Race prep tips - get yourself race ready

When you think about the top age group, elite and professional athletes, they all have one thing in common. 

They are all fast!

But push good genetics, consistent training, experience and phenomenal dedication to the side and great race day performances stem from excellent preparation.

Successful performances are not limited to the professionals. Any athlete can be great. It's time to discover your inner excellence!

It's important that you make sure you are using every training session to get yourself race ready. For the average age-grouper, life is so busy that you may find yourself rushing through training to just get it done or skipping valuable steps in your development.
If you have recently found yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed for your upcoming race, it's time to believe in yourself that you will know how to use that fitness on race day. 

Most athletes spend at least 4 months training for a key race. That's a minimum of 16 weeks or around 120 days to prepare your body and mind for race day.
If you train 6 days a week, that's approximately 96 days to build fitness, perfect your skills, test your fueling strategy and practice pacing. 

Here are a few tips on how you can feel more race ready in the 8 weeks leading up to your big race. 

-6-8 weeks out: Every training session creates training stress to get you faster, stronger and more resilient. You should see every workout as a valuable opportunity to learn, experiment, observe, reflect and test yourself when it comes to pacing, fueling and mental strength. Every workout should make you feel more prepared for race day. Avoid just going through the motions. Make sure you are gaining something from every workout. 

-5 weeks out: Consider the planned fatigued that is building to help you physically prepare for your upcoming event during this time. Not every workout will feel 100% but you can certainly give your best effort for each workout, depending on the day. You should be extra focused on consistency with your before and during training nutrition as well as with your lifestyle habits like sleep and stress management so that your body stays in excellent health.

-4 weeks out: Around this time, you should find yourself with more race-specific workouts. The purpose of these longer workouts (or a training race) is to give you confidence that you can put it all together on race day. Great performances come from athletes who know how to be proactive and solve problems quickly on race day. If you find yourself with an oh-no moment in training, learn from it to be better prepared on race day. 

-3 weeks out: This is the time when your mind and body play games on you...a lot! You are getting closer to taper and begin to experience a lot of mental dialogue which can affect how you train. You may experience self-doubt and the itch to test yourself with fear-based workouts or you may feel a sense of burnout and question "is this all worth it?" Remember how far you have come and with every conversation you have in your head, convince yourself that you are ready and it will be worth it.

-2 weeks out: Speaking of mental strength, this is an excellent time to go through "oh no" situations for race day. How will you handle a flat tire, cramp or tummy ache on race day? It may be valuable to consult a professional when it comes to situations like GI distress, pacing concerns or weather worries to help you feel more prepared, especially if you have been experiencing issues in training that worry you for race day. Visualize yourself on race day and embrace all worries, pains of the race or fears that you have because everything you are feeling is normal and anticipated. If you trained smart over the past few months, trust yourself that you are more than ready for your upcoming race. This is a great time to start your packing list and to keep your race day plan for nutrition as simple as possible. Do a few workouts in your race gear/equipment to make sure you are comfortable performing race intensity in your race gear/equipment.

1 week out/Race week: Do you like to be in control? Every athlete has his/her own definition of control but for some an itinerary and a written plan is extremely helpful. With so many thoughts in your head, write things out to walk yourself through your packing list, pacing strategy and fueling plan.  I believe that athletes need to surround themselves with positive energy on race week and avoid energy suckers. For some, this means staying off social media and for others, this means sharing the experience with others.

Not too long ago, I provided our team of Trimarni athletes a handout titled "Race week/day planning" with 10 specific questions that help my athletes think about, prepare and plan for their race.
Here are a few of the questions to help you out:
1. What gear are you planning to use/have with you during the race (you may include extra gear for warming-up, pre race and extra items as well). 


2. Are there any special items that you need to have with you before the race that won’t be 
used during the race (ex. medicine, clothing, nutrition, gear, nutrition chargers) that will 
make an impact on your race day performance/plan? 

3. What are your goals for each portion of the race – mental, nutrition and physical. 


4. What is your nutrition fueling/hydration strategy for during each portion of the race (amount, timing and type of nutrition)? 


5. What concerns you right now that may cause you anxiety/nerves on race day? Are there 
things within or out of your control that are on your mind (ex. course terrain, weather, 
the swim, nerves, timing goals, injuries, GI distress, first race, new location, travel, etc.)

6.  Based on your responses above – how will you address/overcome these challenges 
during the race?

Best of luck at your upcoming race!!!

"The will to succeed is important but what's more important is the will to prepare."