An honest-to-goodness look at some of the strangest triathlon tips

By Nina Beltran | Photo by Seth Doyle/Unsplash

For this beginner’s guide, I will talk about 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.

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. During the bike or run leg, when we sweat profusely, sunblock tends to wash off with sweat, which often ends up streaming down our eyes. Wearing head sweats, caps, or head bands helps absorb 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.

Do Not Wear Underwear

Yes, you heard it right. Don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts, bib shorts, tri shorts, and 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 chafing 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.

Pee During the Race

This is debatable, although I see the logic in this advice. A veteran triathlete mentioned 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 two hours (in a standard distance) to around eight or more hours (in a full distance triathlon) of continuous hydration, I do agree that you will need to pee at some point.

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 easier to clean.
  • Sports massage is more comfortable without hair.

Another more aesthetic reason is becathatuse it looks good. Some do it with hair clippers, hair removal creams, or razors, while some are even bold enough to have a wax.

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? You can use meclizine or betahistine.

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 have an awesome and positive experience. Make it your goal to finish with a smile.