By: Melanie Boatswain-Watson

Although completing a triathlon has been on my bucket list for a number of years, 2016 will mark the year I’m finally taking on the challenge. From the outside looking in, a triathlon seems so complicated! So here I am, left with a host of questions and concerns (some completely rational, some not-so-much).

However, I’m not all by myself.

Over the past couple of years I’ve become part of Toronto’s incredible running community, full of multitalented folks willing to lend their expertise. One of these people is Nina Sieh (@ninasieh), who I met through the Parkdale Roadrunners. She’s a grad student and accomplished triathlete working toward elite status. She’s also competing at TTF this summer. Nina recently met with me to help calm my newbie nerves and answer my avalanche of tri-related questions. Here are some highlights of our conversation, which might be helpful for you too:

Triathlon Prep and Training

  • If this is your first triathlon, you absolutely do not need to outfit yourself with all the newest, shiniest gear. Have fun exploring the sport without breaking the bank by borrowing from friends and renting.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Then practice some more. Get in those open-water swims, run through getting out of your wetsuit, get comfy on your bike and rehearse your transitions.
  • In terms of nutrition, you know your body, so continue to do whatever works best. The weeks leading up to, and the day before the race are not the times to experiment with new foods and fuel.
  • Take advantage of the TTF Swim Course Familiarization opportunities.

Helpful Race-Day Tips & Hacks

  • For those with long hair, consider putting it in a French braid. It’s airy, out-of-the-way and fits well under a swim cap and helmet.
  • At the start, be prepared for a lot of aggressive swimmers. Don’t take it personally! If you’re concerned with how you might handle the situation, hang out in the back and let the eager beavers go first.
  • During the swim, don’t over kick! Conserve energy and use your legs mainly for body positioning.
  • Invest in no-tie elastic shoe laces to quickly and securely get into your shoes. (You can even fashion one yourself by taking the pull string and toggle out of a jacket)

After our dinner, I came to fully embrace and celebrate the road (and lake) ahead. Completing the tri is going to be victory on its own, and a feat that many dream of but never actually chase after. July 10th will be the exciting culmination of months of training, pushing my body and mind outside of their comfort zones and inevitably sacrificing aspects of my social life. July 10th will also apparently spark a new-found addiction, or so Nina warned!

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Follow Melanie during her TTF training journey:

Twitter: @ehmeelelwhy
Instagram: @melanie.bw

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