— By Stepfanie Johnston
When I was asked to write this article, I thought sure no problem! Then I took a minute and thought, what are my top three items that I always bring with me? I started to go over my checklist in my head. Wetsuit, goggles, earplugs, bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, etc., etc. If you’re going to do triathlon, you’re going to need to get used to having a huge list of things to bring. How could I just pick three items, when everything seemed equally important. This was going to be a little bit more difficult than I thought…
I’ve been doing triathlon since 2015. I guess I could still be considered somewhat of a beginner that’s typically in the middle of the pack. I am continually learning how to best streamline my transitions. In the process, I try to make packing easier, which helps reduce my race day anxiety levels. Reducing race day anxiety can lead to better race day performance! I’ve been fortunate enough to do seven long distance triathlons (this year’sBarrelman will make it 8). Living in a small northern town and having to travel to races makes me feel like I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t stress too much over what I’m packing because it just seems natural to me now. At first when I started I would bring everything I owned, or thought I would need because I was still trying to figure everything out.
Over the years I’ve met some really amazing people who’ve shared little tips and tricks with me that I’d like to share with you all! The first person that I met when I moved up north graciously took me under her wing and helped me to feel comfortable in the sport (thanks Amanda!). I remember she helped me with my first triathlon and also gave me some pointers on the swim. She also let me borrow her husband’s wet suit because I didn’t have one at the time. Her tip to me was to bring a garbage bag to put my wet suit in after the race so it doesn’t get my bag all wet. This tip also came in useful this year when I was participating in the Toronto Triathlon Festival and it was raining all day. I used that bag to drape over my items in transition and keep my shoes and other items dry.
Now that I’m on the topic of keeping things dry, the second item that I always bring with me are extra socks. When I’m participating in a longer triathlon like Barrelman, I like to change my socks after the bike, it’s more comfortable and it makes me feel refreshed. I also feel like socks are the things that people always forget. Multiple times I’ve had people in transition morning of the race looking for socks. I always pack my good swiftwick socks and a pair of older socks. Just in casesomeone forgets theirs and I have to lend them out. I’m not sure that I would actually want them back. Paying it forward to a fellow athlete, and putting good karma out there is always agreat idea!
My third item that I always bring with me is part of my nutrition. I always bring Nuun tablets to add to my water and either SaltStick or BASE salt to ingest on the bike and run portion. I think that replacing electrolytes is so important, especially when you’re doing longer distance triathlons. At baseline, I suffer from gastro intestinal problems, so I find that these 3 items are not as hard on my stomach as other electrolyte drinks that are available. Replacing salts and electrolytes are key during races to fight off muscle fatigue and dehydration. I’m not an expert, but these salt and electrolyte replacements seem to work for me and my sensitive gut. I would recommend doing some research and trying out a few things during training to make sure getting your nutrition right.
Everything seems to be important when thinking about triathlon and what to bring, but as for me. These are the things that make my race better and more enjoyable overall. I’m sure that what I think is important is different from a lot of people out there. I would love to hear what your top 3 items to bring to race weekend are!