I wrote this article with all of my newbies in mind. However, no matter if you are doing your first tri or 100th tri, I think we can all use a little reminder of how to prepare for a race. Enjoy!
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Are you Ready?
By Marni Rakes, M.S., CISSN
One down, nine to go!
Over the next six months, the Aflac Iron Girl Women's Event Series will make its way all over the U.S. Perhaps you've already signed up for an event or maybe you even completed the Clearwater 10K/5K! Regardless of the event you choose, your preparation requires a balance of consistent training, good overall nutrition, adequate sleep and stress management.
After months of training, your Iron Girl race week will draw closer and you will feel the overflow of excitement and nervousness. Regardless of if this is your first or 20th event, it is likely that you will feel a little overwhelmed on the days leading in. Before you know it, you will be standing at the starting line surrounded by an enthusiastic group of women who all share one common goal, to get to the finish line and have fun!
Use the following guidelines to prepare for your upcoming Aflac Iron Girl event so you can fully enjoy your experience!
1) Check out the specific web site for the Aflac Iron Girl event for which you are registered. Read all event-related details at least four days prior to race day. Look at the starting times, course maps, pre-race nutrition guides, expo times and check-in details for your specific race.
2) Train in your racing gear at least two weeks before event day. Don't wait until race week to buy new shoes or a new outfit. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your gear!
3) Get a bike tune-up around three to four days before an Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon. Have a professional bike tech look for any necessary last minute changes to prevent technical difficulties during your race. The day before a race, warm-up on your bike and check your brakes so that they do not rub on your wheels. Check tires for deep slits or cracks to prevent a flat tire and practice changing your gears for efficient climbing, pacing and descending.
4) Don't try to lose weight during race week. Do not put all your hard training to waste by sabotaging your race day performance with a restricted diet. A daily diet of well-balanced meals and several snacks will ensure that food will be used as fuel come race day. If your race is 2-6 weeks away, stick to your good nutrition habits and decrease your caloric intake by 100-200 calories a day, and continue to exercise around 1-2 hours a day.
5) Practice your pre-race and race-day nutrition. Keep a journal of the foods consumed before your weekend workouts and what foods work well in the hours before a hard workout. Plan an easy-to-digest meal, around 100-250 calories (depending on the race distance), of complex carbohydrates, with a little protein and fat to stabilize the blood sugar.
6) Pack ahead. If you are traveling to a race venue, don't wait until the day before you leave to pack your bags. Make sure you plan for delays during your travel (especially if you check your bike) and be sure to refer to the Iron Girl checklist so you don't forget anything. If you are racing an Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon or Duathlon, don't forget to pack nutritional supplements you plan to use during the race.
7) Check the weather on the days leading up to the race. Be prepared for gusts of wind, extreme heat or a slight chance of showers. You can't control the weather but you can prepare for rain, wind or shine. Regardless if the weather forecast is ideal or dismal, understand that your body is trained and ready to race, and everyone will receive a finisher medal regardless of the weather conditions.
8) Encourage others to watch your race. Don't feel embarrassed if you are participating in your first race. The motivation and support of your friends and family will help you keep a smile on your face as you overcome obstacles and reach your event goals. Most of all, you never know who you will inspire during your Iron Girl experience.