“Don’t Forget To _______”
In the next couple of weeks and continuing on over the next few months, many of us will be racking our bikes and setting up our transition areas. We’ll not have to squeeze our bikes in between one a few inches to the left and one a few inches to the right. When we head down to the lake, we’ll not have to worry about getting kicked in the face during the mass swim start.
A lot will be different, that’s for sure. But, the majority of the experience will be the same. A swim, then a bike and then a run. Social distanced? Yes, for sure. And don’t expect to stand close to others on the podium as there will not be awards ceremonies as we’ve known them. But, we’ll splash through the H2O, power our bikes down the road and pound the pavement for a few miles.
With the changes we’ll experience, it will be easy to forget some of the basic “musts” when it comes to race day. Easy to get distracted. So, here are a few reminders to keep in the front of your cranium when race weekend arrives.
- PLAN AHEAD. Get all your gear laid out ahead of time, usually the day before. Think carefully through your pre-race ritual, your swim/bike/run, post-race needs and anything else you’ll need to be ready! We’ve all probably seen the pre-race “gear picture” posted on social media with everything laying on the floor saying, “I’m ready!” DO that. And, then take a pic and post it.
- GET UP. Get to the race site as early as possible, so you’re not rushed. Know where you’re going and how to get there. Know when transition opens and when your start time is.
- USE LISTS. I have a gear-check list and also a list I use when setting up transition. The transition list reminds me of things like, having my bike in the correct gear for when I jump on bike right out of T1 and being sure my bike computer is cleared. Lots of other important stuff too. Make lists and use them.
- WARM UP. The biggest mistake I see triathletes make on race morning is not warming up. Chit-chatting with friends is perhaps the biggest distraction to proper warm-up. Don’t be rude, but pre-race is not a great time to have a 20 min convo with your tri BFF if you want to have your best race possible. Jog/stretch. Then, jog/stretch. And then…jog/stretch. If you can, get in the water early to warm up, do so.
- STICK TO YOUR PLAN. So many things can happen during the race to throw you off your plan. Good things and bad things. Yes, you have to adapt sometimes and make some real-time adjustments based on wind, heat, mechanicals, etc. but if you’ve trained well and have a plan, stick to it. You might feel great and be tempted to go way too fast on the bike…faster than your plan. Then you melt down halfway through the run because, you didn’t stick to your plan. I’ve done that. Don’t do that.
- START EASY. Ease into the swim, bike and run. Now, what does “ease” mean? Depends. If it’s a sprint distance there’s not much time to, well, “ease.” Anything longer, ease into each discipline. Anyone who negative splits the swim, then the bike and (yes, it’s a miracle if/when this actually happens), the run, do so! You’ll have the best race possible if you do.
- RECOVER. There’s that important 30-minute window immediately following the race when you should take in a bit of healthy carbs and protein. So just do it. I know those huge oatmeal cookies are delicious as well as other post-race goodies, but you’ll be setting yourself up for a quicker and more complete recovery and prep for your next workout, if you eat/snack wisely right afterward. When home, get your legs up and use the foam roller or The Stick or recovery boots or even just a gentle massage on your legs so that they bounce back more quickly. Get a good night’s sleep also vs. staying up late to celebrate. (What a party-pooper I am – no cookies and get to bed! Good grief.)
- EXPRESS THANKS. Be sure to thank the volunteers, especially during this Covid-19 season. Thank the race director and any family/friends who came to watch you. There are about 100 other things they could all be doing so be grateful and let them hear it.
OK, there’s just a few reminders since most of us haven’t raced in a year. Have fun, be smart and stay safe!