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Race Week Prep- My Best Advice

Race week is an exciting time for many athletes who have trained for months to get ready for their “A” race or special event. I am going to give you my best race week prep advice for making this week as stress-free as possible so you can stay in the moment and enjoy yourself before your big day.


Try on your wetsuit and swim in it several times before race week. Make sure that you know how to get in and out of it quickly, how to unzip, etc. Practice running with your wetsuit at your waist while you take off your goggles and cap. Practice stepping out of your wetsuit in T1 and know where you will place it in transition. Swims this week are shorter in duration with some basic open water swim drills to keep you race ready.


Be sure your bike goes into the shop for a complete race ready tune up. Tell the mechanic you are racing and be sure to have on your race wheelset, seat, and any other components you want on your bike for race day. Be sure computers are working and syncing properly to your Garmin. Your blow out kit should have at least 2 extra tubes for Iron distance events and 1 for Sprint/Olympic. Make sure all equipment and accessories are in good working order. You don’t want any surprises on race day. Rides this week are no more than an hour or so with a few easy spins to keep the legs fresh and ready.


You definitely don’t want to wear brand new shoes on race day. If you do have new shoes they should be broken in on several of your longest runs, otherwise you run the risk of blistering. Make sure your orthotic or other inserts are inside your shoes, all of your run gear such as hat and sunglasses are good to go. By now you’ve done your last long run, so runs this week are short in duration with a few strides or pick-ups the day or 2 before the race.


You certainly do not want to eat or drink anything out of the ordinary this week. Stick to regular foods that you regularly eat, and about 2-3 days before race day stop most fibrous foods such as salads, apples, and other fruits. Keep it simple- peanut butter and jelly, pasta, breads, applesauce. It is never a good idea to try that new Thai restaurant that just opened in your neighborhood. Save it for next week. Your hydration this week needs to be like clockwork. Your pee should be almost clear for most of this week. Download my Race Day Nutrition Guide for more on exactly what to eat race morning!


Eight or 9 hours each night this week is great. The most important nights for sleep are the 2 nights before the eve of the race. Take your melatonin, drink some herbal tea before bed, turn off all electronics one to two hours before bed time. Turn on the air conditioning and make it nice and cool (68-70 degrees). Soothing music or an app such as Calm is a good idea if that is what you are used to. If you have a time change approaching, try to get to your race destination several days earlier so your body can acclimate.


If you are shipping your bike to the race, be sure to have the logistics planned in advance. Confirm one more time before you leave for the race that your bike has either arrived there or is on its way. Plan your suitcase the weekend before you leave for the race- make a checklist of every single item you will need to bring with you for race day. Usually there is a Race Day checklist in the Athlete Guide of your race. Start packing so you are not rushed at the last minute. Be sure to hydrate well while traveling especially via air travel. Planes are notorious for dehydration. Avoid alcohol until the day after the race.

Psychological Strategy:

Have your list of affirmations or mantras in your phone so you can listen while traveling. Take some time to meditate and visualize yourself completing the race with success. Think only about the things you can control without obsessing on the things you can’t. Things you can control: your nutrition, your warm up, your effort. Things you can’t control: the weather, the choppy river, the wind. Remember, everyone is racing in the same circumstances as you. No “what if” thinking!

Remember, planning ahead saves time and helps avoid last minute surprises. Use a checklist and a calendar to help you plan. I hope these tips help you to stay calm and stress free during race week so you can enjoy this special time before your event.

Ever thought about hiring a coach for your next Iron distance race? Message me HERE for a free 15 minute call and we can discuss your goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

ACSM Personal Trainer


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