TIPS & TIDBITS
Most athletes experience some doubts during race week, this is normal. Make a list of issues you’re concerned about, beside each issue write out a strategy for dealing with it. Think back and recall all the hard work and preparation you’ve done. By suffering in your training, you’re going to be better prepared for race day. Accomplishing a rigorous training program should give you confidence and make you excited for race day!
Enjoy your taper, you’ve earned it! Don’t make the mistake of getting in another long workout, once you’re in the taper phase, you are resting and recovering. The only thing last minute workouts will do for you is bring you to the race weak and tired.
Make sure you have your bike tuned up and put new tires and tubes on it. You didn’t spend all that money on an entry fee and all that training time just to have your race fall apart due to a mechanical issue that could easily be taken care of before the race. The best time to do this is the last 2 weeks before the race, you want to have a couple of rides to make sure all is well with your bike. Make sure you check those cleats too!
Go to the race check-in early and then go home. Don’t stand around in the sun any longer than you need to…remember rest & recovery. You may not be able to sleep the night before the race, don’t worry that’s normal. Taking a sleeping aid early the night before the race so you’re not “clock watching” is a good idea. If you’re worried about being groggy because of taking them, make sure to be in bed at least 7 hours before you have to be up to ensure you get 6 hours of sleep.
Make sure you go over your pre-race checklist and pack the night before so that nothing is forgotten. If you don’t have a written checklist, consider it—it alleviates a lot of stress to know that you’ve checked each item off before a race. Make sure you include the things you want after the race (change of clothes, favorite snack…). If you are flying to the race, make sure you have all of your race gear (helmet, shoes, tri-suit, etc…) in your carry-on, you don’t want the chance of lost luggage to ruin your race. Practice in training with all your gear. Don’t wear new clothes!! Don’t use anything on race day that you haven’t used in training. Big mistake
Have a relaxation technique to calm the nerves. This can be deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, whatever works for you. A little bit of nerves are normal J
Have a pre-race dinner that you know through training works for you and get to bed early. Eat your breakfast on race day 2-3 hrs before the start, again what you’ve practiced with during training. Nothing but water until 10-15 minutes before the start and then you can take a sports drink, gel or whatever you’ve trained with 100 calories or so.
Make sure you know where you’re bike is racked relative to coming in from the swim and bike finishes. Consider using a colorful towel, balloon or chalk markings to help you find your spot. Make sure your bike is in the correct gear for leaving the transition area. Make sure you have bar end caps—you can be DQ’d for not having them. Make sure you’re riding on the correct tire pressure and the seat height hasn’t been bumped during the car ride to the race. Ride your bike a short distance before racking it, just to make sure that the computer is working and it’s in the right gear, things can get bumped loading in & out of the car. I always put my race chip on my left ankle, just to keep it away from the bike chain rings.
During the race, concentrate only on where you are, not what’s coming up. Break the race into small segments, nail that segment and then take up the next one and repeat.
If you usually do a warm up during training, don’t neglect that on race day. Getting in the water a little early to warm up is a good idea. Don’t go out on the swim too hard, find a steady pace, the race isn’t won on the swim. If you have to walk on sharp rocks to get to the swim start think about using a cheap pair of throw away flip flops or a really thick pair of socks to save your feet—you don’t have to worry about getting them back and you’re feet won’t be cut up. Bring both light and dark goggles to races, based on the weather you can choose the most suitable ones. Start thinking about the transition as you’re leaving the water, go over mentally what you need to do and in what order. Don’t rush, have a plan.
Don’t ride too hard on the bike, you still have a run to do! Don’t dig yourself into an energy-deficit hole and risk your entire race. Stick with your plan, know where you need to be either heart rate or pace wise and don’t let the excitement of the race push you into a pace you haven’t trained for.
Plan when & what you are going to be doing nutritionally on the bike & run. When you first get on the bike, don’t drink anything until after 10-15 minutes, then only water. Your body is not ready to handle calories so soon after being prone, wait until after 20-30 min for calories. You should be taking in calories every 15-20 minutes. Minimally 200/hr on the bike and about 100 on the run. If you can “stomach” more, try to work up to 300-500 on the bike and 200-300 on the run—practice in your training workouts NOT RACE DAY!!! Fluids are absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than solids, try to get as much of your nutrition as possible from fluids throughout the bike leg. This will minimize your chances of getting bloated after the bike-run transition and will also maximize the rate of nutrient delivery to your muscles throughout the bike leg itself. You should reduce your rate of nutrition intake about 30 minutes before getting off the bike to allow your stomach volume to come down to a level that is manageable for the run. Gel with water or a couple of sips of a sports drink with 30 minutes to go and another drink with 15 min to go and that’s all. You not only can’t consume as much nutrition on the run as the bike but you also can’t tolerate as much in your stomach so stocking up before the run is a recipe for a stomach problem. If you experience stomach distress you need to go with fewer calories, if you have no GI symptoms but suffer an energy bonk you need to add a little more nutrition. During the race the only solution once you have stomach issues is to SLOW down. Don’t change anything from what you’ve practiced in training!
After the race make sure you take in some nutrition within the first 20-30 minutes. This is the time your muscles can absorb the most nutrients, don’t miss this window. It will help you recover quicker from racing.