Gearing up for your very first triathlon? The prospect of completing a multisport event consisting of swimming, cycling and running may seem very daunting, but with proper preparation and support, mastering this physical challenge is within reach, even for beginners. This is the view of South African professional triathlete Stuart Marais, a consistent top 10 finisher in multiple triathlon events since 2013 including the Totalsports Challenge, Xterra and Ironman 70.3 events. Most recently, Stuart finished fourth in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 held in East London in mid January.
Of Xterra offroad triathlons, Marais says: ‘I’m very passionate about them, as they offer so much to all levels of athlete. The distances are very doable and the off-road version of the triathlon adds a fun and dynamic aspect to the sport.’ The next Fedhealth Xterra event, sponsored by Fedhealth and Stillwater Sports, takes place in Grabouw in the Western Cape in mid February 2016. Participants can choose between the Full and Lite races, which each involve different distances.
If you’re training for the race – or for any other triathlon – here are Marais’ top tips to make your first triathlon experience a great one:
1. Arrive at the venue with a day or two to spare before the race, so you’re able to familiarise yourself with your surroundings. By seeing the route and venue beforehand, you’ll be in a better position to know what to expect on race day.
2. Taper. One of the key amateur mistakes is to do too much too close to race day, because this can leave you depleted of energy when it really matters. So, don’t train too hard in the final week before the race. Rather rest well, eat healthily and stay mentally positive. You’ve done all you can do – now is the time to give your body a rest!
3. Get support. If you can, connect with friends or other people who are also competing in the event, and decide to train and then do it together. Having a partner to train with can make the world of difference – and it can really keep you motivated on race day when things will inevitably get tough.
4. Plan a nutrition strategy. Make sure you’ve worked out what you’ll eat before, during and after the race. On race day, don’t try anything new that you haven’t eaten before. During the race, a simple calculation is that if you estimate you’ll race for four hours, you’ll need approximately 1g of carbohydrate per hour for every 1kg of body mass that you weigh. So, for example, if you weigh 60kg, you’ll need 60g of carbohydrates per hour. After the race, make sure you rehydrate and refuel properly so that you recover as quickly as possible.
5. Have fun! Above all, completing a triathlon is an experience that will stand out in your life – and for many people, it’s the most rewarding thing they’ll ever do. For this reason, don’t forget to be present and enjoy it while it’s happening!
Completing a triathlon is a challenge, but with these five tips, you’re five steps closer to making your ultimate fitness goal a reality. The Fedhealth Xterra event in Grabouw takes place from 19th to 21 February 2016. The Full event on Saturday 20th February involves a 1.5km swim, a 28km mountain bike race and a 12,5km trail run.
The Lite event on Sunday 21st, February involves a 400m swim, a 12.5km mountain bike and a 5km trail run. If your family is joining you, get your kids involved in the special Xterra Kids event to be held on Friday 19th February.
Photo credit: Volume Photography