Race Day Preparations

Race Day Preparations

For this post, I am joining the girls at  You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles for TriTalk Tuesdays to discuss race day preparations (yes, even though my post ends up being friday and not tuesday). 

Race Day Preparation

Race day can be somewhat of a monster, considering all the time you’ve spent in training. Many a times, I’m so lost in training that I don’t give a thought to race day. In fact, I don’t want to think about race day yet. However, when race day rolls along, I have to pull myself together. Being prepared and knowing what to do makes the whole experience much easier. I look at race prep as three parts

  1. Pre-race logistics and prep
  2. Getting to the start line on Race day
  3. Mental prep from the day you decide to race

Pre-race logistics and prep

Preparation is the key to a smooth start to race day. So many things are out of our control like the weather, other participants, … but we do whatever we can to make the start smooth. What can you do pre-race to make things easier?

Some things that I prep are common to running and triathlon races.

  • Read through your race newsletter/race guide thoroughly and plan logistics.
  • I plan my times perfectly (with +/- 10 minutes error allowed) – What time I plan to get into corral/transition, porta potty time, time to get there in my car/shuttle, time need to get ready, time to wake up…. yes, down to the littlest detail.
  • Parking – (Unless you are on a shuttle)
  • Race Morning Breakfast – Before I go to bed, I get my breakfast ready too! A lot of times its an Almond Butter Banana sandwich in a baggie that I eat on the go.
  • What will I wear – believe me, this is a very important decision for me!
  • What/where will you eat the day before? (Don’t forget to hydrate!)

So, basically – this is a dry run of race day and you should be able to breeze through on race day because you know exactly what to do. My favorite way of getting prepped for running races is to do a “Flat FauxRunner”. I lay out EVERYThing, just the way it should be. In the morning, all I need to do is slip on the clothes one by one and go! Absolutely nothing to think about.

Flat FauxRunner
Flat FauxRunner in Chicago 2011, New Orleans 2012, Chicago 2012 (L to R)

A triathlon is slightly more complicated because you actually need to carry a lot more things for each leg of the race.

  • I use the triathlon checklist to pack everything – including individual baggies for each sport.
  • Check the guide and see if you need to attend an athlete’s briefing. When Mr. FauxTriathlete did Augusta 70.3, we attended the first athlete’s briefing of the day, even before we checked in his bike. Best decision ever! The briefing is mandatory and offered only at certain times. we were able to relax in the afternoon while a lot of people were crowding in later.
  • Don’t forget to get your bike looked over – no nasty surprises on race day!
Athlete's Briefing at Augusta 70.3
Athlete’s Briefing at Augusta 70.3 – Empty seats for the first session

Race Day

Ideally, race day should be simple. This is less of logistics and more of keep calm – if you have everything ready from the pre-race prep.

Wake up, get ready, grab and go!

Again, with the triathlon, there are slightly a few more steps involved. These are what I follow for short course sprint or olympic triathlon where there is race day bike check.

  • Get to the race start with plenty of time to set up transition. Remember the “best” transition spots are grabbed my the early comers. Some (most?) races will not allow you to ride your bike outside of transition, so you will have to park and walk the bike in (unless it is a long course triathlon and /or you have to leave the bike in transition the day before)
  • Pump up your bicycle as soon as you get there.
  • Set up transition, just as you had practiced.
  • Get your body marking and race chip.
  • Warmup swim – I always do a warmup swim beforehand. Else I panic the minute I hit the water.
  • Relax until the race starts!
Relax Pre Race
Relax until the swim starts!

Mental Prep

For me, this is a huge part of race day preparations. Without proper mental prep, I tend to hyperventilate and fall apart. My best races have come when I’ve relaxed and taken things in my stride and I’ve not obsessed over the crookedly pinned bib (even though it drives me absolutely crazy!).

  • Focus on the race, but make sure to also have fun.
  • Unless you are a pro (in which case you are not going to be reading this!), no one gets paid to do it. We do races because we want to test our limits and have some fun.
  • If you have put in your training, there is nothing more you can do on race day. You just have to have faith and wait.

Do you have any other race day preparation tips? For those who have done long course triathlons, how was the bike check and everything the day before?


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