8 Tips to Overcome New Triathlete Race Day Nerves

You trained  for months and put in your sweat, tears and more sweat. Race day of your triathlon is finally here, but you have some concerns. Below are eight concerns I hear most often from first time triathletes, and some tips to overcome those concerns.


1. “Oh S#!1, I forgot my (insert item)”

Pack everything the night before, and double check your bag. If you wait until race morning, you will be too amped up to concentrate, and something will get left behind. Be sure to include anything you might need that day, gear, bike, nutrition, lucky socks. A transition area freak out, when you find out you left your running shoes, is no fun.

2. Always be early

Finding parking and logistics of race morning for most triathlons can be time consuming. Get there as early as possible. You will be less stressed, find a better spot on the transition rack, and have time to get ready to race. I once did not follow this advice, and arrived to the race with ten minutes to spare. I frantically set up my transition, threw on my wetsuit, and dove in for the swim. I was still stressed the entire race, and struggled mightily.

3. ” How do I set up my transition area?”

Don’t wait until race morning to figure out how to set up your transition area. A quick practice run through your set up will help out greatly on race morning. During one of your brick sessions, layout all of your gear like you would during the race. Figure out what works best for you.  For your reference here’s USAT Rules for Transition Setup. If you are unsure if you are set up correctly on race morning, just ask fellow athlete for some help.

4. “What if I take a wrong turn, and get lost?”

When possible preview the course before the race. Most courses are well marked, but it the participant’s responsibility to know the course. If packet pick up is close to the bike course, do a quick drive through. Mental note the turns, and any hills, or tricky areas.

5. “I’m freaked out about the swim”

It’s race day, you did your swim training, now it time show your skills. Familiarize yourself with the swim course, and run through the course in your mind. If you are a bit nervous that’s ok. At least 80% of the other first timers out there feel the exact same way. The ingredients of a great swim are to breath and relax. If you start to tense up , just breath and relax. If you get contacted by another athlete, just breath and relax. If anything goes wrong, just breath and relax. See the pattern here?

How to build swim confidence

6. Know your limits on the bike.

A triathlon bike course is fairly chaotic. There are riders passing and being passed, and cars whizzing by. The course could include uphills, down hills, and sharp turns to negotiate. When you add too much speed to this situation, it can be precarious. Stay within your limits in situations that require bike handling. When you get on a straight section of roads hammer away.

7. Build into the run

When you start running after the bike, it will feel slow. You might not be running slow, but the difference in your perception of speed will make it feel like you are crawling. Be mindful of your effort, and try not to start off too fast and blow up. It is a better strategy to hold back a bit and build your pace into the run.

8. Smile and enjoy the finish

You only get to finish your first triathlon once. Enjoy the heck out of it. Pat you self on the back for all of the training and hard work it took to get to the finish. Be grateful for all of the people that supported you. Just enjoy the moment, and bask in your own greatness.

If you have any others concerns, please leave a note in the comments.

Happy racing, and go and crush it.


For more new triathlete tips, check out 10 Definitive Tips for New Triathletes.


5 thoughts on “8 Tips to Overcome New Triathlete Race Day Nerves”

  1. On that part about the bike, number six, you used three words in rapid succession that have me all sorts of discombooberated… I still don’t know quite what they mean together, when used pertaining to a bicycle. They were, “too much speed”. Hmph… What is that, “too much speed”, what does that mean?



  2. I would say, make the first tri simply a training day. Pick a short event that is newbie friendly (short course, time trial swim start in a calm body of water) with no cutoff times (or, very generous). Worry about nothing except enjoying the experience. That trial run will calm all of the nerves when you show up at your next event to race…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to my1sttrirace Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s