Want a PB to go alongside the date change this New Year? Surrey Tri coaches Jolene Bull and Jonathan Wilden explain how.

Each year triathletes across the country use the New Year as a fresh start and to perform better than they did last season. All sorts of issues can crop up in races, which not only slow you down, but also make your triathlons less enjoyable.

Here’s how to fix the little things, so you can focus on your technique, pacing and race plan:

Swim:

Events normally provide their own swimming hats to identify waves of swimmers, so use this over the top of your own with a set of goggles in between. This will fix them in place more securely and stop them being knocked off.

Practise sighting. This will allow you to “see” the guide buoy in open water so you don’t end up adding extra distance by going off-course. In training, practise head-up front crawl for a length at a time, maintaining your focus on a point in front of you. This will strengthen your neck muscles, so quick glances in time with your breathing are easier to perform in a race.

Get warmed up. Getting in the water before the race isn’t always the first thing on triathlete’s mind, but it should be. If you can, have a 10-minute gentle swim beforehand to acclimatise, so you feel ready to go when your wave goes off.

SurreyTri Photograph: Rosie Hallam

Bike

Tape a gel or some jelly sweets to your frame. As a reward or little sugar hit to maintain your energy, consume them as soon as you’ve left T1 and you’re on your way. This will focus you on the next stage of the race.

Get out the saddle. Once in a while, ideally on a rise, climb out of the saddle for a few seconds. This will ease any pressure on your back and give your bottom a break from any chafing or rubbing caused by a wet tri suit.

Lapped circuits can be confusing as it’s easy to lose count and get disorientated. To combat this, stick pieces of tape (or energy gels in long distance triathlons) to the frame of your bike; tear off one for each lap you complete.

Run

Powder your running shoes. Once you’re off the bike, you might still have damp feet, which make blisters more likely. Adding talc to your shoes will absorb the moisture and reduce the chance of this happening.

Don’t go out too hard. Your legs need time to acclimatise to the high impact nature of running, so build your pace gradually over the first few minutes so you don’t hit an oxygen debt that you’ll struggle to recover from.

Run your own race. It’s easy to get swept along with other, stronger runners – but you should focus on your own race. Stay disciplined, and be sure to focus on your own pacing.

Fly through transition

It’s not called the fourth discipline for nothing.

Memorise a routine for T1 and T2 to ensure a smooth transition. Bring some kit poolside, then in the middle of a swim set climb out and simulate T1 as fast as possible. Do the same when you get in from a bike ride.

You’ll soon realise how to organise your kit for the quickest time.