Five BIG Mistakes

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Five BIG Mistakes

I’ve made a ton of them over the years. You probably have, too, mistakes of all kinds in all areas of training and racing. Though I still make rookie mistakes at times, I think I’ve reduced the total number of mistakes each season. Live and learn, right? Here are a few I witness quite regularly as I look around before, during, and after races. I’ve made each of these more than once (plus a whole bunch of others), so I’m writing with authority here. 😊
Here you go…

  1. Not Warming Up Properly or Enough
    At every race, I see tons of people milling around, talking in the transition area after all their gear is set up. Slowly strolling down to the water. Zero warm-ups of any type. Please, warm up! Move. Stretch after some light jogging. Get out of the transition area soon enough to get in the water if the race allows that and get in a couple of hundred yards. This is super important if the water is cold. To not warm up at all is a huge mistake. So, move around and do some running drills and bodyweight movements like lunges and high knees, butt kicks and skipping. Try to work up a very light sweat if possible. Your body will perform much better if you prime the pump a bit before the horn goes off.
  2. Going Out Too Fast the First 200 of the Swim
    After having the best season of my life to that point, in 2012, I rested on my laurels and didn’t do nearly enough training over the winter. In March, I found myself in Phoenix for work and borrowed a bike to jump into a short sprint tri in Tempe Town Lake. A measly 400-meter swim started things off. “I’ll blaze through this swim, toasting all these guys,” I thought. So, when the horn went off, so did I. It was a square swim course, 100 meters per side. I hit the first buoy turned right and… Could, Not, Breathe! Nothing! It was like someone put their huge hand over my mouth and nose so that I could not inhale. Panic! Suffocation! A heart rate about 432bmp! Terror!

    “Roll on to your back, kick gently and calm down,” I told myself. I rolled over, but still could not breathe. “Try sidestrokes.” I couldn’t breathe. “Try breaststrokes.” No air to suck in. All the while, swimmers were coming over the top of me and smashing into me. Somehow, I got to the halfway point – 200 meters. I was dying! I never did recover, but somehow dead-doggy paddled the last 200 meters to the shore and got out. Pre-race pride had kicked in. No self-awareness before the race. No idea of how out of shape I really was, and, most importantly and stating the obvious, I went out WAY too fast. I paid for it, too.

    It was a turning point for me. I would NEVER do that again. Now I think of that first 100-200 meters as a “warm-up” like I was just getting in the pool and starting my workout. I tell myself to start smoothly and easy. At times I’ve counted my first 150 strokes holding way back intentionally, and only after 150 strokes do I really “start” the race. You lose way more if you start too fast and crash and burn than what you lose if you take it easy at the start. Plus, you don’t freak out and panic.
  3. Pushing Gears That Are Too Hard on the Bike
    Since you have to run off the bike, it’s super important to pace that ride carefully. Particularly when it comes to inclines and hills. I often see people pushing gears way too hard as they ascend. Save your legs. Let me say that again. Save Those Legs!!!! Give the run some respect. SPIN up the hills. Use a relatively easy gear and keep your cadence high. You might lose a few seconds or a minute, but if you fry your legs on the bike, you’ll lose way more than that on the run. So, if you want to hammer, do it on the downhills and/or flats but not when climbing.
  4. Not Running the Tangents
    This mistake will not cost you minutes and maybe it’s more of a pet peeve for me, but think of a track race. The runners do what? Run in the 8th lane? No way. They want Lane 1 because no one wants to run further than they need to. That would make no sense at all. But in multisport, I see people running along with seeming no awareness that they’re adding unnecessary distance to the run leg. So many run courses have turns. Many are on a street that winds and any race on bike trails will wind left, then right, then left, etc. Take the shortest straight line from turn or curve to the next turn or curve. Of course, don’t block anyone’s route coming at you, but cut those corners whenever you can. Take the shortest route possible around the run course.
  5. Not Starting Recovery Right After the Race is Done
    Many are aware of the ideal 30 minute “window” following a race or workout when our muscles are most receptive to good nutrition. Get that in! Some good carbs and protein are essential to refuel what you’ve burned up. I like Hammer Nutrition’s “Recoverite” product because I know that everything, I need to start my recovery is contained in two scoops. Also, keep moving. Don’t cross the finish line, sit down and not move for 30 minutes. Your body might be telling you that you should, but it’s best to cool down with some gentle movement. Some races offer post-race massages. Get one. Take The Stick or a foam roller to use, not forcefully but to get that lactic acid moving and out of your system. Easy stretching is also helpful. I love the new Firefly Recovery Devices I discovered last year. I put those on immediately after the race, getting that restorative blood flow going at a much higher than normal rate. Later that day, try a nice walk. Active recovery is where it’s at!

    So, those are a few of the most common mistakes that I’ve made and perhaps you have too. Let’s not do that. Like the Business owner told all his employees as they headed into a new year, “This year, let’s make new mistakes.” Love it! Let’s do that. In 2022, let’s make new mistakes and none mentioned above.
Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
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