As we head into the final weekend of the summer, I reflect back on the last several months. One of my proudest moments was completing a Sprint Triathlon with my daughter Haley. While much of the summer was focused on the actual training preparation, there were several other tips we learned along the way that we thought we would pass along.
Triathlons are complicated beasts, and the more planning and preparation you put into all aspects involved in racing, the better. Logistics such as travel, lodging, specific race logistics and your specific race plan should be attended to in a structured manner. If you don’t take care of the details, you could be left in a bit of a panic on race weekend, or worse, race morning.
Here are six tips to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
1) Determine why you are doing the race. Is this a training race to dial in strategies for an upcoming event? Is it to earmark a certain milestone in your life (last year I did a race the day before I turned a half century mark). Or are you just doing it for fun? Knowing why you are doing the race will let you set the right mindset for race weekend.
2) Have specific goals. More importantly, write these goals down! They can be subjective (finish with a smile) or time specific (surpass my time from a prior race). Whatever they are, write them down in a place you will see them. In most events, you will be wearing a time chip which will record your swim, bike, run and transition splits which is an awesome tool to measure your results to your own specific benchmarks.
3) Practice the “little” things…namely the transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. Practice will ensure they are smooth, efficient, and will also ensure that you have what you need. “Little” things can turn into big things if you don’t practice them.
4) Study the race materials. Race directors are great at putting together athlete guides, race maps and race videos. In addition, typically the day before the race when you pick up your race materials, there will be resident experts presenting on topics such as the course map and certain unique nuances of your race location. Understand your entire weekend — know when to be where, and how to get there. Have driving directions ready if the race is in an unfamiliar place.
5) Get ready in your head. One key mental strategy for race preparation is to visualize a perfect race. Do this often in the weeks leading up to your race. While we can’t control external conditions like the weather or getting a flat tire, being ready in our head for a great race goes a long way.
6) Have fun! OK, that may sound silly, but how often when completing a goal are we are asking ourselves, “why am I doing this to myself again?” It’s certainly crossed my mind a few times. If it does, the answer is that “I am doing this because this is fantastic!” It is possible to be relaxed, have fun, and push yourself to your limits. In fact, you just might go faster if you are smiling.
These are just a few of the race preparation strategies you can utilize to get ready for a great race. Stay tuned…next week I will be giving pointers on what to do and what not to do race weekend!