Torrential rains and chilly temperatures have made many races the stuff of triathlon legend. Take, for instance, this year’s Ironman 70.3 Boise. Matty Reed (pictured above) rode the shortened 24K bike course entirely in his wetsuit due to 4.4-degree temps and rain. His decision paid off — Reed tied for first in an exciting sprint-to-the-line finish.
Below are tips for surviving and thriving in the weatherman’s worst.
First, don’t over-think the situation. The longer the race, the more people complicate things by adding moving parts to an already complex plan (you don’t need toe warmers in T1, a thermos of chicken soup in T2 and earmuffs in your special needs bag). Keep it simple and be mentally pre- pared for changing conditions.
Second, it has been scientifically proven that the fastest way around a bike course is to not crash, so racing safely should be your number one priority.
Be patient, focus on the process, adjust your time goals and prepare yourself to capitalise on the mistakes of your competition. Finally, take pride in joining the ranks of triathletes who have risen to the challenge!
Bad weather is often accompanied by cold-water swims. Consider wearing a neoprene cap or layering two standard ones. Swim booties can also be helpful. Some athletes experience dizziness in cold water, which can be avoided by wearing earplugs.
Since the bike leg will be your longest exposure to the elements, you’ll want to pay extra attention to your bike setup and handling. Inflate your tyres to 90–100 psi on wet days versus the usual 110–120 psi to give you more traction. And try to stay off road paint whenever possible. When braking, apply about 70 per cent to the front brake and 30 per cent to the back. (As you apply the brakes, your weight shifts forward, driving the front tyre into the pavement and increasing the amount of traction available for braking.) When cornering, try to separate the actions of braking and cornering by getting all of your braking done before entering the turn, then lean into the corner, with your inside pedal up and no braking applied. This will ensure you have maxi- mum traction to avoid a skid.
Store your shoes and socks in a plastic bag in transition to keep them dry. Apply Vaseline to the inside of your shoes, even if you are wearing socks, a precaution to prevent blisters. Throw on a lightweight wind jacket, which you can tie around your waist if it warms up.
Coach Rich Strauss is the co-founder of Endurance Nation (Endurancenation.us)