Many athletes are approaching their A races for the season. Therefore we thought it was a great time to go over some tips that we use with our athletes on what to do leading up to the race.
Days Leading up to the Race:
The nerves and jitters will be there – no matter how many times you have stood at a starting line, there will always be some pre-race nerves and they tend to run pretty high the week leading up to the race.
This is natural, what you need to do it work on channeling those nerves for the good and do not let them derail you. One way to do this is to work on a pre-performance plan – we have covered this before in a blog – check it out here:
Get your taper workouts in, spend time during these thinking about your journey thus far and how much work you have put in to get here – the race is a celebration of that hard work.
Spend some time during the week before going over your race plan – this can be as simple as thinking about your mindset on each leg of the race, or it can include metrics for pacing – one thing it should not neglect is a fueling schedule that you ideally have been practicing each and every workout for months. For Evolve athletes, they have a very specific plan written for them by their coach – this is one of the ways that we help each athlete to achieve success on race day.
Focus on getting in some high quality sleep! Eat well!
If you have a spare set of wheels (not the ones you will be racing on) it might not be a bad idea to run through some tire changes – DO NOT DO THIS ON THE WHEEL YOU PLAN TO RACE IN!
Take some time to revisit the course description – you should have done this several months out. You should know the type of swim start, the general elevation of the course, the weather for the day, and of course you should have practice for the terrain and conditions before taper week.
Make sure you have all of your gear in order – do not wait until the day before you take off to the race to go over your gear – allow yourself the time to get what you need in order. Check-it twice! Pack more than you think you will need.
Day Before the Race:
Minimize the “noise” and minimize time on your feet. The day before the race is not a day to spend sightseeing or a ton of time exploring the expo. If you have family coming to watch you race, make it clear to them that you need them to understand that the day before the race you will need to be pretty selfish with your time – maybe spend some time before the race putting together some activities that they could do on their own.
You really have three goals, check out the layout of the transition, get your gear bags (140.6) and bike checked in (140.6 & 70.3), and then get off your feet and relax. If you are racing in a place that has high water quality, then you can start your day with a short shake-out swim. We would also advise that you take your bike for a tiny spin and make sure that everything is working well.
A great activity if you are feeling antsy is to drive part or all of the bike course, this is especially important if you have never seen the course before. Remember, hills ALWAYS look worse in the car ;-)
Go over any and all gear that you need for the am – double check it, make notes to yourself so you don’t walk out the door in the am with all of your bottles in the fridge (not that we have ever done that before).
This day will be an odd combo of taking forever and flying by – before you know it you will be tucking in for the night. Do no worry about your sleep quality the night before – you will be just fine come the start of the race.
Do not try to grab 30 minutes of extra sleep – rather get to the race with 30 extra minutes.
We would also advise that you travel to the race site with someone who works like you – if you are a person who likes to have time to spare, do not drive to the race with someone who is not really worried about getting there on time. If you have family in town, have them drop you at the race site and then find parking without you.
You do not want to put yourself in a position of rushing around. There is evidence that stress raises Rate Of Perceived Exertion and we do not want for that on race day. Get there early and get set up.
Here is how we like to tackle the morning:
If you do not have your own bike pump, get right in the line to get your tires pumped (70.3 and 140.6).
Head to your bike, put your nutrition on your bike, give it the once over, set up the rest of your transition (unless this is a 140.6 - some races you can go and check gear bags one last time) – double check it.
Head to the bathroom.
Get body marked if you do not wear your own tri tats.
Put on sunblock.
Walk the transition from ALL angles – pick out land marks to use to locate your bike in the chaos (IM racers may have their bike handed to them – know your race number).
Head to the warm-up swim. We cannot stress the importance of getting in the water before the race starts. It will lead to a smoother race, and helps to mitigate the nerves. If the race does not allow for a warm-up swim we would suggest swim cords (If you have practiced them – do NOT do this for the first time on race morning) or a light jog. DO NOT SKIP THIS!
And if time allows, spend some time in quiet reflection going over in your mind your mental cues for the day.
Get to your swim corral or start with time to spare!
Take a few final moments to get the mind and body prepared – be thankful that you get to toe the line – and then let the magic of race day happen.