Understandably, you may feel a little overwhelmed or nervous on Race Day. You've trained MONTHS for this day and if you are competitive like me, you have a lot on the line. Maybe you are trying to qualify for a National Championship or a World Championship. Or maybe you just REALLY want that podium finish or to do a personal best.
Let's face it, although race day is AWESOME it can also be a little stressful too. Your brain is going 100 miles and hour and it's easy to be overcome by the event and forget to do some important things! So I am going to spell it out for you so that these race day pitfalls don't happen to you!
1. Race Pitfall #1; Skipping swim practice or swim warm up. Whether this is simply the pre-race warm up for 15 minutes before the start or the open water practice the day before the race it is always important to do this! You definitely want to have a feel for the water either before or on race morning. Take some time to get acclimated to the swim conditions! It's a good idea to swim out to at least the first buoy and practice a turn or two. WEAR YOUR WETSUIT if you will be racing in it. If you are in a pool, GET WET and swim at least a 300 to warm up your back and shoulders. There is less of a shock factor too when you know what to expect as far as current, water temperature and swim conditions.
2. Race Pitfall #2: Not having your race numbers and tattoos on BEFORE you get to transition in the morning. I have had to do this many times, but if you can get to packet pickup BEFORE race morning then definitely do this! .I always put my stickers on my bike and helmet the night before and I get my race tattoos ready by the kitchen sink for the morning. Some people actually SLEEP in their tattoos! Doing all this ahead of time saves at least 10 min on race morning and reduces anxiety when you're pressed for time. If you absolutely have to put on your race numbers on race morning, be sure to bring a scissors and tape in your bag. I like to cut the excess off to avoid paper flapping in the wind on the bike. Also, I always carry a Sharpie in my bag just in case my tattoos don't stick and I need to write race numbers on my skin.
3. Race Pitfall #3: Not studying the entries and exits of the transition and not marking your transition area. I have seen people wandering around after they get out of the water looking for their stuff in a panic. No need for this if you place a colorful bandana or some sort of marker at your transition. If the race doesn't allow this you can always look for a landmark of some sort such as a tree or a bush. You can also count how many racks you run by before you get to your row. Again, do this ahead of time! It can save a lot of time and mean the difference between a podium finish or not.
4. Race Pitfall #4:Not practicing your nutrition and hydration BEFORE Race Day. You never want to try something new on race day, especially if you are a long course athlete. I made this mistake once on an 80 mile bike ride in the Texas Hill Country one summer. I kept on drinking what they were serving instead of brining my own packets. I ended up getting a serious cramp and those last 20 miles were pretty tough. KNOW your nutrition and how your body responds to it! Don't do anything different on race day than what you do normally! Trust me on this one!
5. Race Pitfall #5: Not putting your race belt on for the run! This will almost always give you a penalty. Most race rules dictate that you must have your race number on the front of your jersey or tri suit as you cross the finish line. I have had it upside down but that's usually ok. Forgetting it altogether though is going to cost you in most cases. I always bury it INSIDE my running shoes so it's almost impossible to forget. One race I did in Charleston SC I actually started running without it on and then had to turn around and go back to get it. That 30 seconds actually cost me a podium finish!
6. Race Pitfall #6: Drafting illegally. Unless it is a draft legal bike ride you definitely want to keep at least 3 bike lengths between you and the bike in front of you. I have seen it where the draft distance is 5 bike lengths. DO NOT let drafting disqualify you or cost you several minutes added to your overall time. If you feel the person in front of you is going too slow and you want to overtake them then signal and pass quickly! Do your best to not hang out behind someone else's wheel! Race officials will eventually see this and penalize you for it!
7. Race Pitfall #7: Not dismounting the bike at the specified line before re-entering transition! This can cost you up to a 2 minute penalty! Keep your eyes on that dismount line and only get off your bike then and there not after! The same goes for the mounting line- if you mount too soon you can receive a penalty for that too! Pay attention to the bike out and bike in rules. Also, while on the bike be sure not to let anything fall off your bike and do not throw gel wrappers or any trash on the course. Avoid penalties and follow these rules!
8. Race Pitfall #8: Not having enough left for the run. If you go crazy hard on the bike then chances are you may suffer more during the run portion of the triathlon. I always put lots of brick workouts into people's programs toward the end of their training in the peak weeks to allow for plenty of practice from bike to run. Asking your legs to run while they are already tired is a KEY component in your training! So when your coach puts lots of brick workouts in your plan, DO THEM!! They will pay off!
I hope these tips help you have a successful race!! Need a triathlon coach? Email me HERE!