You signed up for a race. Now what?

Three triathletes posing for a photo on a boardwalk.

By Coach Maria Simone

You pause for a moment as the anticipation builds. You click “register.” Just like that: your journey to race day begins!

So, um, what happens now?

This article helps you answer this question, by outlining the initial steps to your race day success.


Set Goals.

Your success begins with a vision for achievement, which includes both outcome and process goals.

Outcome goals are tied to specific result(s), such as time or placement. For example: Set a personal record or place top 3. Working toward outcomes can be motivating; however, we can’t control them since results are impacted by external variables, such as weather, an unpredictable competitive field, or mechanical difficulties.

Process goals are tied to our execution, in terms of effort, attitude, or responses to external events. As such, we have more control of these goals. Examples include: improving bike handling skills, managing open water swim anxiety, working on mental fitness, or committing to strength training. In these cases, the process makes the outcome more likely. Process goals can also improve your enjoyment by keeping your focus on the present moment and the task at hand.

Your mission:
Set 1 to 3 goals of each type. Write your goals down, and keep them visible–perhaps in several places. When you experience challenges, use these goals to keep your focus. Celebrate when you achieve the goals!

Get structured.

Peak performance requires training strategically using a periodized approach, which features focused cycles of training that build toward your A-priority event(s). These cycles may focus on variations in intensity, duration, strength or skills, based on the duration and timing of your race. Periodized training ensures you arrive on race day ready to rock.

Your mission:
Use a training plan or work with a coach to make sure your training meets your goals. You could use a stock training plan, a customized training plan (built for you), or work one to one with a coach. We outline the advantages of these approaches in the Run Tri Bike magazine.

Do the right work.

The workouts in your plan prescribe intensity and duration targets designed to effect specific adaptations for endurance, strength, speed and skills. A quality training plan also prescribes recovery.

Too often, athletes sabotage their training by failing to stick to intensity or volume targets, or not allowing for enough recovery–or both!

Your Mission:
Do the right work and stick to the plan to make performance gains, while reducing injury risk.

Maximize areas of opportunity.

We tend to emphasize what we are good at, while avoiding our weaknesses. But, your mission is to flip that approach, and make your limiters a focus. A limiter or weakness that you work on becomes an opportunity for newly found speed and strength.

Your Final Mission:

Enjoy the journey in the coming months! Embrace the challenges as opportunities to grow, and celebrate all of your successes – big and small.

This article originally appeared on Run Tri Bike Magazine. Visit their site for more great endurance sport tips!

You signed up for a race. Now what?
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