ARE YOU READY FOR RACE DAY?
Here are my Top Ten Tips for making sure you have a great racing experience, even if it’s been a while since you were on the start line!
1. Practice Transitions: If it’s been a while since you raced (or if it’s you’re first time!) take 30 minutes to run through your transitions. This includes setup and execution. For setup, make sure you have the essentials and only the essentials – you don’t want unnecessary gear cluttering your space. For execution, remember that smooth is fast – don’t focus on speed, focus on smooth execution. Rushing often results in slower times and missed gear in transition.
2. Prep for Packet Pickup: Make sure your USAT membership is up to date (unless you purchased a one day license to race), and triple check pickup times and locations. Race production companies will rarely make exceptions to the provided pickup options, so figure out well in advance how to fit it in your schedule. Remember to take your USAT card and photo ID to pickup – it’s a USAT rule!
3. Eat Smart & Hydrate: Your last big meal before the race should be around lunchtime the day before. Keep dinner the night before fairly light, and avoid extra fat and fiber. Same thing for the morning of the race – and make sure you eat things you know will digest easily. Also be sure to get plenty of fluids throughout the day before and the morning of the race so you get to the start line hydrated. Always have a plan to hydrate during your race, and for longer races (more than 1 hour) have a plan to replace carbohydrates so you don’t experience the dreaded “bonk.”
4. Pack the Night Before: Get your gear together in a transition bag or similar the night before the event (or even sooner) so you aren’t rushed and stressed the morning of the race because you’re missing a crucial piece of equipment. Playtri has some great packing lists at www.playtri.com/raceday.
5. Arrive Early: Get to the race at least 1.5 to 2 hours prior to your start time so you have plenty of time to park, find transition, get set up, use the restroom, warm up, etc. Showing up late means you risk missing out on what may be crucial parts of your race day routine.
6. Run Through T1: After you set up transition, find the entrance to transition from the swim and practice running to your bike 2-3 times from that spot. Look for landmarks near your bike (trees, streetlamps, poles, flags, etc.) that you can sight off of when looking for your spot following the swim. When you get to your bike, practice putting on any gear you need for the bike and pulling your bike down smoothly.
7. Stay Cool During the Swim: Remember, the swim is only part one of the race – there’s still a lot to do after. Stay cool and focus on form and breathing. Always remember that “form is fast” in the water!
8. Don’t Over-Bike: It’s almost always better to under-bike (go a little slower than necessary) than over-bike. Riding too hard typically leads to a blow up on the run, which is hard to recover from when you’re racing. Remember to listen to your body and keep your effort at a level that is sustainable for the distance you are riding, while also leaving you some energy for the run.
9. Run Your Own Run: Don’t be tempted to pace off other athletes who leave T2 at a fast clip that won’t be sustainable for you based on what you’ve done in training. It’s not uncommon to catch other athletes who went out too fast later on in the run. Also don’t be afraid to take a quick walk break at aid stations so you can actually get some fluid in your body.
10. Don’t Forget to Smile: Remember you paid to do this! Racing should be fun. Use this opportunity to appreciate what your body is capable of doing, even if the day is harder or slower than you expected. At the end of the day, you are healthy enough to do a triathlon, and that’s something to celebrate.
Whatever your next race is, I hope it’s a great one! At Playtri, we have lots of great programs that can help you get ready to reach your goals – check out everything we have to offer at www.playtri.com/coaching.
Coach Morgan Hoffman is the Head Coach of Playtri. She is a USA Triathlon Level II ITU/Short Course Coach, and a part of the USA Triathlon Coaching Education Team, as well as a USA Triathlon High Performance Team Coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.