Master The Race
Map out a solid race day strategy to avoid mishaps and accomplish your goals.
You’ve worked hard on your long runs, hard training sessions and recovery efforts. Now it’s time to plan out the moments of your race day. Start charting your plan one week to three ahead of your race day, and be ready to make adjustments as needed.
Here’s Five tips to make your best race day plan:
- SET A REALISTIC TIME GOAL. Based on your training sessions and your overall ballpark race day goal, set a time goal that is achievable for where you are today. If you are racing a triathlon, chose a goal for each individual discipline as well as an overall finish time. If you have raced within the previous 12 weeks, use that race day time and plug it into any of the online race predictor calculators. If you are on target with your training, this will give you a starting point of what to expect on race day. Be sure to complete a long run with close to half your goal distance run at goal pace. The effort of this run should feel comfortably hard, very similar to race day effort. If it feels to hard to maintain or you are not able to maintain your pace, dial back your expected race day goal time.
2. NOTE COURSE SPECIFIC SPLIT TIMES. Once you have your time goal/s, break them down into smaller sections. For a running race, this can be by mile markers or distance. For a triathlon race, this can be by laps, or distance. Research the course profile, aid station locations, and the expected weather temperatures (does your race start out cool, then heat up dramatically by mid morning? This will effect your pacing strategy). For long running races, have cumulative time goals for key points such as a 5k, 10k, 10 miles, etc. For a triathlon, have cumulative time goals within each discipline and also as you start the next discipline. For example, “I will exit the water at 45 mins, be out of transition in 3 minutes, and have reached 5 miles on my bike by 8:30am. I will end the bike by 9:30am and start the run by 9:35am.” Be sure to adjust your time goals for large crowds, higher race day temperatures, less than ideal race day weather conditions, or unexpected course changes.
3. HAVE A TESTED FUELING, HYDRATION AND CLOTHING STRATEGY. The months leading up to race day is the time to dial in your fueling and clothing strategy. Never try anything new on race day, and stick to what has worked in your previous training sessions. During training do a few race specific sessions where you wake up at the same time as race day, eat the same breakfast, wear the same clothing, and start your training session at the same time of day as your race. If you plan on using the fuel/hydration provided out on the race course, be sure you know where the aid stations are and practice fueling at those same mile markers during your training sessions. Log exactly what you use and when you use it, including the amounts of each product.
4. FIND YOUR ROUTINE, AND STICK TO IT. Each race morning allows you to get into the mental game of racing. Find a morning routine that works for you, and stick with it. This includes what you will do at the race sight, and any warm up routine you plan on doing. Recon the parking areas, the race venue, shuttle buses, transition areas. Note if there is anywhere you can go to find a quiet moment to practice mental imagery or deep breathing. Make a schedule from the time you wake up until the time that the starting gun goes off. What will you be doing, where will you be, who will you be with. Plan on arriving at the race sight early enough so you won’t feel rushed, but not so early you are left waiting around for to long.
5. PLAN FOR MISHAPS. Have a back up plan, and solutions to any problems that may arise while on course. Write down what you will do if you forget your nutrition, get a flat tire out on the bike course, get behind on your calories, or even if it’s raining or overly hot. See a problem happening, then see yourself overcoming it with ease. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. are the big three key words for situations that you don’t always plan for.
By planning for success, you increase your odds of achieving your race day goals.
For a fully customizable race day preparation worksheet, email us at Info@TeamSoulSports.com. Include your name, email and your request for the worksheet.