Helen Jenkins gives Triathlon Plus readers some top racing advice

How to warm up before a big event:

Warm-up is really important before races. Your muscles need to be warm before you start so you can get the best performance from the start. I find it key in ITU racing as the swim start is so important, you need the fast start to set yourself up for the race.

Before every race I do a short bike, usually a lap or two of our race course with a couple of pick-ups to get the legs moving. I then set up my transition area, go for a short run, maybe only ten minutes with a few strides. I feel a lot better picking up the tempo a bit during the warm up otherwise I feel lethargic.

The main part of my warm up is the swim. I’ll swim up to 1k and do some tempo swimming and a few sprints. I need to push the swim warm up so I’m ready for the start. We’re usually out of the water for 20 to 25 minutes prior to the start of the race so then I try to stay as warm as possible and keep moving

What to eat leading up to a race:

What I eat the week before a race doesn’t change a huge amount. Before a big race I am tapering, so volume of training is lower and I have more spare time, so key for me is not to eat because I am bored! I don’t want to increase my weight the week before a race, and I don’t want to deprive myself and feel hungry, so it’s finding a balance. The last couple of days before a race I make sure all my evening meals have good carbohydrates in and I’ll drink electrolyte drinks, SIS Go hydro, so I have all the essential salts I need too. And I always have some sweets or chocolate the night before a race!

5 top tip for budding triathletes

  • You have to have a good pair of shoes, I only wear ASICS. Running is weight bearing, so there is a lot more chance of injury compared with swimming and cycling so good shoes are important.
  • Choose a goal, pick the races you want to do and work towards them. It’s always a bit easier to get the training done if you have an aim.
  • Plan out the training you want to do weekly or bi-weekly, make sure it fits around your job and family commitment and you don’t do too much too quickly. A plan can really help you figure out how much training you can manage and it’s great to see the improvement you make as the weeks go on.
  • Swimming is such a technical sport so if you can find help and guidance for your swim stroke this can improve your times massively, money spent on a good swim coach will probably improve your times more than an aero helmet
  • Train in a group sometimes. Triathlon is a fun sport and doing a bit of training with other athletes can make it even more enjoyable. There is a great camaraderie in group sessions and you might push a bit harder with other people around

Advice for beginners:

Get involved by looking for local clubs (as above) and/or local races; you don’t have to start with a big race like an Ironman, pick something which suits you. Staying motivated is easier if you have a goal and something to aim for. Try not to be daunted by a triathlon, when you turn up at your first race and everyone looks like they know what they are doing it can be intimidating, but everyone has to start somewhere and focus on your race and goals and try not to be distracted. Sometimes it’s helpful to have family and friends to go with, but that can add to the stress sometimes !