12 Tips to Make Sure You are “A” Race Ready

A group of cyclists taking a selfie on a road.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ~Benjamin Franklin


As your key “A” race of the season draws closer, are you taking all the steps – big and small – to make sure you are setting yourself up for success? While not all things can be anticipated and prepared for, there are many race day items that can be anticipated. We offer some of our top tips to get your body, mind and gear race day ready.

These tips apply primarily to when you are about 8 weeks or less out from race day, and will ensure you take the steps in daily training and during race week to be prepared for all that comes your way.

In Daily Training…

  1. Spend time at race-specific intensity. These can be done in interval durations to ensure you don’t tax yourself in a way that makes it hard to train the next day. For example, riding 112 @ IM-race intensity will require more recovery than you want. Options to adapt this and get time at race specific intensity might include:
    1. 5 x 55 minutes @ IM effort, 5 minute recoveries (plus warm up and cool down)
    2. Complete the ride as a build, with the second half done continuously @ race-specific intensity
  2. Consume your race day fueling & hydration RELIGIOUSLY. There is no other way to train your gut, and make certain your fueling & hydration plan works, then to do it EVERY training session. As temperatures, efforts, and conditions fluctuate, this gives you a good sense of how you need to adapt to different weather conditions. Your nutrition should not be a guessing game come race day.
  3. Make sure to select routes and conditions that are similar to your race. If it’s going to be hot – make sure you spend some time training heat. If you aren’t sure what your race course is like, do some research. Find elevation profiles. Look for videos or race reports that give a description of the course.
  4. Practice transitions. Even if it isn’t in your training plan, set aside some time to practice speedy transitions. In addition to this practice, every brick session should be treated as a quick change preparation for race day. Work on having no more than 5 minutes between your bikes & runs! (You should also practice a big day or two with a swim to bike transition.)
  5. Recover like a champion. Active recovery. Rest Days. Sleep. Nutrition & working fueling. Myofascial release. Repeat. Your training means nothing if you don’t recover.
  6. Practice mental visualization daily. If you’ve been to your race venue, use that in your mental visualizations. Walk yourself through the specific parts of the race. Imagine yourself – in very specific ways – rising to the challenges of the day. If you haven’t been to the race venue, take some time to research – find some videos, read some race reports. Prepare your mind for what is to come.

Gear & Maintenance

  1. img_4227-e1530221602533-600x450-1516155
    Our athletes training the Lake Placid course during our 2018 Lake Placid Training Camp.

    Cyclists & Triathletes: Get your bike race ready! After your last very long ride (and as taper begins), schedule some routine maintenance for your bike. Have your mechanic check and replace as needed:

    1. Cables
    2. Brakes
    3. Cassette & Chain (if you change one, change both!)
    4. Tires (we recommend getting new tires about 10-14 days before your A Our recommended brand: Continental GP4000–we aren’t sponsored by them. We just like them.).
  2. Run – When was the last time you changed out your sneakers? If your sneaks are ratty, then make sure to swap them out for a new pair about 3 weeks prior to the big day. This should give you enough time to break in the new pair.
  3. Swim – Goggles – do you have goggles for all sorts of sun conditions – sunny, cloudy, foggy, rainy? Make sure to get yourself some options to be prepared for open water conditions. How about your wetsuit? When was the last time you took a look at that puppy? Make sure it doesn’t have any tears, make sure it fits, etc.
  4. Test your race kit (shirt/shorts/socks/shoes, etc.) at least once – and perhaps in different conditions if your race may be likely to have variable weather conditions. Wear what you plan to wear on race day during a workout (or several) that will be somewhat similar to race day. Take note of hot spots, areas that need extra lube, etc. Make adjustments.

Race Ready Scheduling & Organization

  1. As you work into the final phase of your training, things can get hectic. Manage your time wisely – and as best you can to ensure you can get proper sleep, recovery, family time, etc.
    1. Some additional posts with tips for time management from my blog: “How can we fit it all in?” or “Just Do it.
  2. During race week, plan and schedule your time wisely to allow ample chill out time. Here’s a snap of the spreadsheet calendar I make for race week (this is from Ironman Lake Placid 2017): picture1-400x277-6990503

To make sure you have everything you need, create lists for packing your gear (I like to use triathlon.racechecklist.com). You will also want to make lists for preparing your transition bags. Here’s a snap of the list I use for my Ironman transition bags:picture2-400x157-1006424

The image above is of the bags you receive for an Ironman race. You want to make sure you are carefully organized so that your gear goes into the right bag!

Preparing for your key race should focus your attention on the two things your can control: your effort and your attitude. These tips also allow you to prepare for some things that may be out of your control, so that you can adapt your response and your attitude to events as they unfold.

While it is customary to wish athletes good luck before a race, we know that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” (~Roman philosopher Seneca). So, on your race day – make your own luck by making certain you are prepared for whatever the day brings.

12 Tips to Make Sure You are “A” Race Ready
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