Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Use these five simple strategies to make your race-week experience less nerve-wracking.
There’s only a few days to go until your first race of the season and the finger you’re currently using to control your computer mouse might as well be on a panic button right now.
The questions you thought were answered weeks ago are inevitably beginning to arise again at the worst possible time. Did I train hard enough? Should I have done one more brick workout? What will I drink on race day? Should I put speed laces on my running shoes? And so forth. No matter how many laps you’ve swam or how many times you’ve rehearsed the race in your head, uncertainties always seem to find a way to arise during race week.
It’s all part of the game, as they say. Nerves are normal, especially as race day gets closer and the doubts start slipping through the cracks. The key to surviving race week, and the race itself, however, is as simple as trusting your training. No one workout during race week is going to make you any more fit. If anything, overdoing it is more of a concern than underdoing it during race week. Now is the time to rest your body, and your mind. The real work is done.
And while you think ahead to race day, think back on the weeks of preparation that got you to this point. Also, think about the progression you’ve made as a triathlete during this period. In the two, four, six or more months since you first decided try a triathlon, you’ve covered hundreds of miles, dialed in on your projected pace with laser-like precision, mastered your nutrition and have broken in your race day outfit so well that it feels like a second skin. There’s literally nothing left to do at this point except run the race.
Of course, you still need to get through race week, so use these five simple strategies to make sure you get to the starting line feeling relaxed, confident and ready to run your best on race day.
1. Relax. Nerves will get you nowhere. Rather than worrying the week away and questioning your training, try to take your mind off the race and keep your it occupied with a book, mindless movie or some other non-running related activity. Take a walk, meditate or whatever it is you need to do to offset any penned up pre-race energy anxiety.
2. Drink water. Chugging a gallon of water on race morning isn’t going to help matters much if you haven’t been drinking in the days prior to the event. Keep a water bottle within arms reach at all times in the days before the race and sip from it several times an hour. It can take several days or even up to a week or more to hydrate properly. Make sure to fill your tank well ahead of time.
3. Wake up early. If you’re not an early bird already, learn to be before experiencing a rude awakening on race morning. Since you’ll likely be starting around 7 a.m. and positioned in your corral much earlier than that, you’ll want to know what it’s like to be out of bed well before the break of dawn. The last thing you want to do on race day is be rushing around with only seconds to spare, so give yourself plenty of time to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and get to the start line.
4. Make a list, check it twice. You wouldn’t leave home without your favorite credit card, you shouldn’t leave home without your wetsuit, rear wheel, water bottles, running shoes, gels and hydration belt. Make a list of race-day essentials and keep these items on or close to you at all times. If traveling from out of town, pack the important stuff in your carry-on luggage. You’ll be fine if you lose your favorite slippers or misplace your shaving kit, but you’re nothing without your racing kit.
5. Enjoy the expo, but not too much. The expo will be quite the experience. There’s so much to see, lots of food to sample and scores of interesting people to meet, but spending too much time on your feet the day before your biggest race of the year isn’t the soundest strategy for success. If possible, get into town early, enjoy the expo experience for all that it has to offer and then get out of dodge. Grab your race packet, scope out the scene for a bit and then get off your feet and relax for the rest of the day.
And in the end, remember that surviving race week comes down to trusting your training. The race itself is just a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in since you decided to sign up for this event many months ago. Don’t let those deceiving doubts take away from the enjoyment of the experience. Develop a pre-race plan, execute it to the best of your ability and have the confidence that you’re ready to swim, bike, run and rock on race day!