Experience the Difference

Free Speed? Does it exist? How do I get it?

Free Speed? Does it exist, how do you get it?

Or – How can almost no extra effort result in a better time?

All of the definitions of the word ‘free’ would suggest that you have received something for no personal input.

The world I have lived in has never worked like that for me. I have always received exactly nothing for no input from myself.

Having been around triathlon for over 35 years I have seen and helped many hundreds of people prepare for their first triathlon. Invariably that first ever triathlon for each person is a very short sprint distance triathlon or even shorter.

Now a large number of those first time athletes become smitten by this sport from their very first race and the discussion about their first triathlon experience is generally reasonably predictable.

While they are always so pleased to have completed their race, they invariably make comments on how they would have improved their time if they ‘didn’t do this then’, ‘put in more effort here’, and ‘spent less time standing or dawdling’ here and there.

As we all know every triathlon has a start line and a finish line. Once you move over that start line you are IN the race and need to keep moving as quickly towards that damn finish line as you possibly can. So simple this sport.

The organising team who provide all of the infrastructure and the course for you to race each time will have the course marked out at ‘exactly’ the correct distance for your race. The lines that they took to measure the course will be the distance over that particular course.

Any deviations away from that ‘ideal’ line or any inefficiencies during your race and you just made your race longer and in so doing, slower!

The following tips will give you the best opportunity to improve your next triathlon race time at no extra cost to you… IE: Free.

Pre-Race:  Learn how to put your wetsuit on properly if a wetsuit swim. An incorrectly fitted wetsuit will hinder your swim. Make sure that there is no space between the wetsuit and your skin, especially in the armpits.

Swim:  I feel that the swim will give you the largest amount of ‘free speed’ if you practice well. Swimming in a perfectly straight line from buoy to buoy will give you a massive advantage. Don’t worry about speed. Just swim straight. I have seen many a fast pool swimmer have slower race times than others that are slower than them in a pool simply because they rely on the dark line at the bottom of the pool and the lane ropes to guide the lines they swim and not practice open water swimming and sighting.

Learn to draft efficiently either on the hip of other swimmers or their feet.

As you move to T1 those of you who are very big kickers during your swim are very likely to be slower initially as you stand because your body has been horizontal will be sending a great deal of blood to your heavily kicking legs meaning less blood flow to your head once you stand up causing head spins and dizziness. Because of this dizziness it usually takes the athlete a little longer to find their feet and be able to run into T2.

If this happens to you, gradually develop more upper body strength for your swim in order to kick less.

Learn to have your wetsuit off your upper body by the time you reach your bike.

T1: It seems logical but actually finding your bike in amongst all of the other hundreds or, sometimes, thousands of bikes is harder than it seems.

Make sure you have something in your mind that will guide you to the location of your bike.

Have your transition organised with everything laid out in the logical order that you will access everything.

Don’t bob up and down as you access items that are required for your bike leg! If you bend down, then stay down and do everything that you need to while bent over, before standing back up. Every time you bend over to pick something up and stand up takes at least 4-5 seconds. Do it 2-3 times or even more that I have seen many people do and you have just added 10+ seconds to your T1. Practice this.

Bike: Check out the position of the bike mount line and decide what gear will suit you best to start on and pre-set that gear on your bike before you rack it.

Cornering. Choosing lines. Triathletes who have come into the sport late will invariably take some time to develop their bike handling skills. Choosing the fastest possible line through each corner without braking and moving quickly back to your race tempo will take much time off your bike split. EG: if a bike course has say? 20 corners in it and you save 2 seconds each corner, you just shaved 40 seconds off your time merely by improving your bike handling skills.

Many triathlon bike courses have a turnaround cone (or multiples) somewhere in the middle of a road. With these you need to gear down as you come into the corner so you can ‘power’ out of it and return to your race tempo as quickly as possible. If you remain ‘over geared’ you will take longer to return to race tempo and so lose precious seconds again.

On your entry to T2 remove your feet from your shoes and leave them clipped on your bike (practice this on your own until you feel comfortable with this) as this will save you many more seconds as you rack your bike to put on your running shoes. As with T1 bend down just the once to save more time. You should be able to grab your hat or visor and put it on as you run from transition.

Run: Looking ahead of where you are to again choose lines that will make your run as short as possible (obviously without getting in the way of other competitors or coming off the designated run course) but cut the apex of corners where you can will make your run as efficient as is possible.

All of this requires constant practice and continual concentration throughout your race.

Andrew2

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