What I Learned at a Recent Triathlon Workshop

I attended my first Bushtuka workshop for women recently, and I am pleased to say I’ve acquired a variety of tips about participating in triathlon events. I wondered if I would encounter new information after completing a couple of Try a Tri’s last Summer, attending workshops at my local gym, and participating in an Ottawa Triathlon Club (OTC) workshop a year ago, and I did. Judy provided us with so much insight, practical as well as useful, that I don’t know how I will narrow it down enough to share, but here it is!

Top 5 things to note if you are entirely new to Triathlon:

  1. Everyone is better at one of the three sports and worse at another. DON’T train only for the part you are comfortable with, put the time into the one you do not enjoy. 
  2. Do BRICK workouts. It may be tough to accomplish this with the swim, but you can easily do Run/Bike workouts.
  3. OPEN WATER is harder than the pool. Therefore, you must prepare for it.
  4. Bring a pump, DO NOT over inflate your tire the day before, they may pop as a result of the temperature fluctuations.
  5. DON’T do anything for the first time on race day.

(Ahem, like try out back stroking because you saw someone else doing it and it looked way faster than your breaststroke, and then you proceed to crash into people. Not cool. Don’t do that. I might have done it once, but I know better now.)

BONUS: You can never be too early!

Tri Suit Pros & Cons:

PRO-Two piece (shorts and Jersey): it is practical during washroom breaks

CON-Two piece (shorts and Jersey): the bike Jersey will likely ride up during your bike ride, and you will get a sunburn on your lower back.

PRO-One piece means no sunburn on your lower back, and it is more comfortable when swimming.

CON-One piece also means going pee is, well, complicated.

Wet Suit Pros & Cons:

PRO-You will float.

PRO-Yucky things won’t touch you

PRO-You will be warmer

CON-You have to get it on first.

Top 5 Swim Tips:

  1. Start where you will finish ( That means if you are a slow swimmer start further back and avoid being trampled over)
  2. Stay wide at turns; DON’T hug the buoy because that is where it will be crowded with other swimmers. Not worth the distance you may save.
  3. Wear goggles under your swim cap, this helps secure them if you get knocked about a bit.
  4. Boats/Rafts are your friends. If you need a rest, you are allowed to hang on to one of them for as long as you like. (They have to make sure they don’t move you forward at all)
  5. Again, Open water is very different from the pool. Prepare by learning how to site and practice alternate breathing in case there are waves or sun in your eyes.

Top 5 Transition Tips:

  1. Put your bike where you can find it. e.g., use a landmark such as a tree or garbage can. Also, practice locating your bicycle from the point at which you enter the transition zone after your swim.
  2. Flip flops, cheap ones you do not care about, just in case there is gravel or cement between the swim location and the transition zone.
  3. Bring a unique, silly, bright coloured towel for your Transition zone to lay our your items. It is useful for drying your feet, but most importantly, it will help you find your spot when you return from your bike ride (if you thought locating your bike was tough, imagine finding your place when you are on the bike you used to identify it the first time).
  4. Take your goggles and cap off after you finish getting your wetsuit off, this way your hands stay free to tackle the task at hand.
  5. Practice.

Top 5 Biking Tips:

  1. Do a casual ride of the course in advance.
  2. You have gears on your bike, use them!
  3. Spin legs out at the end of the ride (this helps will jello legs before running)
  4. Know how to change your tire and learn how to use a Co2 pump. 
  5. Nutrition! Your bike is the most accessible place to eat.

Top 3 Run Tips:

  1. Where a hat for the sun/to catch sweat
  2. Experiment with your gear, find what works. For some people that may include arm coolers, arm warmers, leg compression socks, etc. To each his own, but find out what works for you.
  3. Speed laces (I love these! They are quick, always the right tightness, and never get undone, so I don’t have to stop in the middle of a run to tie my laces.)

Now that I have “narrowed” down what I learned at the most recent Bushtuka Triathlon 101 workshop, I hope this has provided you with at least a couple useful takeaways. I also learned a bit about Tri bikes compared to a road bike, or aero bikes and aero helmets, and how a race belt can be super handy. We even discussed some of the rules regarding drafting during the bike ride and things you should bring with you just in case. I will have to save all that for another time, or maybe I have enticed you to attend one of the workshops yourself!

Cheers and Bike Gears,



Bushtukah has many free workshops planned for the Spring. You can check them out here!