Now obviously the start of each race varies depending on which particular race we’re talking about. So I’ll do my best.
For swim / or short run into a swim start to the race: I’ve watched a lot of ‘short run into a swim’ style starts to races. One thing that has always amazed me is the large number of entrants that dilly-and-dally at the start of a race. They take a gentle stroll into the water, slowly wading out, fixing their goggles for the fourth time before slowly lurching forward into the water… For me, whether you’re looking to win the race, it’s your first race, you’re trying to beat last years time…it doesn’t matter, get into the water first. Be aggressive with your start. This is why :
* You can bust a gut to make up or put 30-40-50 seconds between you and the next swimmer. So why let that swimmer get a 10-15 second head start on you into the water?
* If you lead out you can avoid the carnage of the mid-pack start. You can then alter your swim a little later, getting into a comfortable rhythm and look to start drafting etc. Even if you’re a little slower you’ll have plenty of people passing you that you can then use to draft.
* The earlier you leave the water the better. If you have competitors/rivals that are still swimming whilst you’re running brilliant. You can run a lot faster than you can swim and you’ll start to increase the distance between you and them.
Starting in the water : have a ‘race-start plan’. Think about starting at the edge/side of the pack, start quickly to avoid the carnage in the middle, you may need to factor the conditions in…
Transitions : As boring as it is practising the old transitions it’s worth going over a couple of times. There’s nothing worse than putting in the swim of your life and then wasting 30 seconds in the transition area because you weren’t well rehearsed.
The Course : make sure you know the course. If there is a bottle neck on a narrow path at the start, for example you’ll know to start out quickly and avoid getting stuck behind someone slow. How long is the race? Is it worth taking a few seconds in transition for a drink, are you going to take energy gels with you?
Conditions : Factor in the conditions on the day. Have a think about where the wind will be blowing you during the swim, with a tail wind you may want to kick a little higher in the water and harder, if you’re swimming in the sea find out what the tide is doing, are you running off-road in muddy or wet conditions. Lots of things to consider.
Gear : fairly obvious but have tried-and -tested goggles, running shoes etc.Make sure you’ve trained using all the equipment you’ll wear during the race. It’s always worth having spare goggles on hand. Nothing worse than your goggles snapping just before the start of the race!
Common Sense : try the race course (if this is possible) before the race. If you can’t try and get hold of someone who has or have a chat with the race organisers and get plenty of info from them. Our event (the Crantock Biathlon) for example, has soft sand at the start of the run. It’s much better to run this section bare foot and then put your trainers on. Simple little pieces of information like this can save you time.
Best of luck with the coming season.