Push Through Injury
Cate Demet (@tclf68)
(Veteran age-group triathlete, coach, and personal trainer)
“I can laugh about it now, but running a marathon with plantar fasciitis was stupid. The pain always seemed to go away after about 13 miles, so I thought all I had to do was get to the halfway point and I’d be fine to finish. I ended up pulling a hamstring because my body was trying to protect my feet.
“Sometimes you think you’re invincible, especially when you’re new to the sport and think you can just keep improving every time out. If you run through an injury, you’re always going to make it worse. Listen to your body when it’s telling you something.”
Triathlon Mistake #4: Remember It’s You Vs. You
Melanie McQuaid (@melradcoaching)
(Three-time XTERRA world champ; current Ironman pro)
“When I was younger I thought that winning was just about beating my competition and not about performing at my best. The difference is subtle but it’s important. It made me exhausted, stressed, and stole the joy for me in a style of racing I loved (XTERRA).
“Ultimately, I switched to racing long course because anything less than winning wasn’t enough with the attitude I had. Now I realize that racing is about joyously performing to your potential on the day. Remember that you’re racing yourself first and the competition second.”