It goes without saying that the best way of preparing for triathlon race day is training, whether you’re a first timer following an eight-week plan or a dedicated triathlete who does a session every day. Aside from that though, your most important triathlon prep takes place in the week leading up to the race.
From having all your equipment race-ready and checking out the course, to fuelling right and getting enough sleep, here are some of my best tips for preparing for triathlon race day.
Training In The Week Leading Up To The Race
Stick To Your Routine
While some triathletes like to rest in the week leading up to a race, I prefer to keep training every day as I normally would, just at a lower intensity. I believe that sticking to your rhythm and doing what your body is used to is the best way to go about it.
Decrease Your Training Intensity
If I’m racing on Sunday, my last big session will be Thursday. The first four days of that week, I’ll do my normal sessions (i.e. interval runs on Monday and Wednesday, with swimming sessions on Tuesday and Thursday), then I’ll go easy on Friday and Saturday.
I usually swim 3km on a Friday. As I prepare for a triathlon race day though, I’ll only do 1.5km. On the Saturday before the race, I’ll also cut my run in half, or run at a much more modest pace. Either way; I like to stay active.
Recover After Your Sessions
Importantly though, I’m always extra careful to recover from a training session right. Hydration, protein, stretching and a healthy 8-hour sleep are all essential.
Fuelling And Preparing For Triathlon Race Day
What To Eat
There are lots of race day recipes out there. Personally though, when I’m preparing for triathlon race day, I like to eat a meal that my body is used to, that will give me the slow release energy I need, and, importantly, that I genuinely enjoy.
My go-to? Fresh wholemeal tagliatelle with roasted Mediterranean vegetables (think courgette, aubergine, pepper, mushroom, onion and tomato) and a green pesto sauce. A perfect balance between vegetable protein and slow release carb, it’s easy to digest and tastes great!
Don’t Over Fuel
You might be surprised to hear that a lot of triathletes actually over fuel before a race. Unless you’re doing a 70.3 or above, you probably don’t need to start fuelling until the night before the race. Just make sure that you eat a balanced diet and avoid overly greasy food in the days leading up to the event (if you think to yourself ‘should I really be eating this considering I’m racing soon?’, chances are you should pass on it!).
Always Pack The Night Before
The last thing you want to be doing on race day is running around looking for a crucial piece of equipment. My advice? Pack your bag the night before and have a list of any last-minute items you can only pack in the morning. This checklist is a good starting point:
- Tri suit and warm up clothes for before and after the race.
- Race belt or pins, glasses (clear and sun) and race licence.
- Wet suit, goggles, spare swimming cap and body glide.
- Bike, helmet and bike shoes.
- Running shoes and baby powder.
- Water, energy drink, gels, jellies, … any other last-minute fuel.
If it’s sunny, you might also consider taking a cap.
Relax And Get A Good Night Sleep
It seems obvious but getting a good night’s sleep is crucial when preparing for triathlon race day. Try and relax for at least an hour before bed, and don’t think about the race too much (I know, easier said than done).
What To Do On Race Day
Fuelling In The Morning
This part really depends on what time you’re racing. If it’s an early start, a bowl of porridge or Weetabix with some honey about 1-2 hours before the race is a great source of both fast and slow release energy. I also add a banana and blueberries for good measure.
When I don’t race until midday, I’ll have my Weetabix 4-4:30 hours before the race, then two pieces of white toast with peanut butter 3 hours before.
I swear by peanut butter. It’s filling and a fantastic source of energy.
Collecting Your Number And Recceing The Course
In most local races, you just pick up your race number and timing chip on the day. You should then check out the course map (you might be able to do this online in the days leading up to the race) and always attend the race briefing. The organisers will explain the course in full.
Warming Up And Getting In The Zone
I have to confess that I don’t really do much in terms of warming up for a triathlon. I’ll put on my wetsuit, do a bit of active stretching and get my shoulders and arms going. If possible, I like to go in the water and get used to the temperature. I’ll do a few front crawl sprints, then just focus on the race ahead.
And there you have it, my top tips for preparing for triathlon race day! If you’re still in your training phase, these swimming session ideas may be useful too.