12 Race ready tips

You are probably hoping that I am going to write about how to plan your sport nutrition for race day or what percentage of your FTP you should hold while you are on the bike, how to swim fast in open water or the best way to run strong off the bike without your legs hurting.

While having a plan can ease mental worries for the athlete who tries to predict/control a race day outcome, it's important to recognize that being race ready is more than just checking off workouts and having a strict plan for race day.

Two years ago, at 2014 Ironman Wisconsin, something incredible happened.
Karel and I both qualified for the 2015 Ironman World Championship.
Although our goal was to both qualify, our results could not have been planned nor predicted.

Karel: 9:44, 3rd AG (35-39), 9th overall male amateur.
Marni: 10:44, 3rd AG (30-34), 6th overall male amateur.

To the minute and the exact same podium spot, we both excelled to the best of our best ability on race day.

The outcome of race day was not just a result of hard work in training and great luck on race day but it was also from a processed-drive mindset that kept us moving in the right direction, for 140.6 miles.
The plan was to Kona qualify - that's it.

It's been two years since this special race day and we can both agree that we have learned SO much more about endurance racing and what it takes to bring out the best in you on race day. 

Whether you are trying to qualify for Kona, hoping for a podium spot or a personal best or looking to have an all-around enjoyable race day experience, here are a few race ready tips, not involving metrics or nutrition, that have helped us excel in endurance triathlon races over the past few years.


1) Be realistic with your race day goals but don't sell yourself short. Although you are racing with your current level of fitness, you must believe in yourself, that your training has given you the mental and physical skills to race smart and to excel.

2) It's completely normal to have race week/day nerves - nerves mean that you care about your performance.  Whether you fear the upcoming distance, the unknowns of the race course or weather worry you or you feel pressure from yourself, friends or family, you should never let your fears, worries or nerves get the best of you. Visualize yourself succeeding before race day so that you can turn some of that nervous energy into excited energy.

 3) Keep your mindset positive before and during the race. It can be performance destructive to have conflicting thoughts before the race - like negative energy about your readiness, powerful doubts about your worthiness as an athlete, uncertainties about if you are cut out for this event and maybe even thoughts of "this isn't worth this pain" or "I just want to get this over with."
It's important that you care throughout the entire race - this means keeping your mind in a place where you always care about your performance and no matter what obstacles come your way, you stay focused and mentally strong to put forth the best race performance possible by your body.

4) When racing, remember that thoughts are temporary. Every negative thought will precede and follow a positive thought. We often call these highs and lows of racing and we all feel them. You just have to keep moving forward so that you can catch those positive thoughts  - and try to hang on to them for as long as possible. 

5) There are many controllables when it comes to racing and lots of uncontrollables. You can't control your competition, you can't control the weather and you can't change the course. But you can control your race by planning your sport nutrition, your clothing, your pacing plan and your attitude. Racing to your best is accepting that you can not control everything so you must remain processed driven.

6)  Do not sabotage your race day performance with your body by worrying about (or trying to control) your weight. There is no reason to restrict, control or stress about food in the days leading up to the race, unless it is to help you maximize performance (give you energy), keep you hydrated and reduce risk for GI issues on race day (low residue/fiber diet). 

7) Do not deviate from what has worked in training. Avoid seconding guessing yourself and don't worry about what other athletes are or are not doing.  It's your body and your race.
8) Embrace your  competition. Racing brings out the best in athletes and often, competition will push you to perform better than you thought was possible. But this means that you can't doubt yourself - if you find yourself saying "I'm so slow, everyone is so much faster, I don't belong here" you won't rise to your abilities. Always race your closest competition and let others bring out the best in you.

9) Help out your fellow athletes. If an athlete is having a great day or if an athlete is struggling, give him/her a cheer. There's great power for you and the other athletes in spreading energy through a cheer, high five or a smile.

10) Don't chase times, paces and rankings. You must stay present at all times - processed drive, not outcome focused.
11) Be more than just be physically prepared. Review the course in great detail, review the weather, read the athlete guide, attend the athlete briefing and do anything else possible before the race to feel mentally prepared. Nothing brings more confidence than feeling prepared.

12) Have fun! After your race, you go back to life. Let's be honest - racing is fun and for just one day, you get to do something for yourself and by yourself. In some crazy way, tell yourself that no matter how much it hurts on race day, you don't want it to end. Enjoy your special day and be grateful and thankful that you can do what you can do with your body. Be yourself in every way possible.