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The Pros Share Their Go-To Pre-Race Workouts

Four pros share their go-to race week workouts, including how to prepare for the session, nail it, and recover well afterwards.


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With more and more races (finally) happening, knowing how to reach the start line feeling fast and fresh is more important than it’s been in a long time. We asked four top pro athletes to share their favorite go-to race week workouts, including how to prepare for the session, nail it, and recover well afterwards. On the other side of this page, you can find the workout prescription as a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to take with you to the pool, track, or into your pain cave. Remember, though—these people are pros so you’ll need to adapt some of their workouts based on your own fitness and needs. And don’t do them all in the same race week!

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
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Justin Metzler’s Swim Workout: Race-Day Build Simulation

Warm-up
400 easy swim 12×25 as [1 build, 1 fast, 1 easy] x 4 with 10 sec. rest.
100 easy as freestyle/backstroke

Main set
1500 continuous swim, as 500 smooth, 500 moderate, 500 hard, aiming to drop about 5 seconds per 100 on each 500 block

Cool-down
200-400 easy swim

Tips

Where to place it in your program

Six to seven days out from your race

How to prepare for it

Don’t forget your wetsuit! If your race is going to be non-wetsuit, then use your swim skin. This is a good opportunity to get used to the feel of your wetsuit again, especially if you haven’t worn it in a while.

How to nail the workout

Anticipate getting warm in your wetsuit if swimming in the pool, particularly on the back half of the 1500.

How to maximize recovery

Ensure you get in some good hydration with electrolytes, as you will likely be sweating more than your typical swim workout.

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Rach McBride’s Bike Workout: Medium-Long Interval Ride

Warm-up
20-30 min. smooth riding

Main set
2-3 x 8 min. @ 70.3 race pace/power, with 3-5 min. rest between each interval

Cool-down
10-15 min. easy spin

Tips

Where to place it in your program

Three to four days out from your race

How to prepare for it

Tailor this workout around the training you have done in the lead-up to the race. You may want to do shorter intervals or do this session a day or so earlier.

How to nail the workout

This workout is all about pacing and effort. Use power or RPE to make sure your effort remains consistent with no spikes at the start.

How to maximize recovery

Stay hydrated and keep well-fueled with enough calories and hydration throughout your ride.

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Lisa Roberts’ Run Workout: Threshold Intervals

Warm-up
15-20 min. easy jog with a few strides

Main set
12-30 x 800m (or 3-min. intervals if not on the track) @ threshold pace/effort with 200m (or 1 min.) easy jog between

Cool-down
15 min. easy jog

Tips

Where to place it in your program
Seven to 10 days out from your race

How to prepare for it
This session requires a lot of focus! The day prior to doing it, eat and sleep as you would for a race and do a similar “race prep” the morning of the workout.

How to nail the workout
Be sure to dial in your threshold pace from the very first interval. Do not start out faster and then fade as you go on.

How to maximize recovery
Good protein and carbohydrates to refuel and rehydrate; massage or foam rolling; easy swim later in the day to help your legs recover.

Photo: Brad Kaminski
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Ben Hoffman’s Bike-Run Workout: Effort Ride with Run Intervals

Ride
1 hr. 45 min. ride with
20-30 min easy warm-up, steady riding, and then final 45 min. @ 70.3 power/effort
Right into…

Run
12 miles as: 5 min. warm-up; 12 x 1K @ target 70.3 race pace with 90 seconds of steady state running between each effort

Cool-down
5 min. easy jog

Tips

Where to place it in your program

Ten days out from your race

How to prepare for it

Go into this one with a little fatigue, but not a super heavy load. This should simulate feeling a little bad and tired, in case you feel that way on race day.

How to nail the workout

Be sure to really fuel and hydrate on the bike. Give yourself five minutes at the beginning of the run to find your legs and stay relaxed—and do not go ballistic on the first couple of repeats.

How to maximize recovery

Fuel well immediately after, and do a foam rolling routine with stretching and time in compression boots (if you have them).