By Nina Beltran

More triathlon advice for beginners

For the second part of my version of a beginner’s guide, I will include some of the most useful, sometimes bizarre, but otherwise very handy advice I got when I was preparing for my first triathlon two years ago.


 Heat Training!

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#6 Use sunblock.

I gave up trying to maintain my fair and flawless complexion a long time ago. It’s better to accept early on that you will inevitably get multiple tan lines. I advocate the use of sunblock for skin cancer prevention. Triathletes are exposed to higher amounts of ultraviolet rays from the sun that are proven to be harmful for the skin (especially when we do heat training during mid-day, or between 11AM to 2PM when the sun is at its strongest). During the bike or run leg, when we sweat profusely, sunblocks tend to get washed away with sweat, which often ends up streaming down to our eyes. Wearing head sweats, caps, or head bands helps absorbs your sweat and keeps the sunblock away from your eyes.

SPF in sunscreens only measure UVB rays, the type of ultraviolet radiation that can contribute to sunburn and cause cancer. Most do not measure UVA rays, which are also damaging and dangerous. Dermatologists recommend SPF15 and SPF 30. Brands that contain higher SPF do not give much



 Triathlete’s tanline!

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#7 Do not wear underwear.

Yes, you heard it right. Don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts, bib shorts, tri shorts, even running bottoms, unless you want to end up shrieking in pain while taking a shower. But ditching your underwear might not be enough to prevent chaffing during prolonged training and racing. For added protection, try applying chamois butter, udder creams, and other forms of lubrication to prevent friction between your clothes and skin.


We don’t need underwear.

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#8 Pee during the race.

This is debatable, although I see the logic in this advice. A veteran triathlete mentioned to me that peeing at least once during the race is a sign that you are well hydrated. I am not confirming or denying that I have done such a thing, but in a period of about at least 2 hours (in a standard distance) to around 8 or more hours (in a full distance triathlon) of continuous hydration, I do agree that you will need to pee at some point.

#9 To shave or not to shave?

This, too, is controversial, especially for men. Below are the three primary reasons why a triathlete should shave their legs:

  • To reduce drag.
  • For hygienic purposes especially after a bike crash. It makes the wound is easier to clean.
  • Sports massage is more comfortable without hair.

Another, more aesthetic, reason for me is because it looks good. Some do it with hair clippers, hair removal creams, or razors, while some are even bold enough to have a wax. ms_training_rockyourfrsttri2_4
 Triathletes shave off their body hair.

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#10 Take anti-dizziness tablets.

The swim leg can cause dizziness and disorientation. Fighting against a chaotic whirlpool of splashing extremities and currents pulling you from different directions.  Despite your best efforts to stay afloat and on course by sighting the next buoy, open water swim conditions can be extremely unpredictable and it’s not uncommon for swimmers to lose their bearings. We all have felt woozy, dizzy, lightheaded, and shaky after several minutes of swimming in choppy waters. Why not take anti-vertigo/ anti-dizziness meds, which can be bought over-the-counter. You can use meclizine or betahistine. Ask your doctor about it.

There’s nothing like racing for the first time. Take advantage of these newbie tips but more importantly, try to relax during your big day and milk every moment for whatever it’s worth. You only get to do your first triathlon once in your lifetime. Rather than focusing on your overall time, aim to just have an awesome and positive experience. Make it your goal to finish with a smile. Good luck!

ms_profile_beltranNina C. Beltran is a doctor specializing in internal medicine and pulmonology. She is a key speaker on Nutrition for Endurance Athletes at the Philippine College of Physicians 2015 Annual Convention. She is also a member of the Medical Students Sports Development Committee in UERM. When out of the hospital, you’ll see her swim, bike, and run with friends. She has been into triathlons for 2 years now, and has enjoyed racing ever since.