While preparing for Nation’s Tri, and for all races for that matter, you want to train so as to avoid any surprises on race day. Following your plan gives you the best chance to be physically prepared but you want to make sure you are prepared mentally and logistically as well. You also want to make sure that everything you wear, eat and do is something you have worn, eaten and done before. Here are some tips for race day simulations that will ensure you are comfortable and well prepared during your race.
One of the main aspects you need to address before race day is what you are going to wear. Are you going to wear a one piece tri suit? Two piece? Which wetsuit are you going to wear? What are you going to wear under it? Are you going to wear socks on the bike? How about the run? Which socks are you going to wear? Choosing the right clothing is a process, one that you should experiment with during your training. A tri suit may feel good when you put it on, but make sure you try it out over the longer distances in training. Nothing can bring you down mentally faster than discomfort caused by an ill-fitting tri suit.
This is a big one. You want to make sure you know exactly how you are going to get your calories during the race. All races have sponsors and the aid stations will be full of power drinks and power bars. However, you don’t want to try something new on race day. It may not agree with your stomach and you’ll be in a world of hurt. So, you can either see what the race will have and train with that or choose what you want and make sure you have an ample supply with you. Experiment well before the race with what you are going to intake and how much. You will eventually settle with a plan. Once you do, stick to it because, then, your body will be able to perform at its best.
You also need to decide what you will eat the night before and the morning of your race. If you do your big workout on a Saturday morning, plan your Friday night meal. Do you feel good and energized in the morning? Do you have sustaining energy? What are you eating the morning of your long workout? Do you carbo load or do you need more protein? Take notes on what gets you ready and stick to it. And, when race day comes, follow your plan on Saturday night and Sunday morning before you toe the line in DC.
This is an easy one to do, but an oft overlooked aspect. Practice your transitions. If you are doing an open water swim, run out of the water when you’re done and practice stripping off your wetsuit. Set up your bike like you will in T1 and practice getting all of your gear on before you get on the bike. Where will you put your nutrition? When doing your bricks, set up your run gear, hop off the bike and practice your T2 skills. These skills are not hard to hone….you only need to do them a few times but you will thank yourself for the practice when you are flying out of transitions.
SWIM, BIKE AND RUN
Obviously, you need to train the three disciplines, but you also need to take into account what race day will feel like. Here’s one tip for each of the disciplines that you can practice in training that will carry over to smarter racing.
While swimming with friends, swim close together and give each other a few friendly bumps so that you will know what swimming in a group feels like. The swim can be a daunting task for anyone, but if you are accustomed to getting bumped a little, you’ll feel more comfortable about it on race day. Also, swim in the morning. Race day is going to start early so make sure you get in the water a couple of times early in the day to make sure you don’t fall asleep in the water!
You know drafting is illegal during triathlon so make sure you are doing solo rides or, at least, avoid drafting with a pack. Nation’s Tri is a big race and you will most likely be around a lot of people on the course, so make sure you don’t find yourself drafting. Practice this by leading the pace line on your group rides! And don’t forget that no drafting is only one of many rules on the bike.
Some people do their best running early in the morning. Unfortunately, in a race they are usually not out on the run until the hottest part of the day. How will your body react to running in the middle-of-the-day heat? Well, you need to find out. Mix up when you do your run so you are not surprised if the sun is high in the sky when you’re out there in our Nation’s Capital.
TRI IT OUT
Why not try a homemade triathlon to put it all together?!? Pick a day, like a Saturday, and plan to do a short triathlon on your own to try everything out. Eat exactly what you are going to on race day and wear what you’re going to wear. It doesn’t have to be long…..500 meter swim x 15 mile bike x 3 mile run, or something like that. Set up your transitions and fuel with your chosen drinks and/or bars. See how everything feels and how your body reacts to the whole experience.
Nation’s Triathlon is going to be one of the highlights of your athletic career and you want to make sure you are well prepared. By simulating every aspect of the race you will go into the race with the utmost confidence. Happy training and I will see you at the finish line on September 7!