Race week! Oh my god! No need to panic if you have done the work up to now. Here is a list of things that I figured out over the many years I have raced as a professional and that may work for you as well. A lot is common sense. Keep it simple. The training is completed. You have done the hard work but it’s not over yet. You have to stay focused until race day arrives. It’s too easy to get derailed which could cost you the race of a life time. Avoid rookie mistakes. Now let’s get started.
- Don’t try anything new. Stick to what worked in the past. Bring your own food to the race if needed.
- Rest aggressively, adding every night 1-2hr extra hours makes a huge difference on race day.
- Wash your hands more frequently. Stay away from crowded places and parties if possible. Learn to say “no”.
- Invest time & money into body care, self-massage, massages, rolling on a foam roller and stretching.
- Stay off your feet as much as you can. Save your legs for race day. And avoid being exposed to the sun as well as the sun will slowly drain your energy.
- Well in advance (beginning of the week) before you leave to the race you need to test your race equipment. Make sure that everything is working perfectly. If needed put on new tires. Don’t leave it until the last minute.
- Prior to getting to the race also make sure to print out a map of where you are going to stay. Look for places where you can find to buy healthy food and eat out clean and healthily.
- Save energy and time by completing several errands in one go like doing the swim workout at a local pool, buying groceries and then collecting your race number for example. Try to start most workouts from your hotel if possible. It can save you a lot of time, time you can use and invest into maintaining a positive energy balance.
- Know the race course. Study the swim,bike and run course. It’s your responsibility. You could check out the run course during one of the pre race bike rides (that doesn’t work all time, especially if it’s a trail run). Familiarize yourself with the transition area,too. And, memorize the most crucial spots of the transition area, bike (use youtube or google earth to check out the area) and run course. Where and what does the finish area look like? Knowing the finishing stretch can sometimes make a huge difference in a tight race situation. Win or lose. You never know. Be prepared!
- Don’t think too much about the race. You have to have time where you need to relax. Of course, do the necessary training to stay race sharp both physically and mentally. I also liked to meditate, to visualize and rehearse my race strategy. Other than that do things that make you happy and relax. For example, read a book, watch an inspiring movie and hang out with your support crew, family and friends.
- Be kind to your support crew! I know that it can get very intense in the lead up to a race, especially the final 1-3 days. Athletes can be selfish. Tunnel vision mentality. But remember one thing to be nice to them because they are there to help you. I learned that being mindful is vital and a key to a more harmonized & fruitful life in general.
- If possible train on the race course. Swim on the swim course is always a great idea when it is save and permitted. Make sure to find out about it and if you can then swim at race time to observe course & water specifics such as water temperatures, currents, light conditions and water visibility.
- Check out the swim start as well as swim exit. Is it deep enough to swim all the way to the swim exit or is it too shallow? Do I have to walk the final meters or can I do dolphin jumps? Do I have to bodysurf the incoming waves? Talk to other athletes, athletes who raced there before, locals, race officials or read the race manual to learn more about finer details. Everything can help to avoid big surprises. Be organized. Better safe than sorry.
- Walk the path from the swim exit to T1. Memorize it.
Hope it helps.