Race week always seems to fly in like an approaching tropical storm and go just as quickly. The next thing you know, your sipping coffee over breakfast with fellow competitors trading race day stories.
This should be a time of minimum stress but all too often we see athletes frantically running around wasting energy instead of being relaxed, calm, focussed and truly enjoying the race week experience.
Here are some tips that you can put to practice before your next Ironman or 70.3 race.
Getting there: Confirm all your travel, accommodation, transport plans around 1-2 weeks out.
The Checklist: Having a checklist and checking it twice. Get everything you need to take with you and lay it all out, tick it off the list and then cross it off the list once you have packed it. You will want to buy all of your essentials before leaving for you race destination, as they may not be available there.
Tapering: By now you are in taper mode and that means backing right off both volume and intensity. Remember you only need to slightly stimulate your race systems to keep them in fight mode for race day.
Racecourse recon: Use your race week training schedule to check out certain parts of the course. Get your swim training done early on the course so conditions will be similar. Note where the sun will be and what landmarks you can use when coming towards swim exit. When the swim buoys are in place take mental images of them. Hop in the car to see the bike course, and ride the more technical sections. If its a hilly course only ride the flatter sections, as there is not much point of tiring your legs out with hills during the final days before the race.
Schedule of events: The race organizers will have a schedule of events posted well before the race. Use this to plan your race week activities, such as training, registration, expo, race briefing, carbo night and bike check-in.
Race registration: I like to get this done on the first day. That way I can lie out all my gear bags and put the appropriate items on top of them. Again having a list for Pre swim, T1, T2, Special Needs and gear bags help this process. Remember to check this off twice and have everything packed in the bags and ready to go well in advance of bike check-in. Pre swim and special needs I have packed and ready to go the night before the race.
Food and Fluids: Eat normally up to two days out from the race. Then minimise your your fiber in the last day or two. Do not partake in the world series eating competitions athletes do in the hopes of loading their muscles… All it does it makes you feel like crap and adds weigth.
Your muscle and liver glycogen stores are now maxed so you only need to eat smaller more frequent meals and snacks, keeping sure to minimise fibre intake. You dont want any unnecessary race day pit stops! Keep hydrating well, dont over do it, but make sure that you add sodium whenever you drink.
Sleep: Its best to get to bed early and rise early, as you will have to do this on race day. Two and three nights out are the most crucial as you might find it hard to sleep on race night.
Race day logistics: Get up early and have breakfast three hours before race start. This way the food you have eaten is absorbed and emptied from your stomach. After your breakfast, only have water up to the final 15mins before race start this is so you dont get an insulin spike and subsequent low blood sugar, making you feel lethargic. Having a gel and water 15min before doesnt allow enough time for this effect to happen.
Make sure you dress appropriately to stay warm up to race start. I also like to arrive as early as possible so you can get in and out of body marking and transition before the crowds arrive. Other benefits to this are, if something goes wrong there is time to fix it calmly and the porta potty lines havent formed yet!
By being organised in the lead up to race week and race week itself, you can leverage your ability to keep your feet up, stay relaxed and happy, a sure fire recipe for a good race.
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