I admit the thought of practicing eating and drinking never occurred to me. Even on the hottest of days and my longest rides, those two things always kind of take care of themselves. But if you want to be a serious triathlete, pencil some time in to practice you eating and drinking because it's important. That was one of the many bits of advice area triathlete Sean Robbins had for the dozen or so people that turned out to hear him speak at Sickler's in Exeter on Monday. “You need to practice eating and drinking at regular intervals,” Robbins said. Robbins added that on longer triathlons he follows a strict schedule, taking on fluids or eating every half hour. “It's important because if you wait until you are thirsty, it's too late,” he said. “You are already behind the curve.” Robbins should know. The Back Mountain resident has been competing in triathlons for nearly 20 years and has a list of impressive results. He is a two-time winner of the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon and has competed in 13 Ironman events during his career. He said that it's not only important to know when to eat and drink, it's equally important to know what to eat and drink during an event. And what works for one triathlete won't work for all. “Find something you're comfortable with and that works for you,” Robbins advised. Sports drinks and energy gels and bars are interchangeable, and the middle of a triathlon isn't the best time to find out that one doesn't agree with you. Nutrition wasn't the only subject Robbins discussed. He talked about the importance of starting training in the winter and fall, and mapping out a schedule. Robbins follows a schedule of working out twice a day, six or seven days a week. “It takes 10-12 weeks minimum,” Robbins said of the building up a fitness base during the winter. But Robbins is a top competitor. Not everyone trying to complete a triathlon needs to follow his retinue. “Competing is a relative term,” Robbins said. “Set goals ahead of time and tailor your training base on those goals.” The same goes for race day. “Don't get caught up on what others are doing,” he said. “Know what your limitations are, know what your body is going to do and race to those conditions. “Race your own race.” Robbins had one final piece of advice for those considering their first triathlon this summer. “Don't be affraid to do it,” Robbins said. “Try it. “Most of the time I hear people say they are affraid of the swim. I just jumped in the lake for my first (triathlon). I didn't know what I was doing.” He added there is still plenty of time to get ready for the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon, scheduled for Aug. 18. Just be sure to spend some of time practicing eating and drinking. Changes for Wilkes-Barre race While Robbins was talking about what goes into to preparing for a triathlon, he also mentioned that athletes can expect a sterner test this August at the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon. Robbins said that the bike route has been changed. More hills, less time for recovery. “It's going to be more challenging, especially heading into that run,” the Back Mountain resident said. The changes weren't made to make the race more difficult, however. According to the Wilkes-Barre triathlon website, the change was made because the old course — used for more than 20 years — was becoming unsafe. Population growth on Lower Demunds Road and increased traffic from the various new industries that use PA Route 309 are to blame. Maps are available on the triathlon's website, wilkesbarretriathlon.com.